Turn your iPad and Apple Pencil into your Mac's mouse with this new app

AstroPad Slate
(Image credit: AstroPad)

If you have an old iPad and perhaps a spare Apple Pencil that you never use, why not turn them into something a little more useful? AstroPad Slate can do just that, and the app is now available in open beta.

AstroPad Slate is the new app from the people behind the AstroPad Studio solution that turns your iPad into an external screen and graphics tablet. AstroPad Slate is slightly different in that it turns your iPad into a no-screen pen tablet that can then be used to draw, write, or just manipulate on-screen assets as if you were using a mouse.

In use, your iPad will display a black screen and a settings panel for you to work with. You can also bring up a box for writing on as well, with your Mac turning that into on-screen text as if it was typed with your keyboard.

Time to dig out that Apple Pencil

All you need to get started is the public beta (which you can get from the AstroPad website) and a spare iPad and Apple Pencil. The iPad has to be running iPadOS 15 or later while macOS 11 or later is required on the Mac side. Then it's a case of launching the companion app on the Mac and choosing how you're going to connect it to your iPad.

There are three options here. You can use a cable, connect over Wi-Fi, or use AstroPad's peer-to-peer solution. Just choose the one that best suits your needs and away you go.

You can use any Apple Pencil or compatible iPad, although those with Apple's best iPad, the iPad Pro models that support the hover feature will benefit the most. If that's you, just moving your Apple Pencil over the surface of the iPad will make your Mac's mouse cursor move. Have an older one? You'll need to physically touch the iPad, but the result is still the same.

As mentioned, all of this is now available in open beta and the AstroPad folks want your feedback to help make Slate better — make sure to let them know what works and what could use a little helping hand when you take the app for a spin for yourself.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.