Turn Your iPad Into a Second Mac Screen with Sidecar
The Retina display of your iMac or Macbook is an ethereal feature, prized by artists, movie lovers and designers alike. The one thing that makes it better?An extended version of this display—a second screen. If you don’t want to spend extra cash for new hardware, there’s a slick new way to build a second monitor.
Sidecar is a groundbreaking new feature in macOS Catalina (version 10.15) that lets you sync your iPad and Mac screens like never before. Combine both your favorite devices into one seamless experience that can amps up productivity and convenience by leaps and bounds.
The feature is quick and easy to use. According to your needs, your iPad can be turned either into a portable mirror display, or used as a secondary extended display. If you and your friend want to comfortably watch the same movie without hunching over a single screen, Sidecar lets one person enjoy it on a Macintosh system and the other on an iPad. Got an important presentation? Draw, edit and pull focus on your iPad, as others view it on a larger Mac screen.
- A compatible desktop or laptop computer installed with macOS Catalina. Most Macs from 2012 and beyond can run Catalina, but not all work with Sidecar
- An iPad running on iPadOS 13
- You have to be logged into the same iCloud account on your iPad and Mac
- If using a wireless connection, the devices must be within 10 meters (approx. 33 feet) of each other
- If using a wired connection, use a USB-C to USB-C cable to connect the new model iPad Pros. Use the USB-C to Lightning cable to connect Lightning port-equipped iPads
Sidecar compatible iPads:
- iPad Pro: 11-inch, 12.9-inch, 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch
- iPad (6th generation or its later versions)
- iPad Air (3rdgeneration) & iPad Mini (5th Generation)
Sidecar compatible Macs:
- MacBook (2016 or later versions)
- MacBook Pro (2016 or later versions)
- MacBook Air (2018 or later versions)
- iMac Pro
- iMac (2015, 2017 and later versions)
- Mac Pro 2019
- Mac mini (2018 or later)
How does Sidecar work?
Sidecar uses the Continuity feature provided by Apple. The initial connection is established via Bluetooth,after which data is transferred through a point-to-point Wi-fi connection.
This is a low latency connection, meaning you’ll only experience small delays when sending events from one device to another. There is virtually no drop rate, and Sidecar works with both wired and wireless connections. The wired connection helps reduce delays that crop up from a weak internet connection. If using a wireless connection, make sure your Mac and the iPad have their Bluetooth, Wi-fi and Handoff features turned on.
Using Sidecar to turn your iPad into a second screen: a step-by-step guide
First, you need to activate the Sidecar option on both Mac and iPad.
- Browse your Mac’smenu or desktop dock to find ‘System Preferences’
- Tap on ‘Sidecar’
- Under ‘Connect to’ click on ‘Devices’
- Select your iPad from the dropdown menu
If you can’t find your iPad in the list of devices, then plug your iPad into the Mac using a wired connection with a Lightning or USB-C cable.
Use the ‘Sidecar Preferences’ option on your iPad to turn off Sidecar, or to change its left-right positions. A ribbon lists all of Sidebar’s keyboard controls on one side of your iPad screen. This is if you want to use an Apple Pencil.
Here are all the key controls and their respective functions:
Integrate your Apple Pencil
To work with Sidecar, a first or second-generation Apple Pencil (depending on your iPad) will act as a mouse to carry out tasks like selecting, clicking or dragging items across the screen. The pencil works best when used with design applications like Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop. You can explore your creative vision with these apps by transforming your iPad into a graphics tablet for your Mac. Sketch out art, edit pictures and paint new wonders, courtesy the interactivity of the pencil and your Mac’s crisp retina display.
To customise the Apple Pencil options for Mac, go to System Preferences >Sidecar> According to your drawing habits, select/deselect the checkbox for ‘Enable double tap on Apple Pencil’, and ‘Show pointer when using Apple Pencil’.
Design lovers, take note
Apple announced a list of art and editing softwares that are compatible with Sidecar. As more users work from home, their options and their accessibility may see major upgrades:
- Affinity Photo & Designer
- Adobe Illustrator
- Cinema 4D
- Final Cut Pro
- DaVinci Resolve
- Substance Designer and Painter
The speed and convenience of Sidecar make it a thoughtful and compelling release. In the coming months, we’re sure more and more people will start mounting their iPads next to their Mac screen. For more information on Sidecar, see Apple’s official release.
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