Use iPad as Second Mac Screen with Sidecar

The MacBook has a small screen, often making it difficult to multitask. The new Sidecar feature in macOS Catalina makes it easy to use an iPad as an extra screen.

By Chand Bellur

October 16, 2019 at 1:12 p.m. PDT

macOS Catalina Sidecar Turns iPad into Extra Mac Screen

Apple is known for creating compact devices. The MacBook line of notebooks is no exception to this rule. With either a 13″ or 15″ screen, these compact computers can travel anywhere, but the small screen leaves much to be desired. External monitors and docking stations can improve screen size in an office setting, but are impractical for the road warrior.

A new feature in macOS Catalina, Sidecar, makes it easy to convert an iPad into an extra Mac screen. Beyond an extra screen, the technology allows an iPad to serve as a Touch Bar and drawing stylus/tablet for the Mac.

How to Use Sidecar

As with most Apple features, Sidecar is ridiculously easy to use. Ensure that your Mac and iPad are running the latest operating systems and are signed in with the same Apple ID. Sidecar can work over Bluetooth or the Lightning connector. If you’re going wireless, ensure that Bluetooth is active on both your Mac and iPad and that the two devices are no farther than 10 feet apart.

With both devices either connected or within Bluetooth range, open the AirPlay menu on your Mac. Next, choose either to extend your display or mirror your display. Extending your display turns your iPad into an extra monitor. It can run separate apps and browser tabs. Mirroring your display will show the same contents on your Mac as on your iPad. This mode is useful for doing presentations, where the speaker can draw and control the presentation from the tablet. It’s also useful if two people want to watch the same movie in a car or airplane.

When using Sidecar, the App Dock on your iPad can either serve as a Touch Bar or a container for frequently accessed documents and shortcuts. Several apps support Sidecar, including Adobe Illustrator, Final Cut Pro X and Cinema 4D.

iPads and Macs Compatible with Sidecar

Not every Mac and iPad support Sidecar, however, the list is quite inclusive. Any iPad capable of running iPadOS supports Sidecar:

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro
  • 11-inch iPad Pro
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Air 2

Unlike the iPad, not every macOS Catalina-compatible Macintosh makes the cut for Sidecar support. The Mac is doing the heavy lifting, so it needs a fair amount of processing power for the feature. The following Macs support Sidecar:

  • MacBook Pro, 2016 or later
  • MacBook, 2016 or later
  • MacBook Air, 2018 or later
  • iMac, 2016 or later plus the iMac Retina 5K, 27-inch, late 2015 model
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac mini, 2018 or later
  • Mac Pro, 2019

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