PSA: macOS 12.3 . Universal control and sidecar can be used at the same time

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Before macOS 12.3 and iPadOS 15.4 were released to the public, many beta testers who tried Universal Control were unable to get it to work if they were already using the iPad in sidecar mode, but it turned out that In the final release you can actually enable both. Universal control and sidecar simultaneously on different devices, provided your setup allows for it.

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In the final version of macOS 12.3, the “Add Display” option in the Display preference pane differentiates between devices available to connect via Universal Control and devices available to be used as extended displays, including iPads as sidecars. included through.

This means that you can now, for example, connect your Mac to an iPad via SideCar for some extra macOS screen space, and on the other side of your Mac you can use your main Mac’s keyboard and trackpad. You can control another iPad or Mac by doing this.

Difference Between Universal Control and Sidecar

For those unfamiliar with the two modes and the differences between them, here’s a quick recap. With Universal Controls, if you have a Mac and an iPad next to each other, or even multiple Macs and iPads, you can use the keyboard and cursor on those all-in-one devices. . So, for example, if you have a MacBook Pro and an iPad at your desk, the MacBook Pro’s trackpad can be used on the iPad by just swiping up, and the Mac’s keyboard will become the iPad’s input device. The same is true of the iPad if you have a keyboard attached to it.

Sidecar works differently. Announced in 2019 as part of macOS Catalina, SideCar is designed to let you use the iPad as a secondary display for your Mac. Up to an iPad can be used to either mirror content on your Mac’s display or turn it into a secondary display for additional screen real estate in macOS.

To be clear, Universal Controls lets you use your Mac’s keyboard and trackpad to navigate your iPad, but it works on two different operating systems — macOS and iPadOS. Unlike SideCar, it doesn’t extend your Mac’s display to the iPad, it just allows one device’s keyboard and mouse/trackpad to be used to control one or more other devices. You’ll need to use SideCar if you want to display the contents of your Mac on a nearby iPad, but you can’t control the same device with Universal Controls.

However, all that said, provided you have enough iPads and Macs, it turns out you can actually use Sidecar and Universal Controls at the same time and enjoy the best of both worlds. Note that Universal Control is still technically in beta, so some setups can throw lingering bugs.

For more information on how to set up an iPad in Sidecar, be sure to check out our dedicated how-to article, Controlling Additional Macs and/or iPads Using Universal Controls.