See my other Mac and macOS posts.
- What is Sidecar
- How Does it Work?
- How do I Set Up Sidecar?
- Using Sidecar
- System Requirements
Sidecar is a feature beginning with macOS 10.15 and iPadOS 13. It allows you to use your iPad as an additional Mac display. I am fortunate that both my Mac and iPad are relatively new. If you want to try Sidecar you need to check that your equipment meets the requirements.
Many can take advantage of this feature when they are traveling with their laptop. It can be equally useful, though with your desktop. I have been an advocate of using multiple displays for years to extend my desktop. Recently the adapter driving the second display on my Mac mini failed. While I was waiting for the replacement to arrive, I tried out Sidecar. I have been very pleased with it. So much so that I now set up my iPad as my third display every time I work on the computer. You can see my desk configuration in the photo above.
I take advantage of the wireless connection over IEEE-802.4 Wi-Fi. That way I can plug in the USB-C cable to charge the iPad while using it as a display. There are times when I experience a little latency. That would be resolved if necessary by using a wired connection. I don’t do that often as the USB-C ports on my Mac mini do not supply enough power to charge the iPad. Since I am not using an Apple Pencil for graphic input this has not been an issue.
If you have one, you can also use an Apple Pencil on the connected iPad. You can use it for pressure-sensitive drawing or sketching in Mac Apps. You can also use the pencil as a pointing device on the display. Any Mac Apps that support drawing tablets should automatically work with Sidecar .
In a sense, Sidecar gives the Mac the touchscreen ability that several users have wanted. If you are contemplating buying a Mac Laptop with Touch Bar, Sidecar lets you ‘try before you buy’.
Sidecar utilizes the same technology as in Continuity. It uses Bluetooth to make the initial connection. Point-to-point Wi-Fi is then used for subsequent data transfers. The virtual display technology built into macOS sends the signal to the iPad. This is over an encrypted data stream for security. The low-latency connection sends video to the iPad. Likewise, user input signals are returned to the Mac [5, 11].
Both macOS and iPadOS come with everything you need to run Sidecar. Sidecar must be initiated from the Mac. Apple provides a few different ways to connect your Mac to an iPad [2, 5]. I chose to use the System Preference panel method . Just open System Preferences on your Mac and double-click on Sidecar.
At his point you have three options you can enable for your Sidecar display. First, you can optionally show the Sidebar on either the left or right side of your iPad screen. The Sidebar contains some commonly used controls. Use your finger or Apple Pencil to choose them. I have never used the controls so I have opted to disable that feature to gain a little more viewing space.
Some Mac laptops have a Touch Bar beneath the screen on the keyboard. This feature can be optionally added to the top or bottom of your iPad display. The Touch Bar controls will be for the window displayed in Sidecar. The last option is to allow double tap on your Apple Pencil. There are also multi-touch gestures you can use on the iPad display .
Once Sidecar is set up you can use it like any other display. To choose how the displays are arranged in relation to one another go to System Preferences. Now double-click on Displays and click on the Arrangement tab. Just drag your Sidecar display to where you want it.
The default mode and my preference is to have Sidecar extend my desktop. If that is the case you can just drag windows between the displays. You can also move the cursor over the green circle in the top left-hand corner of a window (see image above). A drop-down menu will appear and one of the choices will allow you to relocate the window to the Sidecar display.
On the other hand, you might want to use Sidecar in mirroring mode. That way an audience can view your Mac while you draw on the mirrored Mac screen on an iPad. You could also use this on a plane. Watch a video on your laptop while your neighbor watches it with you on the iPad. Best to do that with a cable rather than wirelessly though .
You can leave Sidecar on your iPad at any time to access the local Apps. You can take advantage of the iPad’s multitasking so you do not have to terminate Sidecar. Just swipe up from the bottom of the iPad screen. This will take you to the iPad’s Home Screen.
When you are done using the iPad App just touch the Sidecar icon to resume the Mac Display function. This will likely be in the recent-Apps portion of the iPad dock.
If your iPad has a keyboard such as Apple’s Smart Keyboard then it acts as an additional Mac keyboard while Sidecar is running . You can also use multi-touch gestures on the iPad. Gestures must be enabled on the iPad. Go to Settings -> Hone Screen & Dock -> Multitasking. Make sure that Gestures are turned on (green) . The most common gestures are:
- Two-finger swipe to scroll
- Pinch in with three fingers to copy
- Double pinch with three fingers to cut
- Three -finger pinch out to paste
- Three-finger swipe left to Undo
- Three-finger swipe right to Redo
You can use Continuity Sketch to create a drawing on the iPad and add it to a document on the Mac. You can use your finger or an Apple Pencil in Continuity Mark Up. That will let you sign or mark up documents [5, 11].
Not all Macs and iPads can run Sidecar. The general requirements are that:
- Both devices must be signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID
- If using Sidecar wirelessly the units must be within 10 meters of each other. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Handoff must be turned on.
- The Mac must be running macOS 10.15 Catalina or later
- The Mac must be a: 2016 or later Mac Book Pro, 2016 or later Mac Book, 2018 or later Mac Book Air, 2017 iMac, 2015 iMac retina 5K, iMac Pro, 2018 or later Mac Mini, 2019 Mac Pro
- IPad must be running iPadOS 13 or later
- The iPad must be a: iPad Pro, iPad 6th generation or newer, iPad mini 5th generation or newer, iPad Air 3td generation or newer
- Do your Mac and iPad meet the system requirements for the Sidecar feature? 10–22–19
- Use your iPad as a second display for your Mac with Sidecar
- Check iPad Mac Sidecar Requirements
- How To Use Apple Sidecar
- Sidecar Apple Tech Brief 10–19
- Sidecar on your Mac
- Use your iPad as a second display for your Mac
- Everything you need to know about Apple Sidecar
- Sidecar: Turn an iPad Into a Secondary Mac Display 10–13–20
- Apple Sidecar explained: How Apple is using the iPad to make the Mac even better
- Apple Sidecar: Use your iPad as a second screen for your Mac 11–12–19
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