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How To Use iPad With The Second Screen To Mac

Here’s how to connect the iPad to your computer and use it as a second screen. We are considering both built-in technologies in the spirit of Sidecar and third-party applications from the device to solve the same problems. Let’s start with the method suggested by Apple itself.

What is Sidecar technology?

If you’re using an Apple computer with macOS Catalina or later, the new Sidecar technology is available to you. This feature allows you to turn your iPad into an additional display for your computer in just a couple of clicks.

Moreover, you can use the tablet both as a full-fledged screen on which other windows and desktops will be placed and as an additional screen to which the image from the computer monitor is retransmitted.

Sidecar also lets you interact with macOS apps on your tablet. For example, you can use it as a graphics tablet for Photoshop running on your computer. That is, work with full-fledged Adobe products in the most convenient environment using Apple Pencil.

Now let’s move on to setting up Sidecar and other options for using the iPad as a second display.

What devices support Sidecar

Not all gadgets support Sidecar. Several technologies are required for this feature to work correctly. This also applies to new versions of Bluetooth and the presence of a certain processor generation, etc. Therefore, first, you need to make sure that your computer and tablet support Sidecar.

The following computers are supported:

  • MacBook Air (2017 and newer)
  • MacBook Pro (2016 and newer)
  • iMac (2015 and newer)
  • Mac mini (2018 and newer)

It’s easier with the iPad. Any device that supports iPadOS 13 will work.

  • iPad Pro (all generations)
  • iPad (5th generation and newer)
  • iPad mini (4th generation or later)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation or later)

If you have these gadgets, then you can safely skip to the instructions below.

If you have older computers, then don’t be discouraged. Read the Luna Display part of the article. This device has slightly lower system requirements.

How to set up Sidecar via AirPlay

This instruction is for the latest version of macOS. At the time of this writing, this is macOS BigSur. Therefore, the interface of this particular OS will be used.

To enable Sidebar:

  • Click on the Control Center icon.

  • In the context menu that appears, select the “Display” item (clickable if you click not on the slider but the item’s name).

  • Choose your own iPad from the available monitors. For it to appear there, you need both devices to be connected to the same iCloud account. 

Immediately after that, the image from the Mac should appear on the tablet. 

Which window appears on the tablet depends on the user’s choice. For example, you can take one of the Safari iterations and send it to the iPad display. How to do it? It is necessary:

  • Hover over the green circle in the upper left corner of the application window.
  • Wait until the context menu appears under the circle. 
  • In the context menu, select your iPad.

After that, the window will immediately appear on the tablet screen.

How to use the Sidecar interface

Once connected to macOS, the interface on the iPad will change slightly. Two panels appear for operating the system using the touchscreen display. You can remove these panels in macOS Display Preferences. But it is better to leave them as they simplify interaction with the platform as a whole.

Next, let’s see what function each button performs:

  1. This key changes the position of the Dock. Clicking on it moves the favorite positions from the computer screen to the tablet screen. If you click on it again, the Dock will return to the Mac.
  2. Cmd button. This is the same button to the right and left of the space bar. It performs the same function and can be used as a modifier. For example, to open new tabs by pressing Cmd + T.
  3. Option (or Alt) button. Another modifier that works the same as on a computer.
  4. Control button. The same as Ctrl on Apple computers.
  5. Shift key. It can be used as a modifier or to capitalize letters.
  6. Cancel the action button. Works like the keyboard shortcut Cmd + Z on macOS.
  7. Keyboard power button. When you click on it, an on-screen keyboard appears to interact with the system from the tablet. In case the computer is far away.
  8. Sidecar exit button. Returns the iOS interface to the screen.
  9. Touch Bar. Imitation of the touchpad, as in the new Apple laptops. This part of the interface changes depending on which application is currently open on the tablet.

Other Sidecar options

Sidecar works similarly to AirPlay. The second display can be positioned in any convenient way. At the same time, its “location” concerning the macOS interface should also be adjusted.

For this you need:

  • Open system settings.
  • Then go to the item “Display”. 

  • Select the “Location” tab.
  • Here you will see how the external screens are positioned concerning your computer. You can move them to any position you want. Just drag them with the mouse to the desired area.

Now you will know exactly where to move the mouse to switch to the external screen.

For example, if the iPad is on the left, the screen should also be placed on the left. Then to switch to iPad, you will need to move the mouse to the left.

Function “Universal control.”

MacOS Monterey and iPadOS 15 add another way to interact with your tablet right from your computer. You don’t even need to configure anything for this. You just need to put the iPad to the left or right of the computer and then move the cursor all the way to the area where the tablet is. At the same moment, a cursor materializes on the iPad screen, with which you can control the iPadOS interface or transfer an object from it to macOS.

This opportunity will be available in the fall of 2021. Supported devices are not yet known. But they should definitely support the most up-to-date versions of operating systems.

Luna Display

Luna Display is not just a program but a whole infrastructure. That is, both the software and the gadget for connecting to the display.

With Luna Display, you can connect your Mac to an iPad and use it as a full-second display with some control restrictions. The same works for Windows as well. That is, you do not need to be the owner of an Apple computer to turn the tablet into an additional screen for work.

Also, some users use the iPad as the only screen for devices like the Mac mini and other computers that do not have their own display.

True, this joy costs almost 135 USD. But it’s still cheaper than buying a macOS laptop.


This is an app for connecting iPad to Mac remotely. Moreover, both by wire and wirelessly. The app is distributed in the App Store and costs only 1200 rubles.


That’s all. As you can see, there are several ways to turn your tablet into a second screen. And each of them is useful in its own way. And in the coming autumn, there will be one more way. We hope this tutorial will help you become more productive and make it easier to complete your daily and work tasks on your Mac and iPad.


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