How to Use iPad as External Display with Mac Using Sidecar

Depending on your use case, an iPad is actually a great device to have for content consumption or for working on the go. However, an iPad is also a great device to use as a secondary monitor for your Mac, especially when traveling.

This might not seem like a big deal but once you start using an iPad as a secondary display for your Mac, there’s no going back. While there have been plenty of third-party solutions that allow one to use their iPad or iPad Pro as an external display, they are slightly complex and require the iPad and Mac to have a wired connection.

With macOS Catalina and iPadOS 13, Apple has made the entire process of using your iPad as an external display with your Mac extremely easy. It calls this feature Sidecar and it works wirelessly which makes it extremely convenient, though you can pair the device over a wired connection as well. The process is so straightforward that if your Mac and iPad meet all the requirements, you can use your iPad as an external display in just two simple clicks!

Sidecar Compatible iPads and Macs

To use your iPad as an external display with your Mac, you must have the following iPads:

  • All iPad Pro models
  • iPad 6th gen
  • iPad mini
  • iPad Air 3

Apart from a compatible iPad, you also need to own a compatible Mac:

  • MacBook Pro, 2016 or newer
  • MacBook, 2016 or newer
  • MacBook Air, 2018 or later
  • iMac, 2017 or newer
  • Retina iMac 5K, 2015 or newer
  • Mac mini, 2018 or later
  • Mac Pro, 2019 or later

Using iPad as External Display with Mac: Things to Know

  • If you want to use your iPad as an external display with your Mac wirelessly, you need to make sure they are on the same Wi-Fi connection and within 30ft of each other.
  • The same iCloud account must be used on both devices.
  • You can connect your iPad via USB with your Mac as well. Just make sure to trust the Mac on your iPad for the feature to work.

How to Use iPad as External Display Using Sidecar With Your Mac

Step 1: If the iPad and the Mac are on the same Wi-Fi network and within 10 meters of each other, you will automatically see an AirPlay icon in the menu bar of your Mac on the top-right.

Step 2: Click on it and from the Connect To sub-menu, select your iPad. The AirPlay icon will turn blue in the menu bar indicating that your iPad is now working as a secondary display.
Using iPad as External Display with Mac

If your iPad is not compatible or if there is any network issue, your device might not show up. In such a scenario, you can try restarting your iPad or ensure that there is no network conflict.

You can find more Sidecar related options under System Preferences -> Sidecar.
Mac iPad Sidecar

Step 3: By default, your iPad’s display will act as a secondary monitor for your Mac. You can move windows to it and use it just like any other external display.

Step 4: If you want, you can also mirror your Mac’s display to your iPad. Click on the AirPlay icon in the menu bar and select the mirroring option. You will also find the option of showing Sidecar and Touchbar related options on the iPad’s screen.

The good thing about Sidecar is that you have access to all gestures of the iPad in this mode as well. This includes the ability to scroll by swiping with two fingers, copy by pinching in with three fingers, etc.

Using Apple Pencil with iPad As External Display

The good thing about using the iPad as an external display with Sidecar is that you can use the Apple Pencil for selected tasks like drawing, editing photos, manipulating documents and photos, and more.

So, if you use Photoshop or any other image-editing app extensively, you can move the app to the iPad and then use the Apple Pencil for editing it.

You can also use all the regular apps on your iPad while it is in Sidecar mode. You will obviously have to exit the Sidecar mode but once you are done using that app, you can jump right back into Sidecar by tapping its shortcut on the home screen. This shortcut only shows up when the Sidecar mode is activated.

As I mentioned before, while the ability to use an iPad as an external display with a Mac has existed long before iPadOS and macOS Catalina, it is how Apple has executed the Sidecar feature that will make this use case go mainstream.

Have you ever used your iPad as an external display with your Mac using? If so, how was your experience? Drop a comment below and let us know!

Simon A.
Steve Smith loves to help people online and that's why loves to write about topics that are currently trending or important. Follow him.

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