Apple’s Universal Control is a feature that allows users to control their Mac and other Apple devices using a single keyboard and mouse. It is designed to make it easy to switch between devices and control multiple devices at once.
Universal control requirements
Universal Control has certain prerequisites before you can use it. To use Universal Control on a Mac and iPad, the following requirements must be met:
- Mac and iPad must be running the latest version of macOS and iPadOS
- Both must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
- Both must be logged into the same iCloud account.
- The Mac and iPad should be close to each other.
- Mac and/or iPad must have a compatible keyboard and mouse or trackpad, such as Magic Keyboard for iPad.
Universal Control is enabled by default and should work automatically if the above conditions are met, but you may want to check that the option is enabled first.
Good to know: Need to update your Mac to use Universal Control? Learn how to update your Mac using a terminal with a few short commands.
How to Check Universal Control is Enabled on macOS
Although enabled by default, you can ensure that Universal Control is enabled manually. You’ll need to do this for your Mac and iPad.
- On your Mac, go to the Apple menu in the upper left corner of the screen and select “System Preferences” or “System Settings” on newer versions of macOS, including macOS Ventura.
- From the left sidebar, select the “Posters” option.
- Select “Advanced” at the bottom of the window.
- Make sure all options under “Link to Mac or iPad” are enabled.
Good to know: Your Mac’s external display isn’t working properly? Be sure to try these 15 fixes for macOS.
How to Check Universal Control Is Enabled on iPadOS
To verify that Universal Control is enabled in iPadOS, follow these steps:
- On your iPad, go to the Settings app and select the “General” option.
- In the general settings, select the “Airplay & Handoff” option.
- Under Transfer Settings, make sure “Forwarding” is selected.
Once Universal Control is enabled on your Mac and iPad, you should be able to use your Mac’s keyboard, mouse, and trackpad on your iPad, provided the other Universal Control requirements mentioned above are met.
Good to know: It’s no secret that Apple products work better together. Learn how to set up your Apple ecosystem by syncing macOS and iOS.
How to use universal control
If you meet all the requirements for Universal Control and have confirmed that the feature has been activated, you can use it immediately.
- Start by simply moving your mouse pointer in macOS to the edge of the screen closest to the iPad. The Mac will infer that you want to move the pointer over the iPad, and you’ll see a pop-up on the edge of the screen.
- Push “through” the edge of the screen and you should see your mouse pointer on the iPad screen. Anything you select will now also respond to keystrokes from your Mac keyboard.
How to Fix Incorrect Universal Control Screen Layout
If Universal Control detects your iPad on the wrong side, you can fix it by following these steps:
- On your Mac, go to the Apple menu in the upper left corner of the screen and select “System Preferences” or “System Settings”.
- In the System window, select the “Display” option.
- Check that the iPad and MacBook are positioned correctly. Otherwise, just select “Arrange”, then drag the thumbnails to represent the correct arrangement.
What can you do with Universal Control?
Apple Universal Control lets you use your Mac’s keyboard, mouse, and trackpad on your iPad. This allows you to seamlessly control both devices at the same time, without having to switch between them.
With Universal Control, you can do things like:
- Browse and use apps on your iPad using your Mac’s keyboard, mouse, and trackpad
- Copy and paste text, images, and files between your Mac and iPad
- Use your Mac keyboard to enter text on your iPad, such as when typing a search query or replying to a message
- Use your Mac’s trackpad to interact with your iPad’s onscreen elements, such as scrolling, clicking, and swiping
- Use your Mac’s keyboard and trackpad to control audio and video playback on your iPad
- Use your Mac’s keyboard and trackpad to control games and other interactive apps on your iPad
This allows you to benefit from the processing power of both devices rather than just using one as your glorified second screen. For example, you can watch YouTube on your iPad while your MacBook is running a creative program, without affecting playback on the tablet.
Good to know: Universal Control is just one way to multitask on both your iPad and Mac. With iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura, learn how to use Stage Manager on Mac and iPad.
How to Return to Sidecar Mode
Sidecar lets your iPad act as a second screen for your Mac by extending or mirroring your Mac’s desktop. To switch from Apple Universal Control to Sidecar on macOS, follow these steps:
- On your Mac, go to the Apple menu in the upper left corner of the screen, then select “System Preferences” or “System Settings”.
- In the System Preferences window, select the “Display” option, then click the drop-down arrow to the right of the display layout diagram.
- Select “Mirror or extend to” and the name of the iPad you want to use as a SideCar display.
Depending on your needs, switching between Universal Control and Sidecar lets you use your Mac and iPad in different ways. Universal Control lets you use your Mac’s input devices on your iPad, while Sidecar lets you use your iPad as a secondary display for your Mac. You can switch between these modes as needed to get the most out of your Mac and iPad.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I control media on my iPad with Universal Control?
Yes, you can use your Mac’s keyboard and trackpad to control audio and video playback on your iPad. This can be handy if you’re watching a movie or TV show on your iPad and want to use your Mac’s keyboard and trackpad to pause, play, or forward.
Can I control my iPad games with my Mac mouse and keyboard?
Yes, you can use your Mac’s keyboard and trackpad or mouse to control supported games and other interactive apps on your iPad. It can be a more intuitive and comfortable way to play games on your iPad, and there are some really great games on iPad and Mac, thanks to Apple Arcade. Now you can play them on either system with a keyboard and mouse.
Can I copy and paste between my Mac and my iPad?
Yes, you can use Universal Control to copy and paste text, images, and files between your Mac and iPad. To do this, simply select the item you want to copy to a device, tap Ordered + VS to copy it, switch to the other device and press Ordered + V to stick it. This can be a handy way to quickly transfer content between your Mac and iPad.
Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sydney Butler.
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