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9 Ways to Get More Out of Your Underutilized Tablet

A man and woman looking at a piece of paper in a kitchen.
LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Is that tablet you bought when they were brand-new and all the rage now gathering dust in a forgotten drawer? You’re not alone. But tablets are still useful, and there’s no reason to let yours go to waste.

If you have both a smartphone and a computer, a tablet can seem redundant. While it isn’t essential tech for most people, that’s no reason not to use one you already have. Dust off that tablet and use it in one of these creative ways!

A Photo-Friendly E-Reader

If you’ve ever tried to use an e-reader for a photo-heavy read, like a cookbook or graphic novel, you were probably disappointed. From black-and-white limitations to difficulty zooming, e-readers clearly weren’t designed for pictures.

Fire up your tablet to actually enjoy the digital version of a picture-heavy book. It’s also great for catching up on your favorite webcomics!

A Game Surface

Tablets can re-create the experience of many popular tabletop and board games digitally. You can download apps of lots of beloved games, like Carcassonne, Catan, and Ticket to Ride.

While the tiny screen on your phone isn’t great for simulating a board game experience, the size of a tablet is pretty much perfect.


You can play audiobooks or podcasts all day long on your tablet and leave your phone free. Pair your tablet with speakers, or opt for headphones. Your tablet likely has a real headphone jack, so you can use old-school headphones, which many people find more comfortable.

You can also easily connect your tablet to traditional speakers—no Bluetooth magic required!

Video Chat

A woman holding a young girl on her lap, video chatting with a man on a tablet.

People are video chatting more than ever right now. You might not always feel like having casual conversations on your desktop computer.

However, your phone’s small screen isn’t great for video chats. Try them on your tablet instead to feel more “in the moment.”

A Portable TV

If you buy a clamp or tripod mount, your tablet becomes a portable, mini-TV you can take anywhere. If the mount is sturdy enough, you can even set it up as a bathtub TV. If you try the latter idea, we recommend you get a waterproof case for safety.

Choose New Content to Binge

If you use Chromecast or a smart TV, you might browse shows and movies on your phone, and then cast the one you select to your TV.

If you browse on your tablet instead, you’ll likely find picking what to watch next is a lot more fun. The bigger screen makes it easier to read summaries and watch previews in the apps you use.

Update Your To-Do List and Calendar

The beauty of modern to-do and calendar apps is you can often access them across all your digital tools. For example, you might use your calendar app the most when you’re working from your computer, but you can always add a quick update from your phone.

Updating on your phone’s small screen can get annoying, though—especially if you want to type some notes for later. This is far easier to do on your tablet. Many calendar apps also have tablet-specific features and layouts that make it much easier to plan your day.

A tablet is the perfect halfway point between pecking at a tiny phone screen or booting up your computer. You’ll more easily be able to see and edit your lists and calendars.

An Extra Screen

If you often find yourself having to switch between tabs while working on your computer, you might want to use your tablet as an additional screen. This way, you can keep information right in front of you, instead of constantly having to switch tabs. This is particularly helpful for projects that require you to frequently check research or notes.

With a little setup and a cable, your tablet can actually become a second screen for your computer.

Make Clutter-Free Art

Art and drawing apps are a great way to tap into some low-stakes creativity on your tablet. There are some really serious, powerful apps that will turn your tablet into a full-on digital studio. You don’t have to jump into one of those if you just want to doodle or color a bit, though.

Although they won’t fulfill a serious artist’s needs, there are hundreds of coloring, doodling, and simple art apps, like Pigment. You can find them in any app store and start creating right away! Plus, you won’t clutter up the house with art supplies or coloring books.

If you find you really like the digital workflow, you might even want to upgrade to an iPad Pro with a good stylus, like the Apple Pencil. There are also tons of other accessories that can really open the door if you’re serious about your digital art.

Put that neglected tablet to use, and you might soon find you can’t live without it!

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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