There is something new and innovative that has come with the latest rollout of versions of Apple’s operating systems. It’s called Universal Control and in essence, it allows us to connect an iPad to your Mac to be able to use the screen as a second monitor.
It is very likely that most mortals already use a dedicated screen with better features. However, for those cases in which you find yourself working away from home or the office, it can come in handy to use the iPad as a second screen.
Actually, it has been something that has been possible to do for a long time. First of all through third-party software, and after the release of macOS Catalina in 2019, it was also possible with the Sidecar function to use the screen of a compatible iPad.
However, it wasn’t until the arrival of macOS Monterey that the functionality and use of Universal Control improved entirely. Although it was delayed from the initial Monterey release in 2021, it has finally arrived with macOS 12.3 in March 2022.
With Universal Control support is added to the point that it is possible to move the mouse between the Mac and iPad screen (second Mac monitor) and use the same keyboard with both.
The difference between Universal Control and Sidecar is that with Universal Control you can use the keyboard and mouse with your iPad as if it were still an iPad. With Sidecar, the iPad becomes a secondary display for the Mac, simply displaying the Mac interface.
In this article, we want to show you what you need to use your iPad as a second screen for your Mac, as well as how you can use your iPad as a second screen if your iPad or Mac doesn’t support the feature due to an older version of the operating system.
Can I use my iPad as a display for the Mac?
Before we dive into what you need to do to use your iPad as a second screen for your Mac, you should check that both your Mac and iPad support the feature, as not all computers can use Sidecar or Universal Control.
You will need the following for Sidecar:
- macOS Catalina or later (Most Macs since 2012 can run Catalina, but not all will work with Sidecar (see list below).
- An iPad with iPadOS 13 or later (see list below).
- You need to sign in with the same Apple ID on your Mac and iPad.
- You’ll need to be within 10 meters of your Mac if you connect it wirelessly.
Sidecar Compatible iPads:
- iPad Pro (all models)
- iPad (6th generation or later)
- iPad mini (5th generation or later)
- iPad Air (3rd generation or later)
Mac computers that work with Sidecar:
- MacBook Pro (2016 or later)
- MacBook (2016 or later)
- MacBook Air (2018 or later)
- iMac (2017 or later, as well as iMac 5K 27-inch Late 2015)
- Mac mini (2018 or later)
- Mac Pro (2019)
How to use iPad as a second screen for Mac
Once you’ve verified that you have the right equipment (based on the list above), you can use your iPad as a second display for your Mac, either mirroring it by showing the same thing, or extending your screen to extend the viewing area. the screen of your Mac.
You can choose to connect iPad directly to your Mac, or connect wirelessly via Bluetooth and Continuity (while maintaining a 10-meter range). There’s not much of a difference in terms of delay, but your iPad’s battery may last a bit longer if it’s plugged in.
How to use Sidecar to extend a Mac to an iPad screen
Setting up the iPad as a second screen is, in typical Apple fashion, pretty straightforward.
Make sure your iPad is unlocked and the screen is on before you begin (if your iPad turns off by itself after a minute, you’ll need to check your screen lock times).
Set up with MacOS Monterey 12.4 or later
- Make sure your iPad is unlocked and the screen is on
- Go to ‘System Preferences > Displays’ on your Mac.
- Click ‘Add Screen’, with the option to link keyboard and mouse, or mirror or extend. If you want to use iPad as an additional Mac display, you must choose to mirror or extend.
- When you click ‘Mirror or Extend’ on iPad, your Mac’s screen may change resolution to fit the new screen. If you find that the text is too small, please click ‘Display Settings’ and choose ‘Scaling’ to select the most comfortable.
- When you choose ‘Duplicate or extend’, your iPad will have changed to a Mac screen, with the same wallpaper. If the screen is extended, you will get an additional screen where you can drag windows from the regular screen.
- If you’re not already in extended mode, go to ‘System Preferences > Displays’ and choose ‘Display Settings’.
- Click on your iPad in the left column and go to the drop-down menu next to ‘Use As’ to choose ‘Stop Mirroring’.
Set up with versions prior to macOS Monterey 12.4
The process is slightly different if your computer is not running Monterey 12.4 or later.
- To connect it, you need to click on the ‘Control Center’ icon in the menu at the top of your Mac screen and click on ‘Display’. (In earlier versions of macOS, there was an AirPlay icon in the menu at the top right of the screen.)
- Next to the ‘Display’ section, you should see a display icon. Click on it. (Additionally, if you have an earlier version of macOS, you should see your iPad listed in the AirPlay menu options.)
- Choose the model of your iPad from the options offered.
- An extension of your Mac screen will appear on the iPad screen.
