Astropad Slate lets you control your Mac using an iPad and Apple Pencil

Astropad Slate; turn iPad into a drawing tablet
(Image credit: Astropad)

Astropad Slate enables you to control your Mac using an iPad and Apple Pencil, turning the advanced tablet into a no-screen drawing 'slate'. It's a simple idea and one I'm surprised hasn't been done before.

This is a slightly different approach to Astropad Studio, one of the best drawing apps for iPad, that mirrors your desktop display on your iPad, turning the tablet into a pen display and means you can control full-fat software rather than apps. Astropad Slate is the reverse, enabling you to control your Mac and use the device as a no-screen drawing tablet, but one where Apple Pencil is your stylus.

The press blurb says "The idea for Slate came in 2022 when Apple announced new iPads with Apple Pencil hover. It got us thinking about the traditional no-screen pen tablets that so many artists start their creative journeys with. Could we bring that same experience to iPad?"

So, does it work? Absolutely. Having tried Astropad Slate, it's a very accessible setup and really does replicate the feeling of using one of the best drawing tablets on a Mac. I'm using a new 2023 Apple iPad Pro and Apple Pencil 2, so I get to use Hover, which means I can drift the stylus over the screen-less surface and tap to 'click' on menus and options. 

On a basic level it's fun being able to go from mouse-like movements and control to being able to hand-write directly into documents. Using the iPad vertically or horizontally, the top area has a pull-down box for handwriting, turning your scribble into typed text, which some will find faster than typing.

Because you're using the iPad as a non-screen drawing tablet, you get the sensitivity and gesture control of Apple's device. Both one- and two-finger gesture controls work to scroll and zoom on the Mac, just as you'd use a trackpad.

Astropad Slate; handwriting on an iPad as a tablet

The top box turns handwriting into text on a Mac. (Image credit: Astropad)

Of course how good it is for digital art will depend on the size of your iPad. I have an 11-inch iPad, which makes it feel akin to the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Small, though as someone who has a drawing tablet, I'm not sure I'd replace either the Xencelabs Small or Medium tablets. But, if you don't have a drawing tablet, then Astropad Slate is a great solution.

 is still in beta and you can download the app from the Astropad website and try it for yourself. There are some caveats, you'll need an iPad running iPad IOS 15.0 or later and a Mac with macOS 11.0 or later.

If you're new to this brand, then read my review of the Astropad Darkboard review and my Astropad Rock, Paper, Pencil review; this excellent drawing cover and Apple Pencil nibs make digital art on iPad a joy. Of course, you'll need one of the best iPads for drawing too. 

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Ian Dean
Editor, Digital Arts & 3D

Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & 3D at Creativebloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his experiences to bring the latest news on AI, digital art and video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Procreate, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5. He's also a keen Cricut user and laser cutter fan, and is currently crafting on Glowforge and xTools M1.