Displaying iPad Screen Using a Classroom Projector

If you’re using iPads in your classroom, at some point you’ll want to be able to display your iPad screen to the entire classroom. Fortunately, a couple methods exist that allow teachers to do just that.

Display iPad screen through your classroom projector.

Method One

The most common method (although not the one I recommend for Mac users) is to mirror your iPad’s display using an Apple TV device that is connected to your classroom projector via a HDMI cable. Mirroring (showing what is on your iPad display) is done using an iPad feature called AirPlay introduced with the iPad 2. Unfortunately, you cannot mirror your iPad display using the original iPad. You need an iPad 2 or the new iPad and you need to be running the latest operating system for the iPad.

AirPlay is a fantastic feature of the iPad (and iPhone) that lets you stream your iPad data to an Apple TV and then have the output go from the Apple TV to an HDMI compatible device like your TV set. The original AirPlay only allowed you to stream video and audio; however, with the introduction of iOS 5, it now allows users to stream their iPad display to their Apple TV allowing them to see their iPad display on their TV set.

To utilize this method of projecting your iPad display, you’ll need to purchase an Apple TV device and an HDMI cable. The HDMI cable needs to be long enough to go from the Apple TV to the projector. The good news is that you can place your Apple TV device near your projector so the cable doesn’t need to be long. Your projector must also accept HDMI input. If you have an older model projector that does not support HDMI, you will need to purchase an additional piece of hardware to convert your HDMI signal to something that is compatible with your projector. An Apple TV device retails for $99 and a HDMI cable costs approximately $20. If you need to convert your HDMI signal, you can purchase a HDMI to VGA cable for under $10 but you won’t be able to hear the iPad audio. The only other requirement for this configuration is having a wireless network to send the signal from your iPad to your Apple TV.

Method One – Apple TV

Method Two

The second method is actually a lot easier to implement, provides you with more options for how your iPad’s display is projected, and it’s also a lot less expensive. This method uses a software program called Reflection that is now available for the PC as well as a Mac. Reflection is a relatively new software program that simulates an Apple TV device. When Reflection is running on your computer, your iPad’s AirPlay will detect your computer and give you the option of mirroring your iPad’s display on your computer screen.  Since you can see your iPad’s display on your computer, all you need to do is connect your computer to a projector and voila, your iPad’s display is projected to the entire classroom.

To utilize this method on a Mac, you will need to purchase the Reflection software program for the Mac and you’ll also need a Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter so you can connect your Mac to your projector. The Mini DisplayPort is a standard port on the Mac. One end of the adapter fits into your Mac’s Mini DisplayPort and the other end connects to a standard VGA cable that is then plugged into your projector. The Reflection software is currently priced at $14.99 and the Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter retails for $29. To save money, you can purchase a 3rd party adapter online for under $10. Once again, the only other requirement is that you have a wireless network so your iPad can talk to your Mac. This is the same requirement for Method One using the Apple TV.

Method Two – Mac running Reflection app


The Reflection app allows you to adjust the appearance of your iPad’s display on your Mac’s computer screen. For example, you can change the position, size, and orientation of your iPad display. You can also set the display to full screen and you can even change the display so it shows an iPad frame around the display making it appear that you’re looking at an actual iPad. This would be helpful for younger students to make the connection between the iPad and the projected image.

Summary of Requirements

Summary of requirements for displaying iPad screen through your classroom projector.


If you want to project your iPad’s display and you do not have a wireless network in your classroom, please see Melissa’s comment in the comment section. Thanks for “sharing” Melissa!


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38 Responses to Displaying iPad Screen Using a Classroom Projector

  1. Mike Elliott April 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Of course when mountain lion comes out there’ll be a third option of buying the reflection app on your mac and then using air play on the mac (new feature) to display through apple TV to a television!

    If thy makes sense?! :)

    Great and helpful post

    • James Hollis April 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      Great news about AirPlay and Mountain Lion although I’m not sure I understand why this would be advantageous for mirroring iPad unless one wanted to utilize the display options in Reflection. I’m also assuming that other “Reflection-type” apps will become available. Maybe someone will even create one for the PC.



  2. Melissa April 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    I have an iPad 2 and I do this with an VGA cable connected to a HDMI cable. Super easy. I don’t have WiFi at my school nor am I able to use a Mac computer. You should really have three methods.

    • James Hollis April 21, 2012 at 7:32 am #

      Hi Melissa,

      Thank you so much for sharing your insights. Yes, you can send the iPad’s output to a VGA device without an Apple TV or a Mac running Reflection. All you need is the VGA adapter cable for the iPad/iPhone. While mirroring does not work on the original iPad (same for the two methods in this article) it works great with an iPad 2 and the new iPad!

