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How to repurpose an old iPad and make it useful again

Reuse your old iPads.

After upgrading an iPad, you may want to find a use for your old one instead of disposing of it. Here are ways you can make your older iPads more useful.

When your iPad gets old and you want to get a new one, there are a number of ways you can reuse it to keep it useful. In our interconnected world, information is everywhere, and having a second or even a third iPad can come in very handy.

And, even when an app updates cutting off your iPad that may be stuck on iOS 15 or iOS 9, there's still a way to get older versions of software for it. You may have to get the newer version of an app on your new device first, but Apple keeps older versions around.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions on what to do with that old iPad that isn't your main device anymore.

Use your iPad as a second Mac display

If your iPad isn't too told and supports it, you can use your iPad as a second display for your Mac using Apple's Sidecar software.

You must have both your iPad and Mac signed into the same Apple Account to do so. macOS from macOS Catalina onward supports Sidecar, as does iPadOS 13 or later.

You must have any model iPad Pro, iPad 6th generation or later, iPad mini 5 or later, or an iPad Air 3 or later.

Apple has a tech note on how to use Sidecar.

Use your iPad as a photo frame

Since the Photos app is built-in to iPadOS, you can set up Albums in it, and then use slideshow mode to automatically cycle through the photos.

There are a variety of third-party accessories on Amazon and elsewhere that can help make your iPad into a digital photo frame. Special picture frames, slim batteries, wall mounts, and more are available.

There are also third-party apps such as WunderStation which aggregate weather data from various weather stations around the world.

Repurpose your iPad with third-party picture frames.
Third party picture frames.

Use your iPad as a weather station

Using the Apple Weather app as well as third-party apps which show NOAA weather radar, you can turn your iPad into a weather station. You can leave the weather apps running and switch between them, or you can remotely connect your iPad to Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as Arduino or Raspberry Pi.

You can set up a remote IoT weather system outside and then remotely monitor its sensors using your iPad to get accurate weather information. Both IoT platforms support a host of weather-monitoring sensors such as temperature/humidity, air quality (for pollution monitoring), altitude, and more.

There are a number of tutorials online describing how to set up an Arduino or Raspberry Pi to act as a weather station.

Use your iPad in your car

If your iPad has cellular service built-in, you can repurpose your old iPad to act as a map reader in your car. Even if your iPad doesn't have GPS you can still use it for maps if your car is within range of free WiFi, or can connect to some form of mobile hotspot.

Using a dashboard or windshield mount, you can attach your iPad to the interior of your car, so maps, music, and more are available at your fingertips. Just be sure not to get too distracted by maps while driving.

There's no good way to induce the CarPlay interface, unfortunately.

Use your iPad as a dedicated book/magazine reader

You can repurpose your old iPad to act as an e-book or magazine reader. A number of online book services such as Apple Books and Kindle are available.

There are also a lot of other third-party booksellers online such as Goodreads.

Some online outlets offer free public domain books and publications such as books from governments. There is also a wide array of medical research available online such as from NCBI and PubMed.

Beyond magazines in Apple News, many magazine publishers now offer digital subscriptions. You can download your favorite magazines directly to your iPad and read them at your leisure.

Use your iPad as a smart home controller

Smart home devices are growing in popularity and you can repurpose your old iPad as a central controller for all your smart home devices. Devices that work with Apple's HomeKit or Google's Nest or Home devices can be controlled via apps, and they don't always have to be the newest ones.

Google also has an online Home service and corresponding apps you can use to control it. Ring doorbells, Nest thermostats, security cameras and systems, and other devices can be controlled using apps on your iPad.

Use HomeKit for device control.
Apple's Home app.

You can also use smart power strips and outlets to remotely control power to devices using apps.

Smart home assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant can be used from your iPad to obtain information or control devices.

Use your iPad as an alarm clock

If you travel a lot, or even at home, you can use your iPad as an alarm clock. Using a small iPad stand in a hotel or on your nightstand, you can prop your iPad up and run any number of digital alarm clock apps to view the time.

Using an alarm clock app you can go full screen to display large numerals showing the time, date, and in some cases even the weather.

Apple's Clock app also has an alarm feature as well as clocks for multiple cities and time zones. There are also apps to track your sleep, that don't require the newest and greatest hardware.

If you don't need an old iPad you can always donate it to someone who does. Or you can recycle it to reduce e-waste and ensure the materials in the iPad are reused for a good purpose instead of ending up in a landfill.

Apple has an iPad trade-in program in which you can get a credit for a new iPad purchase.

Third-party services such as Gazelle and others buy old iPads.

There are also eco-ATMs at various supermarkets which allow you to drop your old iPad into a machine and get a payment for it in-store.

There are plenty of ways to reuse or recycle your iPad, even if it's really old. Definitely don't just throw it in the trash and let it go to waste.