Learn how to use the Universal Control feature to bring your Mac and iPad together

Versions of macOS 12.3 and iPadOS 15.4 are here, and with them Universal Control, the long-awaited feature that Apple unveiled at WWDC 2021. Late last year, Apple announced that the arrival of Universal Control would be delayed until this spring, And now it has finally arrived.

For those of you who don’t know what it’s all about, the Universal Control feature allows you to use an iPad as an external display while using a Mac. During the demo at the key note At WWDC, Apple Vice President Craig Federighi positioned the iPad next to his Mac and it worked.

No cables to connect, no reboot, no need to press anything or say “please”; it just plugged in and worked like magic.

It requires a bit of initial setup, but after that, it really works like a charm.

How to connect iPad and Mac

Before you can enjoy this feature, you will need to make certain settings on your Mac.

The Universal Control feature is enabled by default on Mac and iPad, but you’ll need to go to the ‘Display’ panel in ‘System Preferences’ and select ‘Add Display’ to select your iPad.

You don’t have to do anything else on the iPad, but you will need to make sure you have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Handoff turned on.

By clicking on the Universal Control button, you will also see some new options.

The whole operation is extremely simple: you don’t need to pay attention to the iPad at all.

Once set up, just bring the iPad closer to the Mac; Apple says they have to be at least 30 feet away from each other, essentially in Bluetooth range. You then move your Mac’s cursor past the edge of the screen, and a bar appears at the edge of the iPad’s screen to let you know that magic is about to happen. Move the cursor a bit more, and voila! You’re using the iPad via your Mac’s mouse or trackpad.

How to use Universal Remote

Once you interact with your Mac and iPad for the first time, you’ll be able to move between the two devices easily. The sidebar that appeared on initial login no longer appears. And that’s it, all set.

I had no problems in the first few hours of using Control Universal.

How to disconnect and reconnect

Use your iPad like you normally do without being connected to a Mac. Then, when you want to reconnect to your Mac, just tap the Universal Control icon in the iPad Dock and your iPad will magically reconnect to your Mac, no fuss. .

In my tests, I was able to easily reconnect even if I moved the iPad away from the MacBook Pro more than 30 feet away, or put the iPad to sleep by quickly pressing the power button.

However, when I turned off the iPad and turned it back on, I couldn’t connect again just by placing the iPad next to the MacBook Pro. I had to go into the display preferences panel and add the iPad as a display.

It was there that I found the setting that I had overlooked and that is essential that you activate if you want to reconnect easily and quickly: “Automatically reconnect to any nearby Mac or iPad.”

How to control iPad using devices connected to Mac

When you use the iPad using the Universal Control feature, you’ll see a dot-shaped cursor appear that represents the cursor you’re controlling with the iPad. trackpad of the Mac

The dot changes color depending on where you pass it: it will be white if it moves over dark colors or icons, and it will be darker when it is over lighter colors.

You can use the iPad as you normally would with your finger. It’s basically the same experience as using a Magic Keyboard with an iPad Pro.

How to use Universal Remote

In my experience, I’ve been able to drag a file from the iPad Photos app to the Mac desktop. However, when I drag a picture from the Mac to the iPad Home screen, the icon disappears and I can’t find the file anywhere. place.

The explanation is as follows: what you have to do is drag the file from the Mac to an open application on the iPad. That is, in the case of an image, you have to drag it to Photos, Files or any other application you want.

How are Universal Control and Sidecar different?

Setting iPad as an external display for your Mac is also done through the Displays setting. You can choose to mirror your Mac to the iPad screen or extend your desktop (make the Mac screen bigger by joining the iPad screen).

This feature is actually called Sidecar and is separate from the Universal Control feature. As you can see below, they are quite different.

Apple places a touch interface bar on the side of the iPad screen that you can use if you want to use your finger. For example, with the iPad set to mirror the Mac screen, I opened Pages, and then started typing on the document using the touch keyboard provided by the sidebar.

There are buttons for ‘Shift’, ‘Control’, ‘Option’ and Command, and others for making the menu bar and Dock appear or hide. There is also a button to disconnect the iPad from the Mac.

How to use Universal Remote

Overall, my initial experience with the Universal Control feature has been very good. During testing over a couple of hours, the connection never dropped unexpectedly, there was no lag, and I didn’t encounter any strange behavior.

Original article published in Macworld US.