      I understand that this could easily be a Method Three. My rational for not including this configuration in the article is that the iPad has to be tethered which means it must be connected (tethered) to the VGA adapter and VGA cable while mirroring the display via the projector. In terms of price, the cost of Method Two is the same (or less) than the tethered method (let’s call it Method Three) and Method One is only $90 more.

      While the tethering requirement severely limits what you can do, I admit that it is very important to mention Method Three for those classrooms that do not have a wireless network. I guess I was assuming that if schools were moving to a one-to-one iPad environment, they would never provide an environment where students could not access a wireless Internet network. I would never recommend having an iPad in the hands of every student without access to the Internet. That’s like having a car with an empty gas tank. :)

      For readers who are interested in Method Three, the requirements are:
      - iPad 2 or new iPad
      - Apple VGA Adapter (Retail $29)
      - VGA cable
      - Projector w/ VGA input

      Melissa, thank you so much for your valuable input! “Sharing” information and experiences with others is one of the best ways of utilizing technology more effectively.



      • Donna September 28, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

        Ok I have a calypso system in my classroom. It has an input for av. I have an apple av cable. But I have been unable to project video. Only the audio is coming through. Is there a function on the ipad2 that needs to be told?

      • April October 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

        Reflection App works well and allows you to display your ipad on computer screen (then relayed to projector) for $14.99. There is a 10 minute free trial to try out but I think it works well!

    • david September 11, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

      Hi Melissa
      Will this mirror the screen? or just play videos and view images with the right app.
      thanks for your urgent help.

    • Mandy December 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

      Can you give me the exact way you set this up? I understand it this way:
      iPad -> VGA adapter -> HDMI cable -> Projector? or PC? or either?

  3. HJ May 15, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    Thank you for sharing how to use in an environment where a Mac is not an option.

  4. Deb June 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    So happy to find this!

    But Reflection or AirServer?
    In reading/trying to think it through, I think they’ll do the same thing.

    Just wondering if anyone has experience with either/both, and what they think.

    Many thanks!

    • James Hollis June 25, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      Hi Deb,

      It’s definitely a touch choice. I tried to use the free trial for AirServer and didn’t get it to work so I don’t have any opinions to offer. Lots of people love it. I’ve been very happy with Reflection for the Mac. I like having the option of presenting the display as an actual iPad. I think this helps younger kids make a better connection to their apps. Doing a screen recording of the app being used is also a snap using QuickTime for the Mac.

      Have fun exploring!


  5. Mr. Biornstad July 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    The problem I’ve had with Airplay and Apple TV is when it is not in constant use, (I guess one of the components is in sleep to save power) it comes back on to a default store screen showing the latest movie offerings from Apple TV. This is a distraction for the students. Anybody know how to change the default screen for Apple TV when mirroring from iPad after sleep?

  6. metaljar July 31, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    Reflection app now available for PC as well. Came out about end of May 2012

    I use it all the time. In Australia, $15 single user, $50 for 5 user license, $8 per user >20
    Works a treat. Just need to have both devices on the same wireless network.

    I do a lot of presenting at schools where I am not a member of staff. I use my iPhone as a personal wireless hotspot and connect my iPad and PC (ie data projector) to that wireless. Since they are both on the same wireless network… happy days. No real discernable lag, and I don’t have to muck around with cables or contacting that school’s IT department etc.


  7. Russell Knight August 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    In my experience, the great thing about the VGA adaptor is that there is no lag time, whereas both AppleTV and AirServer cause a slight delay for many apps. This delay is no problem for some apps, but in my music classroom, there are sme apps that are unusable if the sound doesn’t happen at the instant that you are asking it to on the iPad.

    The limitation of the VGA cable is you lose mobility of getting the iPad around the classroom. When I am using an app that doesn’t need the instantaneous response of the VGA cable, I prefer AirServer. The other great thing about AirServer as opposed to the AppleTV is that you can display multiple iPads at once. If using AirServer with multiple iPads in the room, students can simultaneously go to AirPlay and project. Obviously, each iPad displayed causes the individual display sizes to shrink, but this is a great way for students to show work from their seats and compare what others are doing.

  8. Trenton Rask-Knox August 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    I have a question if a professor is using an iPad to teach the class. Is it possible for: one they project it on to the projector screen utilizing the Airplay device and two they allow for Mac Air, Mac Pro, and Mac Pro Retina users/students to view the projections directly on their Mac laptop?

  9. Rebecca September 3, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    I just posted a note on how to setup an Ad Hoc network, for those times when you don’t have a wireless network and you want to connect to your projector.


  10. Robert September 4, 2012 at 3:42 am #

    Reflections now works on Windows as well as Mac….

