This guy found a way to run Apple's Mac software on an iPad - and it works surprisingly well

ipad pro mac mini setupYouTube/Jonathan MorrisonYouTube/Jonathan Morrison

  • YouTuber Jonathan Morrison has pulled off something iPad and Mac fans have been dying to see: A full version of MacOS, Apple's operating system for Mac computers, running on an iPad.
  • For this setup, Morrison used the 2018 Mac Mini as a way to put MacOS on a 2018 iPad Pro.
  • You have to see it to believe it.

For years, one of the biggest desires among iPad owners is that they wish it could run Mac software. The iPad is an excellent device for consuming media, like watching movies or reading books, but a handful of limitations keep it from being a real work computer - the main one being that it runs iOS, instead of a more robust desktop operating system like Apple's MacOS.

Apple insists iPads and Mac computers will always be separate devices, and that we will never see desktop software on an iPad. Apple's Craig Federighi, who leads software efforts for both Mac and iOS devices, told Wired earlier this year that he's "not into touchscreens on PCs," and doubts he will change his mind.

But thankfully, there's a way to experience MacOS on an iPad, even without Apple's official blessing. YouTuber Jonathan Morrison says he saw this unique setup "hit the internet this week," and after trying it himself, filmed how well it works for everyone to see.

Here's how Morrison made MacOS run on an iPad Pro, and how you can do it, too:

{{}}

View As: One Page Slides

YouTuber Jonathan Morrison rigged up a 2018 iPad Pro to a 2018 Mac Mini to make this work.

YouTuber Jonathan Morrison rigged up a 2018 iPad Pro to a 2018 Mac Mini to make this work.

All of MacOS — from the Finder, to apps like Safari and Final Cut Pro — still works on the iPad Pro with this setup. And iPad-specific functions still work, too, including the touchscreen and the Apple Pencil.

All of MacOS — from the Finder, to apps like Safari and Final Cut Pro — still works on the iPad Pro with this setup. And iPad-specific functions still work, too, including the touchscreen and the Apple Pencil.

It seems like magic, actually seeing a functioning version of MacOS running on an iPad.

It seems like magic, actually seeing a functioning version of MacOS running on an iPad.

It's all made possible by the Luna Display, a tiny compact adapter that turns your iPad into a secondary display. It was designed for MacBook Pros or iMacs, but it works with the 2018 Mac Mini, too.

It's all made possible by the Luna Display, a tiny compact adapter that turns your iPad into a secondary display. It was designed for MacBook Pros or iMacs, but it works with the 2018 Mac Mini, too.

The Luna Display costs $80 and has two variants: one that works with USB-C, and one that works with DisplayPort. It's important to buy the right version. You need to use your computer's native port, as this will not work with a dongle or adapter. Also, this will only work on Macs, not PCs.

The Luna Display costs $80 and has two variants: one that works with USB-C, and one that works with DisplayPort. It's important to buy the right version. You need to use your computer's native port, as this will not work with a dongle or adapter. Also, this will only work on Macs, not PCs.

You can buy the Luna Display right here.

Here's what's nice about this setup: If iOS on the iPad Pro isn't cutting it for you, you can rig up your iPad Pro to your Mac Mini to use as your main external display, or use it as your left and right screen to a main external display if you're using that.

Here's what's nice about this setup: If iOS on the iPad Pro isn't cutting it for you, you can rig up your iPad Pro to your Mac Mini to use as your main external display, or use it as your left and right screen to a main external display if you're using that.

This also means you can finally use your iPad with a traditional keyboard, trackpad, or mouse.

This also means you can finally use your iPad with a traditional keyboard, trackpad, or mouse.

You can even use Apple's own Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro, which gets its charge from the iPad itself and connects to the tablet magnetically. It's incredible how both iPad and Mac functions all still work with this setup.

You can even use Apple's own Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro, which gets its charge from the iPad itself and connects to the tablet magnetically. It's incredible how both iPad and Mac functions all still work with this setup.

What's most surprising is the lack of noticeable lag. "It's almost instantaneous," Morrison says.

What's most surprising is the lack of noticeable lag. "It's almost instantaneous," Morrison says.

Still, Morrison warns against buying an iPad Pro just to use it as a monitor for your Mac Mini. "If you happen to have both, then it makes sense because the adapter itself is relatively inexpensive."

Still, Morrison warns against buying an iPad Pro just to use it as a monitor for your Mac Mini. "If you happen to have both, then it makes sense because the adapter itself is relatively inexpensive."

The main limitation of this setup is going to be your home's WiFi connection. If you don't have speedy internet, you may experience a poor and laggy connection between your Mac Mini and your iPad Pro, which sounds like a bad time. Both the Mac Mini and iPad Pro must be connected to the same network for this to work.

The main limitation of this setup is going to be your home's WiFi connection. If you don't have speedy internet, you may experience a poor and laggy connection between your Mac Mini and your iPad Pro, which sounds like a bad time. Both the Mac Mini and iPad Pro must be connected to the same network for this to work.

There are a few other drawbacks. Audio doesn't come through the iPad Pro; it will still come through the Mac Mini. So you'll probably want to connect your Mac Mini to external speakers, or headphones, or maybe even your HomePod. Morrison says the HomePod works surprisingly well here.

There are a few other drawbacks. Audio doesn't come through the iPad Pro; it will still come through the Mac Mini. So you'll probably want to connect your Mac Mini to external speakers, or headphones, or maybe even your HomePod. Morrison says the HomePod works surprisingly well here.

The other issue is that you need an external display to connect these two computers in the first place, because you'll need a monitor to set everything up.

The other issue is that you need an external display to connect these two computers in the first place, because you'll need a monitor to set everything up.

In order for this to work, you'll also need to use your iPad Pro without a password, or you have to be good at typing your password without seeing what you're doing, because you won't have an opportunity to see what you're typing until your iPad is actually on. (This is because the iPad is acting as a display in this setup, not as your main computer.)

In order for this to work, you'll also need to use your iPad Pro without a password, or you have to be good at typing your password without seeing what you're doing, because you won't have an opportunity to see what you're typing until your iPad is actually on. (This is because the iPad is acting as a display in this setup, not as your main computer.)

Still, Morrison said this setup "works way better than I could have imagined." To prove his point, he shows Final Cut Pro, Apple's high-end video software for Macs, running smoothly on his iPad Pro.

Still, Morrison said this setup "works way better than I could have imagined." To prove his point, he shows Final Cut Pro, Apple's high-end video software for Macs, running smoothly on his iPad Pro.

While this setup has some obvious limitations, it gives you an idea of how well Mac software might work on an iPad, since this particular iPad Pro was running Mac software like Safari and Final Cut Pro using a traditional mouse and keyboard, but the touchscreen (and Apple Pencil) could still work, too. It's incredible to see it all actually perform the way you'd want it to, with no apparent lag, even though this type of iPad ability isn't officially sanctioned by Apple.

I've owned an iPad since the third-generation model, which was the first with a Retina display. I upgraded to the iPad Air when that was available, and I tried upgrading to the most recent iPad Pro, but I sadly returned it less than 24 hours later because I felt it wasn't a good work computer for me. I love the iPad, and would love to see it succeed as a work computer — this setup gives me hope. With any luck, Apple will encourage more of these types of creative uses for the iPad in the future.

Check out Morrison's full video to see this setup in action.

Add Comment()
Comments ()
X
Sort By:
Be the first one to comment.
We have sent you a verification email. This comment will be published once verification is done.