How to Use Sidecar on Mac with iPad as a Second Display
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:
- Go to the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences” (or
- Click “Sidecar” from the preference options
- Click the dropdown box beneath “Devices” and select the iPad that you want to connect to as the Sidecar device
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.
- ”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.
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.