For Teachers, Trainers, & Students - Because They Deserve It

| Computing with Bifocals

Teachers, trainers, and students are really swell people. I know this is true because I have been all three. The teachers and trainers are usually underpaid and overworked, and most students are just trying to make it through school with the best grades possible. So when I discovered an app that would make life easier for all three groups I was thrilled. The app is called Reflector

Reflector app icon

But, there is good news, bad news, and good news.

Good news. This app allows the user to project what they are doing on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch onto a Mac (or PC) and from there onto a wall or projector screen so everyone in the room can see it.

As an example, there is an excellent educational app called How My Body Works (TMO Review) This app works in 3D to teach the functions of the body from the inside out and costs around US$10 with the in-app purchases.

One teacher with one iPad, a Mac, and the Reflector app can upload the educational app, use Reflector to project in real time what he or she is doing on the iPad onto the Mac, and with the aid of any digital projector, project that image on a wall or projector screen.

Students can use it make classroom presentations if the classroom computer has Reflector installed. Trainers can efficiently teach staff how to use specific applications in group settings. Think about nurses in hospitals and how many of them now use iPads when making rounds.

So now that everyone thinks this is pretty cool, comes the bad news.

Bad news. The instructions for installing the app suck. There is no other word for it. Whoever wrote them assumes, if they thought about it at all, that anyone who will be using the app understands the internal operation of their iOS device. Well guess what. Most of us don’t and the instructions leave out two key elements, without which you will never get this app to work. And yes, I did tell them that and they thanked me for sharing.

Good news. I could get all huffy, but that means that the people who could really benefit from using this app won’t be able to, so my humble self will now give you the step-by-step instructions for setting it up.

Download the app to your Mac. A single use license is US$12.99, a multi-pack of five licenses is $54.99. You only have to install it on your Mac. There isn't a corresponding app for your iOS device because you don't need one.

Open the app on your Mac. The only way you will know it is open is that you will see it as the active app in your tool bar.

Menu bar

On your Mac, with the Reflector app as your active app, choose Reflector > Preferences and put a check mark next to Use my Mac’s name and click the Done button. Of course, if you are making a presentation somewhere and using some other Mac, be sure to change this preference for that presentation.

Reflector preferenes

Select your device of choice. By-the-way,  you can project more than one iOS device on screen if needed. For instance, if you wanted to show how iTunes works on two different devices.

The first step is to double tap your home button quickly until the hidden dock listing all the apps you have open appears. Scroll left to right with your finger as far as you can go, until you get to the end and see this:

Air Play button

That round button is the Air Play button. Tap it, and you get a screen similar to the following. What you get will depend on which device you are using but you will see the name of the AirPlay name you selected within the Reflector app preferences. Highlight that one -

Select the Air Play button

As soon as you do the mirroring submenu will open. Swipe to turn it on.

Mirroring submenu

The instant you turn Mirroring on, your device will be displayed on your desktop and via the appropriate attachment cables, projected to a wall or projection screen. If you then project a second device, they will position themselves side by side.

iPhone reflected on screen

Every action you take on your device will automatically be projected. It is such a great training tool.

To exit, go back to the hidden dock, access the AirPlay button and turn off mirroring.

The next time you want to use Reflector you will have to turn the mirroring back on.

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4 Comments

John B

Thank you for sharing this, Nancy. Works perfectly. The only thing that’s kept me from buying an iPad for my classroom was the lack of ability to project on my screen. My Macbook spends the day connected to my projector, and with this app my problem is solved. I’ll be buying the next iPad whenever it’s out!

Damon

A great app. I have tried 2 different apps and this app consistently worked well. I highly recommend it.

amergin

Your Mac and you iOS device must also be on the same WiFi network. If, like me, your iMac is connected by ethernet to the internet you can share your internet connection in System Preferences and connect to this from your iOS device in the Settings app. You will then be able to connect the two devices. Network connectivity has been a tough one for many decades and there are many variables involved. I wouldn’t condemn the developers for not having written the perfect documentation for such a diverse topic, instead I would praise them for having developed such a useful and affordable app!

Frank Lowney

“Every action you take on your device will automatically be projected.”
Oh how I wish this were true.  First of all, there is no way to indicate touch events.  The iOS simulator does this crudely but Reflector cannot detect these events and, therefore, cannot represent them in any way on your Mac’s screen.  Secondly, playing video creates a completely different view than if you were viewing a video without projection.  This is an AirPlay thing but it creates a false image nonetheless.  You don’t project the controller and, therefore, cannot share that experience faithfully with an audience.
Still, I agree that Reflector is a great teaching/training tool.

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