    • James Hollis September 4, 2012 at 5:22 am #

      I’m so happy they have this working for the PC. I was unable to get Airserver to work but Reflection worked perfectly!



  11. Brian September 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    So how is sound handled in both scenarios? I assume it is ok in the first method because of the HDMI cable? In the second, that only refers to VGA use which is video. How do you get the sound from the iPad into the classroom speakers?

    • James Hollis September 4, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

      Hi Brian,

      If you do not have a projector with HDMI, you can get an HDMI to VGA converter to project the video. There are also HDMI to VGA converters which will also convert the digital audio to analog so you can plug into basic analog ports. When deciding what configuration to use, consider the real value of your old projector and decide whether it might be time to get a digital projector.

      The other option (Method 2) discussed using AirPlay and the Reflection software program. This program is not available for the PC. With Reflection installed, you mirror your iPad display – including audio – to your computer which can then be projected.



      • Brian September 6, 2012 at 11:47 am #

        Hi Jim, thanks for the reply. Projectors are mounted in the classrooms and I am not responsible for figuring out if we need over 100 new ones or not. They are there and faculty need to project their iPads. Some are VGA and some are HMDI capable. I assume the HDMI connection from Apple TV to the projector handles the audio and you suggest the convertor for the VGA ones as well.

        The 2nd method mentioned above mentions the Reflection app which is now available for Windows. We are going to try that here.

  12. bingowringo September 8, 2012 at 1:31 am #

    looks like this is a very cool way to do it too!


    • James Hollis September 9, 2012 at 9:15 am #


      Thanks for the video link to AirBridge. I have to put a couple of disclaimers in order for your comment to be approved.

      1. You you are a financial backer of this project.
      2. This solution (AirBridge) is not available now and is not scheduled to be available to the general public for quite some time.
      3. This solution has not been tested by the author of this blog.

      Author notes: I really like the potential of AirBridge and if it delivers on it’s promise, it could be a valuable tool for many schools. The one thing that sets this apart is its ability to communicate without existing wi-fi. The caveat to all of this is that this capability may be available through other companies by the time AirBridge is released sometime this Spring.

  13. Paula October 13, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    I have a Smartboard that’s already hooked up to my computer; therefore, I use it interactively. If I purchased the reflection software, will I be able to just use what I already have with my iPad project what’s on my iPad or willI need to purchase something else? Also, is there a software that’s or some type of device that’s available to control the computer with my iPad. Thanks

    • James Hollis October 15, 2012 at 4:46 am #

      Hi Paula,
      The Reflection software needs to communicate with your iPad using your WiFi connection. This will only allow you to display the iPad screen on the SB; you would not be able to use SB to control the iPad. As for controlling your computer with your iPad, I use the Splashtop Desktop app ($4.99). It works great and it’s less expensive than others.



      • Paula October 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

        Ok thanks soooo much Jim. I’m excited about being able to do this. Tks

      • Linda January 21, 2013 at 7:24 am #

        Isn’t Splashtop an app to view your laptop or PC on your iPad? The Splashtop app to mirror your iPad on the Smart Board is more expensive than both Air Server and Reflector.

        • James Hollis January 21, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

          Splashtop lets you control your computer using your iPad. For example if you have Smart Notebook running on the computer that is attached to the SMART Board, you could use the Splashtop app to view and control Smart Notebook using the iPad and whatever you do on the iPad (using Splashtop) will be seen on the Smartboard.

  14. Dewayne November 7, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    We have been using iPads and AppleTVs in our classrooms for about six months now and I can attest it has been a nightmare. We get disconnects when connected through AirPlay. Many times iPads can’t see the AppleTVs. We have a state-of-the art wireless network (Meru) at our school. We’ve had to upgrade our Meru controller thinking that was where our connection problem was, but that did not fix the drop connection etc.

    The iPad image projected via AppleTV and a projector is small and there’s really no way to adjust this image. With older projectors without HDMI connections and having a built-in sound system within the classroom, we discovered we had to purchase a separate device called a Kanex in order to get audio. One end of the Kanex has an HDMI connection that goes into the AppleTV and the other end of the Kanex has a VGA connection which you use to connect to the projector. The Kanex also has an audio input. When we mirror from an iPad to the AppleTV and projector we are able to control volume either via the iPad or the projector remote. But we’ve found that if we are playing something directly from the AppleTV, YouTube for example, there is no volume control…the AppleTV seems to take over the volume control from the projector remote. This doesn’t seem to be an issue if the projector has HDMI.

    Before you invest in an iPad, AppleTV, and the other devices necessary to project, please make sure this is the best option for you. It was all so much easier when all we needed to project an image was a laptop and a VGA cable.


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