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Sidecar Mac: Use Your iPad as a Second Screen

Sidecar Mac: Use Your iPad as a Second Screen

With an increasing number of devices that we are surrounding ourselves with, the idea of integrating and using the devices together is incredibly important. 

This is understandable as any parent would want all of their children to get along as well. As technological parents, we should learn how to best harness the powers of our respective devices so that all of our children can play together nicely.

Beyond that totally awesome metaphor, integration can also increase efficiency in the workplace. It is becoming more and more common to find two-screen users in the heart of Silicon Valley in the Bay Area. Why? More space for data spreadsheets, less clutter, and several other factors help some workers get more done with a two-screen setup.

This is not without push-back, however. There are still some that find that their efficiency increases with a single-screen setup when compared to their two-screen coworkers. They claim that being forced to keep their workspace clean because of a lack of excess space increases productivity. It keeps things more orderly on their screen and in their mind. 

So keep scrolling on that trackpad to learn more about how to enable this function and why you might want to use this Mac display feature.

System Preferences: Find Out if This Is For You

Historically, the dual-screen approach has had a few limitations. Namely, it was only possible from monitor-to-monitor integration, meaning other OS-operating screens could not be used as a second screen. The OSs would not play nice with one another. On top of this, this integration was not picked up by Apple until much later in the game. 

Still, with advancements in technologies and people calling out for what they want, these issues are beginning to come around to where we can integrate more things.

Finally, Apple has joined the game. We will show you how to use one of Apple’s most powerful devices––the iPad––as a sidecar to your iMac or MacBook. 

How To Integrate

Firstly, we will go over how to physically integrate your iPad to be used as a second screen. We will touch on the basics and fundamentals before we get into all the fun tips and tricks that you can do with it once it is integrated.

Sidecar Compatibility: What Models Can Be Integrated

Because of Apple’s late entry and general unwillingness to create fully compatible devices from year to year, only certain iPads, iMacs, and MacBooks can utilize the sidecar function. While this can be frustrating, the list is actually a bit longer than you might expect, so look for your model of iPad if you do not already know, and see if it can sidecar like a champ.

The defining factor for whether or not your iPad can access sidecar functionality is whether it can run iOS 13 or Catalina. Catalina allows the use of the Apple Pencil, which is necessary for using sidecar, as we will discuss a little later.

Below are the types of iPads that can run Catalina and, therefore, can use the sidecar function:

  • iPad Pro (All models)
  • iPad (6th generation or later)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation and 4th generation)

Not only are there limitations with what iPads even have the functionality to run the sidecar programming, but there are also limitations as to what iMacs or MacBooks are able to host the client. Non-Apple products are not able to host the client. 

The following iMacs are able to host the sidecar program:

  • Late 2015 iMac or newer
  • Late 2018 Mac mini or newer
  • 2019 Mac Pro
  • 2017 iMac

Following suit, these MacBooks are compatible with the sidecar programming:

  • Mid-2016 MacBook Pro or newer
  • Late 2018 MacBook Air or newer
  • Early 2016 MacBook or newer

As frustrating as it may be, if your devices do not fall on this list, they do not have the capability. However, if both your iPad and hosting device falls on these lists, let’s get to clicking those buttons to integrate your iPad to run sidecar for whatever you need it for.

Getting Integrated Wirelessly

The first thing that you should try is to wirelessly connect your iPad to your iMac or MacBook. The easiest way to do this is to go to your AirPlay menu toward the top of your Mac screen (it looks like a screen with an arrow coming through the bottom).

The iPad should pop up on that list. Simply tap on it, and you will activate the programming. You must have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Handoff turned on. 

Both wireless and wire displays require signing in to your iCloud account with two-factor authentication. Jot down your Apple ID ahead of time to make this easier. 

Getting Integrated With Wires

If you have a spotty Wi-Fi connection, it may be wiser to get connected with wires instead of wirelessly. It will also cut down on any lag or general latency between the two.

You will need an appropriate cable for what model iPad and Mac you have. There is a chance that you will need an adapter if you do not have matching ports. The two types of ports possible are Lightning or USB-C cable, so assess which you have before trying to connect with a wire. 

In general, the wireless connection is much easier and equally reliable, roughly within 10 feet. If this does not work, the wired connection is available in a pinch. Simply connect them, search for connected devices in your Settings app to find the iPad, and connect to get to work. 

Integrate With Style

Now that you have your iPad and laptop connected and running side-by-side in perfect unison, there is one more thing you need to consider: style. In order to be the envy of everyone at your local coffee shop, look for matching cases.

With Andar, you can match all your electronics together in seamless style with the ultimate protection. Snap The Mav onto your iPad. This minimalist case has a microfiber lining to keep your iPad in pristine condition, and the magnetic snaps allow it to transition from sleep to awake as if the case wasn’t even there. 

Your MacBook was expensive and accidentally dropping it makes your heart stop. A case like The Helm comes with a microfiber lining as well to protect and preserve. 

Despite its sturdiness, this case is lightweight and sleek, with strategic vents to prevent overheating. The Helm comes in four colors for ultimate matching abilities with all your leather cases: your iPad, Apple WatchiPhone, and AirPods.

Control Center: What Can I Do With iPad Sidecar?

There are several advantages to having your iPad function as a second screen. This section will go over the fun tips, tricks, and functions that are available to you while also covering what you cannot do.

From there, it is up to you to decide what is the most effective use of this function for whatever you are trying to do. 

Screen Mirroring

The most common use of a second screen is usually to mirror whatever you are doing. Especially with a wireless function range of around 10 feet, you can hand the iPad to somebody, mirror the screen, and show them something from your Mac. This is useful for spreadsheets, programming, even teaching or tutoring. Screen mirroring has been around for a while, and now the iPad sidecar function has expanded its reach.

This is a very popular feature with Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Photo, and Zbrush for those who love to sketch and design. 

Screen Space Expansion

Another common usage of the dual-screen approach is making more room for you to drag windows, spreadsheets, images, etc., to your iPad to either work there or to clear space on your Mac while still being able to view the window. 

This dual-screen approach is one of the many tips and tricks that many experts recommend. In addition to a list of other helpful items, you can increase efficiency while you are working remotely. A perfect remote setup can make a world of difference. 

What You Cannot Do (Yet)

Even with all of the positive and helpful things you can do with this feature, there are some unfortunate limitations for now. Hopefully, in the future, these limitations will be exceeded, and we will be able to have all the features we want, so here’s to hoping! 

The greatest difficulty with sidecar programming is the fact that it is not designed to be used with touch gestures on your desktop or laptop computer. For example, you cannot use the touchscreen once within the program itself.

If you are looking to get in some swipe and double-tap features, stick to the iPad. This is generally easier with the first and second-generation Apple Pencil.

There are some rumors that Apple will amend this in the future to be able to use touch gestures, but these are just rumors, so for now, we are stuck with it having to be navigated through a mouse or touchpad if you do not have an Apple Pencil. 

iPad SideCar May Be a Helpful Strategy

In order to present something, to clean up cluttered screen space, or simply to work on a project with the Apple Pencil without having to share files, consider using Apple’s iPad Sidecar programming.

It is a newer feature that not all Macs and iPads are able to do, but many can, and it is easy to get hooked up with or without a wire. Andar wants to help make your remote work or office work more efficient, and this may be a good strategy in doing so! 



For Multitaskers, Multiple Monitors Improve Office Efficiency | NY Times 

Discovering Two Screens Aren’t Better Than One | NY Times 

Apple's Sidecar turns your iPad into a Mac monitor, but only these Macs work | The Verge