How to Use iPad as Second Display


credit Apple Inc.

While traveling with my MacBook Pro and trying to get some work done this past week, I missed having the large external display in my office. Sitting in the hotel room, with my aging eyes, I needed more space to see various windows.

Then, I remembered my iPad Pro was sitting in my backpack and recalled a way to use it as an external monitor. Sidecar is a feature that allows you to use your iPad as a display that extends or mirrors your Mac desktop.

Why would you want to do this or how can the Sidecar feature help in other ways?

Maybe you want to do a presentation at a table or other area. You can use the iPad as an external monitor to have others see the slideshow you are presenting from your Mac. You can even mirror what you are doing on your display to show others what or how to do something on your Mac.

Here’s what you need to do to use the feature wirelessly or wired via a USB cable.

Make sure your Mac and iPad meet the sidecar system requirements. (Basically, newer computers, operating system and iPadOS as explained in the article referenced below.)

Then, make sure the following steps are taken.

  • Both devices signed into iCloud with the same Apple ID using two-factor authentication;
  • If using wirelessly, both devices must be within about 10 meters or 30 feet of each other and have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Handoff turned on. (Make sure the iPad and Mac are not sharing cellular connections with other devices).
  • If using a USB, make sure that your iPad is set to trust your Mac. Basically, when you connect the iPad to your Mac, you may get a popup asking whether you want to trust the Mac. Tap trust and enter your iPad login information to confirm.

Next, on your Mac, depending on which version of MacOs you are running, do the following:

MacBig Sur or later, click on Control Center at the top right and then choose your iPad from the menu.

macOS Control Center Display options with Connect To: iPad selected
credit Apple Inc.

If using macOS Catalina, click the AirPlay icon in the menu bar, then choose your iPad from the menu.

Another option that may work is to go to System Preferences > Displays > Add Display on your Mac and select your iPad.

Once this is successfully done, your iPad appears as an external display and extends your Mac’s display like any other monitor to provide you with more screen real estate. Because it is an iPad, its not like just any other external monitor as discussed below.

You can adjust which “side” your iPad appears on by using Displays in System Preferences. You can drag the iPad screen image from the left or right side so that your cursor naturally travels in the same direction from your computer screen to the extended iPad screen. Using the above image as an example, you could drag the iPad image on the left to the right side of the display that appears. This would be appropriate and feel better if your iPad was physically sitting to the right of your computer.

To learn more about the extended features and benefits of adding an iPad as an external display and the availability of gestures, the use of an Apple Pencil and ways to change settings, read this Apple article.

The next time you need a little more screen space or want to do a presentation from your Mac to an iPad, try using Sidecar to improve your workflow and convey your ideas.

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