Home Apple How to Use an iPad as a Second Screen for Your Mac

How to Use an iPad as a Second Screen for Your Mac

by Kyle Meranda

Apple fans are known for their dedication to the Apple ecosystem, and one of the benefits of investing in multiple Apple devices is the ability to seamlessly integrate them. If you have both an iPad and a Mac, you can extend your Mac desktop to the iPad and use it as an attached monitor. This can be a useful feature if you want to turn your Macbook into a mobile multitasking marvel or if you want to bypass the external display limit on modern Apple Silicon Macs. Additionally, some iPads have professional-grade color-accurate screens, making them ideal for various creative jobs.

To get your iPad and Mac to work together as an extended display, there are a few requirements and preparations you need to make:

1. Both devices must be signed in to the same Apple ID.
2. Your Mac must run macOS Catalina or later.
3. You need a fairly modern Mac, such as a 2016 or later MacBook or MacBook Pro, a 2018 or later MacBook Air, a 2017 or later iMac, an iMac Pro, a 2018 or later Mac Mini, a 2019 or later Mac Pro, or a Mac studio.
4. On the iPad side, you’ll need iPadOS 13 or later running on any iPad Pro, 6th generation or later iPad, 5th generation or later iPad Mini, or 3rd Generation or later iPad Air.
5. Both devices must be within 10m/33ft of each other, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Handoff activated (these are usually on by default).
6. Internet connection sharing must not be active on either device.
7. If you prefer a USB connection instead of a wireless one, you’ll need an appropriate USB cable to connect both devices.

It’s important to note that if you choose to use a USB cable to connect your iPad and MacBook, the MacBook’s battery will drain faster because it will start charging the iPad. To mitigate this, it’s recommended to connect the MacBook to a power source such as a wall adapter or a power bank. Otherwise, sticking to the wireless mode is a good option.

Before we dive into the steps, it’s essential to understand the difference between SideCar and Universal Control. SideCar is the feature we are focusing on here, where your iPad acts as an extended display for your Mac. On the other hand, Universal Control allows you to move your mouse and keyboard control between the two devices and easily copy files or content, but the iPad runs its own software, separate from the Mac.

To activate SideCar and extend your Mac display to the iPad, follow these steps:

1. Open the Apple Menu, then go to System Settings and click on Displays.
2. Click the “+” button.
3. Select “iPad” under “Mirror or extend to.”
4. Your iPad screen should now change to an extended Mac desktop version. If the iPad appears on the wrong side of the monitor, click on Arrange and drag the image of the iPad to the correct side of your screen.
5. An alternative method to activate SideCar is by using the quick menu. Click on the Quick Menu icon, which is a small icon in the menu bar left of the Siri icon and clock. Then click on Screen Mirroring and select “use as separate display” under “iPad.”

To disable SideCar, simply repeat the steps mentioned above and select iPad again to stop SideCar.

Overall, extending your Mac desktop to your iPad can enhance your multitasking abilities and open up new possibilities for creative work. Whether you’re a professional or an avid Apple fan, this feature can make your Apple devices even more versatile and convenient to use.

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