The Free Deskreen App Turns Your Old Tablet Into a Wireless Monitor

An iPad acting as a second screen for an older MacBook
Pavlo Buidenkov

How many monitors do you even need? One deciding factor can be the cost of another monitor. But what if you could use nearly any tablet or smartphone you already own? If you have $8 to spare for a dongle, the free Deskreek app promises to turn your old device into a second (or third) monitor for Windows, macOS, or Linux devices.

Second screen apps aren’t a new thing, but they often come with strict requirements and lots of latency. Apple’s Sidecar will turn your new iPad into a second monitor for your new Mac device. But if your iPad or Mac is too old, or you have a Windows PC, it won’t work.

That’s the problem Deskreen promises to solve. It’s a free piece of software you install on your Windows, Linux, or macOS device. Your primary device does all the heavy lifting and uses a remote sharing technique to let your table to phone act as a second monitor.

Just scan a QR code with your second device, and it’ll use its browser to present a “second screen” view. Deskcreen bypasses VNC in favor of WebRTC to cut down on latency. You probably won’t get gaming speeds here, but if you have a decent Wi-Fi connection, it should be fast enough to stick a Spotify or Slack window onto your tablet.

Deskreen comes with quite a few features too, you can limit the second monitor to a single app, share your screen (like a remote connection program), and it’ll even support multiple additional screens. Do you have two tablets gathering dust? Use them both! You even get end-to-end encryption between your devices.

The main catch is that you’ll need a Dummy Plug (like this HDMI Dummy Plug) if you want to use the second (or third) screen feature. Without it, your PC or Mac won’t realize you have a “second monitor.” The Dummy Plug tricks the OS into seeing the Deskreen software as physical hardware.

But you can get Dummy Plugs for less than $10, so it’s still a lot cheaper than buying a traditional Portable Monitor. You can download Deskreen for free on Windows, macOS, or Linux from the app’s site. It’s an open source program, so you can check out all the code at github to ease any security concerns.

An inexpensive Dummy Plug

HDMI Dummy Plug,Headless Ghost, Display Emulator ?Fit Headless-1920×1080 New Generation@60Hz?

This Dummy Plug connects to a spare HDMI port on your Windows or Mac device, and tricks your OS into recognizing the Deskreen software as physical hardware.

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