- If you prefer to mirror your Mac screen to iPad, instead of using iPad as an extension of your workspace, go back to the ‘Display’ menu and choose ‘Mirror’. (On earlier versions of macOS, click the new screen icon that appeared in the status bar; the AirPlay icon should be replaced.)
Use Sidecar to mirror a Mac on the iPad screen
If you want to mirror your Mac screen for whatever reason, like showing someone something on their screen, using iPad as a screen mirroring could be an ideal solution.
Note that you won’t be able to use touch to control the interface, so you won’t be able to swipe and tap. You will need help from the keyboard and the mouse.
To mirror your Mac screen to iPad, follow these steps:
With macOS Monterey 12.4 or later
- Go to ‘System Preferences > Displays’.
- Click ‘Add Screen’, where you will see the option to ‘Link keyboard and mouse’, or ‘Duplicate’ or ‘Extend’. If you want to use iPad as an additional Mac display, you must choose ‘Duplicate or extend’.
- By default, your iPad screen is probably now used as an extended Mac screen, rather than a mirror of your Mac screen.
- If this is the case, click ‘Display Settings’ and choose your iPad in the left column.
- In the column where it says ‘Use as’, switch to ‘Mirror’ mode for (your screen name).
Set up with versions prior to macOS Monterey 12.4
The process is slightly different if you’re not running Monterey 12.4 or later.
- To connect, you need to click the ‘Control Center’ icon in the menu at the top of your Mac screen and click ‘Display’. (In earlier versions of macOS, there was an AirPlay icon in the menu.)
- Next to the ‘Display’ section, you should see a display icon, click on it. (If you have an earlier version of macOS, you should see your iPad listed in the AirPlay menu options.)
- Choose your iPad from the options on offer.
- By default, an extension of your Mac screen will appear on the iPad screen. If you prefer to mirror your Mac screen to iPad, go back to the ‘Display’ menu and choose ‘Mirror’. (In earlier versions of macOS, click the new screen icon in the status bar; it should have replaced the AirPlay icon.)
Other Sidecar Features
Sidecar is much more than what many may think of as an extension of the workspace. Other features include:
- A virtual Touch Bar displayed on iPad, bringing many of the Touch Bar features currently exclusive to MacBook Pro to other Macs.
- Although it doesn’t support touch input, you can use an Apple Pencil and turn your iPad into a graphics tablet.
Next, we show you the list of iPad models that can be used as graphics tablets with the Apple Pencil 2 digital pencil.
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch
- 11-inch iPad Pro
- 10.5-inch iPad Pro
- iPad Pro 9.7-inch
How to use an iPad as a second screen on older Macs
If you’re one of those with an older-generation MacBook that doesn’t support Sidecar or Universal Control, you still have a few options you can turn to for setting up your iPad as an additional second display.
Third-party tools will let you use your iPad as a Mac monitor, but unlike Apple’s built-in features, these are generally paid apps.
You will need the following items:
- A Lightning to USB cable
- An IPAD
- software like DuetDisplay (€14.99), iDisplay (€14.99) or airdisplay (€14.99)
- A Mac running macOS 10.13.3 or earlier
Note that macOS 10.13.4 (High Sierra) removed some of the DisplayLink functionality these apps rely on, but that issue was resolved with the release of macOS Mojave 10.14.2, so it shouldn’t be a problem. with High Sierra.
How to use Duet Display to connect a Mac and an iPad
In this example, we use duet-display, which was developed by a team of former Apple engineers. Duet Display allows you to use the tablet as a second screen not only on your Mac, but also on a Windows computer.
Duet Display also provides limited touchscreen support, allowing you to tap and swipe around in macOS. It means you don’t have to waste time moving your mouse between the two screens.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up Duet Display to use your iPad (or any other iPad or iPhone) as a second display for your Mac or PC.
- On your iPad, open the App Store and install Duet Display. It’s a universal app, so it will also be available to use with your iPhone. It costs €14.99.
- On your Mac or PC, go to the Duet Display website and download the Duet app for Mac/Windows (free).
- Install the Duet companion app on your Mac. This is an important step, as the companion app allows your iPad and Mac to talk to each other. Follow the installation instructions and restart your Mac to complete the installation.
- On your iPad, open the Duet Display app and connect it to your Mac or PC with a Lightning cable.
- The iPad should be recognized by the Duet companion app, and your desktop should now span across both screens.
Quality settings can be adjusted through the Duet companion app on your Mac or PC to provide higher resolution graphics, smoother refresh rates, and more.
To turn off the screen, simply close the app on your iPad.
If you’re using your Mac with an external display and want to close the lid of your MacBook while you’re using it, see the article on how to use the MacBook with the screen closed.