How to Use Universal Control on Mac & iPad

Mar 16, 2022 - 5 Comments

Setup and Use Universal Control for Mac and iPad

Universal Control allows a single mouse and keyboard on a Mac to control additional Macs and iPads, simply by dragging the mouse cursor over to those screens or devices. It’s a fantastic feature for Mac users who have several Macs and an iPad or two, and it can really help propel productivity to a new level.

We’ll walk through which devices support Universal Control, how to enable it, and how to use the excellent feature on Mac and iPad.

Universal Control System Requirements

You will need to make sure all Macs are running macOS Monterey 12.3 or later, and iPads must be running iPadOS 15.4 or later.

Additionally, all involved devices must be logged into the same Apple ID, and have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled. The devices must also be in close proximity to one another.

Individual Macs and iPads that support Universal Control are as follows:

Universal Control Supported Macs:

  • MacBook Pro (2016 and later)
  • MacBook (2016 and later)
  • MacBook Air (2018 and later)
  • iMac (2017 and later)
  • ‌iMac‌ (5K Retina 27-inch, Late 2015 or later)
  • ‌iMac‌ Pro (any model)
  • Mac Mini (2018 and later)
  • Mac Pro (2019 and later)

Universal Control Supported iPads:

  • iPad Pro (any model)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
  • ‌iPad‌ (6th generation and later)
  • iPad mini (5th generation and later)

How to Enable & Use Universal Control on Mac & iPad

Enabling Universal Control is easy on MacOS and iPadOS. You will need to repeat these steps on every Mac or iPad that you want to have access to Universal Control, however.

  1. On iPad, confirm Universal Control is enabled by going to Settings > General > Cursor and Keyboard is toggled on
  2. On Mac, go to  Apple menu > System Preferences > Displays > Universal Control > and check all the boxes to enable the feature
  3. Enabling Universal Control on Mac

  4. On the Mac and still in the Displays preference panel, arrange the Mac and iPad displays how you want them to appear and be used by Universal Control – generally speaking having them mimic the physical setup on your workstation is recommended
  5. Arrange Displays orientation in Universal Control

  6. To add additional devices to Universal Control, from the Mac Display system preference panel, go to the bottom left corner pull down the menu and choose “Add Display”, selecting the additional Mac or iPad to add under “Link Keyboard and Mouse” – note that each device must also have Universal Control enabled and be compatible with the feature
  7. Universal Control is now enabled, try it out by dragging your cursor from the Mac to your other devices by extending the cursor to the edge of the screen and continuing to push the cursor until it appears on the other Mac or iPad display

There you go. You’re now using Universal Control, and it’s pretty great!

You can drag and drop files between Macs, and even the iPad with the Files app. You can copy and paste data between the Macs and iPads. You can type on a different device simply by moving the cursor over to it. How cool is this?

Apple provides a simple walkthrough video that may be helpful for some users during setup, it’s quite short but basically runs through the setup we covered further above:

Note that you can also simultaneously use Sidecar, the fantastic feature that extends the Mac display over to an iPad, and Universal Control at the same time. For example, if you have two Macs and an iPad, you can use the iPad as the Sidecar display, while still using Universal Control between the two Macs. This makes for a very powerful set of options for how to use iPads and Macs together.

Are you using Universal Control on your Macs and iPads? What do you think of the feature and it’s capabilities? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, Mac OS, Tips & Tricks

5 Comments

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  1. JohnIL says:

    Sounds great, as long as you have the latest OS on all devices. Universal? Hardly. It’s a Apple thing only.

  2. dan uff says:

    Great feature. Thanks for the help!

  3. Harald Jochnick says:

    Great! Much better for transferring data than AirDrop. It was awesome to be able to drag a word from a mail in Outlook on the Mac to a cell in Excel on my Ipad!

  4. David Byrum says:

    You said: On iPad, confirm Universal Control is enabled by going to Settings > General > Cursor and Keyboard is toggled on

    Should be: On iPad, confirm Universal Control is enabled by going to Settings > General > AirPlay & Handoff > Cursor and Keyboard is toggled on

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