How to Use Sidecar on Mac with iPad as a Second Display

Dec 11, 2019 - 5 Comments

Sidecar compatible Mac and iPad models

Sidecar allows an iPad to be used as a secondary external display with a Mac. This great feature was brought to Mac with macOS Catalina, and it makes it possible to extend a Mac Desktop onto a compatible iPad, giving you a second monitor without actually needing a second monitor.

Using Sidecar can be of particular benefit to anyone who spends their days using a Mac notebook with an iPad and would like the opportunity to have a little more space with which to work. You can even use your Apple Pencil with compatible apps, and because you don’t need to use any cables, you can have an instant wireless multi-monitor setup on the go. Suddenly a dual-display workstation at the local coffee shop isn’t as absurd as it might sound.

As always there are some things you’ll need in order to use Sidecar. Software-wise the iPad needs to be running iPadOS 13 or later while the Mac has to have macOS 10.15 Catalina or later installed. Not all hardware is supported, however, so be sure to check Sidecar compatibility to be sure your devices support the feature.

Alongside a compatible hardware and software setup, you also need to make sure that:

  • Both the Mac and iPad have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled.
  • Both devices must have Handoff enabled and be using the same Apple ID / iCloud account.

How to Use Sidecar on Mac with iPad

Assuming you have everything you need on the software and hardware side, actually using Sidecar is as easy as can be. From the Mac, do the following:

  1. Go to the  Apple menu and choose “System Preferences” (or “System Settings”)
  2. Click “Sidecar” from the preference options in System Preferences, otherwise go to “Displays” in System Settings
  3. Click the dropdown box beneath “Devices” and select the iPad that you want to connect to as the Sidecar device

How to enable Sidecar on Mac with iPad

Your iPad’s screen will change to show your Mac’s desktop and you can then use it as you would any other display.

Customizing Sidecar Options: Sidebar, Touch Bar, etc

Once Sidecar is active on Mac and iPad, you can change how it functions while still in the Sidecar section of System Preferences:

  • “Show Sidebar” activates the sidebar on your iPad. That provides easy access to common key commands. You can also choose where the sidebar appears.
  • Sidecar settings panel

  • ”Show Touch Bar” puts a software Touch Bar replacement on the iPad. Anything that would appear on a Touch Bar will appear here, too. Again, you can choose where the Touch Bar appears a on-screen, too.
  • “Enable Double Tap on Pencil” enables the feature where users can double tap on the side of an Apple Pencil. The current app needs to have specific support for this feature in order for it to work.

Using an Apple Pencil with Sidecar

If you have an Apple Pencil setup with iPad Pro or iPad, you can also use that Apple Pencil in sidecar.

Apple Pencil can be used in place of a mouse or trackpad, too. Just tap the area on-screen that you would normally click.

This also means that you can use an Apple Pencil with Mac apps that would normally require a special drawing or graphics tablet. With Sidecar, you can use the Apple Pencil and iPad that you already own to serve that same functionality.

Apple Pencil 2nd generation

Sidecar really can change your multitasking game especially if you use a small-screened Mac laptop. Having the extra screen real estate is transformative, so if you have a Mac and iPad then you should absolutely give the feature a try.

We’ve got a ton more Mac and iPad guides out there – be sure to check them out. You never know what cool tricks you’re missing out on!


Related articles:

Posted by: Oliver Haslam in iPad, Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. ti says:

    You can enable Sidecar on more Macs and older iPads with this utility

  2. Martin says:


    Yes you can do this. If you set up your ipad and then got to System Preferences/Displays/Gather Windows then move the small window above the big window.

    You can then use your mouse by going up to the top of the screen.


  3. Martin says:


    You can only use sidecar left and right which can be set in system preferences/sidecar.

  4. no way says:

    Check out AirDisplay, works great and does much more and it’s free.

  5. Andy says:

    Thanks for the excellent sidecar article. Is it possible to adjust any setting to make the mouse pointer leave the macbook pro screen at the top of the screen, instead of the left or right of the screen? I mounted my ipad above my macbook screen and want to transfer the mouse pointer from one device to the other by moving it up and down. I found it too confusing to move it left and right when I wanted it to up and down. It’s easy to make this happen in MS Windows – which is no help at all.



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