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How to Use an iPad as Your Mac's Second Display

One screen isn't always enough, especially if you're using a MacBook with a smaller display. However, Apple's Sidecar feature offers the ideal solution. You can use Sidecar to connect your iPad to your Mac as a second display (wired or wireless), effectively giving you access to two monitors whenever and wherever you need them. This feature is not only very useful but also quite simple to set up.

During the transition to online schooling following the pandemic, I stumbled across the Sidecar feature, and it immediately proved crucial to my academic practice. Having a second display during online sessions was really practical because I could readily refer to my notes on my iPad while keeping my Mac screen free to concentrate on the lectures of my teachers. I should point you that Sidecar would severely drain my iPad's battery, and the iPad's screen would slow if my Mac was simultaneously running many programs.

Make sure your iPad and Mac meet the Sidecar system requirements before you begin using the app. On Macs, Sidecar is compatible with Macs running macOS Catalina or later, while on iPads, Sidecar is compatible with iPads running iOS 13 or later. Apple maintains a list of all the supported devices if you're not sure if yours will work.

Additionally, your Mac and iPad need to be linked. It may be connected to your Mac using a USB cable, keeping it powered up while you use the Sidecar features. If the iPad and Mac are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, it can also be done wirelessly. The option to link your iPad to your Mac will be available in the AirPlay menu if you are running MacOS Catalina.

The devices must be within 30 feet (10 meters) of one another if utilizing Sidecar wirelessly. The iPad needs to be configured to "trust" your Mac if you're using Sidecar over USB. Additionally, two-factor authentication must be used to sign into both devices using the same Apple ID.

Setting Up Sidecar

Getting started with Sidecar is fairly simple. Once your iPad and Mac are connected, move your pointer over the full-screen button of a window on your Mac and hover. A dropdown menu should appear with options to "Enter Full Screen," "Tile Window to Left of Screen," "Tile Window to Right of Screen" and "Move to iPad." To use Sidecar, select Move to iPad.

With Sidecar, getting started is not too difficult. When your iPad and Mac are linked, move your mouse pointer over a window's full-screen button and hold it there while you hover. The options to "Enter Full Screen," "Tile Window to Left of Screen," "Tile Window to Right of Screen," and "Move to iPad" should display in a dropdown menu. Choose Move to iPad to use Sidecar.

Using Sidecar

It's time to start using your iPad as a second display now that Sidecar is configured. The Sidebar will show up on your iPad screen once you've transferred your Mac screen there. You can access the three most used Mac controls—Command, Option, and Shift—via the Sidebar. These commands can be selected by tapping with a finger or an Apple Pencil.

You can navigate your second display by using multi-touch gestures on your iPad if you're using it as a second display. For instance, you can use two fingers on your iPad to scroll up or down on a website just like you would on your Mac. If you're interested in using your fingers to navigate your second display, Apple has a comprehensive list of multi-touch gestures.

You can also use your Apple Pencil to control your display when using Sidecar on your iPad. When drawing or editing images, using your Apple Pencil while your Mac screen is on might be useful. You will be able to see real-time changes made with your Apple pencil on your Mac if you are mirroring your Mac's screen to your iPad. The second-generation Apple Pencil's double-tap capability, which lets you conduct custom actions by double-tapping its side, is supported by Sidecar and may be activated in System Preferences.

Regardless of whether your Mac supports one, Sidecar now enables you to use a MacBook Touch Bar. As usual, you can use your finger or an Apple Pencil to tap the Touch Bar controls. To enable the Touch Bar, go to the Apple Menu> System Preferences> Mission Control and make sure that "Displays have separate spaces" is set. This will help if the Touch Bar does not show when running an app that supports Touch Bar controls.

You can use the keyboard and mouse that come with your Mac or the ones that come with your iPad when using Sidecar.

You can utilize the iPad's apps in the same way you normally would. You can use the Sidecar app to go back to your Sidecar screen after switching to an iPad app. While using Sidecar, the Sidecar app ought to appear on your iPad's home screen.

If you are using macOS Monterey, go to the Apple Menu > System Preferences > Displays and then pick your iPad under "Displays" to adjust Sidecar settings, such as whether or not the Sidebar or Touch Bar is shown. Select Apple Menu > System Preferences and pick Sidecar if you are using macOS Big Sur or Catalina.