What is Universal Control Mac and How to Use it?

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Universal Control mac and iPad

You must have heard of the sidecar feature where an iPad works as the second screen for your mac. But this feature is a bit different. The universal control feature is different in the sense that each device operates independently. Today we will explain this in-depth.

Table of Contents

What is the Universal Control Feature?

When we are talking of the sidecar feature, let’s take an example. You have a mac and an iPad. You want a second screen that is your iPad to work as a second scream. What do you do? You use the sidecar feature. Universal control works separately. It is designed to allow users to control multiple Macs and iPads with a single mouse and keyboard. This means you can use both screens by using one mouse. It will put it into a unified system. Also, it has some limited drag-and-drop features.

Now Let’s Clarify this Concept Further

In universal control, you can use two devices that will operate separately. This means two different software can run on the two devices simultaneously. The only difference in the universal control feature from the normal use of two devices is when you use this feature, it allows you to use the same keyboard and mouse with limited drag-and-drop features to operate both devices at the same time.

The feature of universal control is software based on the KVM switch concept. The feature allows you to drag and drop items from one screen to another. But for this, both of the devices need to have this feature compulsorily. When you copy from one screen and paste it on another, it will use the AirDrop technology to complete the process.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Universal Control Feature

A few recalled benefits of the universal control feature is that you really do not next to purchase a big screen in order to fit into the crowd. If you need to run two applications simultaneously. you can turn on the universal control feature and work with it. It reduces your expenses as two small devices work as a big one with the power of both of the devices assimilated. You can also move data easily between your Mac and mobile apps even without purchasing a macOS version of the app.

One disadvantage is while you are working on editing, your iPad can not support heavy software. All the load gets transferred to mac itself. You will have to use heavy software such as video editing programs on your mac rather than your iPad.

Requirements of Universal Control Mac

You basically need the right combination of mac and iPad in order to make this work. It is because both of these two devices you will be using have to compulsorily support the systems.

Below given is the list of macs that supports the universal control feature:

  • MacBook Pro introduced the year 2016 or later
  • MacBook Air that was introduced in the year 2018 or later
  • MacBook introduced in the year 2016 or later
  • MacBook mini introduced in the year 2018 or later
  • iMac introduced in the year 2017 or later
  • iMac pro introduced in the year 2017 or later
  • Macpro introduced in the year 2019 or later.

Given below is the list of iPads that support universal control:

  • iPad Air 3rd generation or later
  • iPad mini 5th generation or later
  • iPad 6th generation or later
  • All models of iPad pro

How to set up Universal Control for the first time

Let us take an example. We are using M1 MacBook Air and a 2018 12.9 inch iPad for this module.

  1. The first thing you need to check is, that you need to sign in to the same iCloud account in order to do the next steps.
  1. When you are signed in, tap on the Apple button at the top left side of your desktop in macOS.
  1. From there, you will have to open System Preferences.
  1. Underneath System Preferences,  tap on Displays.
  1. Next, tap on the Universal Control option.
  1. You will find three boxes that can be ticked.
  • The first one is to be done compulsorily. It is a necessity. The first one will allow your cursor and keyboard to move between both the screens of the devices. Only if they are signed in to the same iCloud account.
  • The second will let you push the cursor of your mouse through the edge of the display screen to move it between the two devices
  • The third one is auto-connect. Though it is optional, we recommend you to tick it.
  1. After you have ticked on the boxes, you can find another option to be tapped on. It is blue and it has written Done on it. Tap on it.
  1. On your iPad, you have to open Settings now. Next, go to the section labeled General.
  1. Next, you will have to tap on AirPlay & Handoff. You have to toggle in both the Handoff Cursor and Keyboard.

You have successfully enabled the universal control feature.

How to use the Universal Control Feature?

In order to start using the feature, very first, try to push your mouse pointer towards the edge of the macOS screen. You will be able to push it to the iPad. If there is a wrong physical arrangement of your devices, this feature won’t work.

Conclusion

The best thing about the universal control feature is once you start using it, you will forget that you are using two or three, or whichever number of devices you are using. You will think that it is one big screen.

Another good thing is, that this is cost-effective. You literally do not have to purchase a system application version for your MacOs if you log in to the iCloud of your iPhone. It cuts down money and saves a lot of it. Plus it is very cool and easy to handle. All you need to do is follow the step given above and read this article properly before conducting any work.

FAQs

How is then a sidecar different from universal control?

Well, the universal control allows both divides to work separately.

Which versions support the universal control feature?

macOS12.3 and iPadOS 15.4

What is a KVM switch?

This switch allows you to connect several devices to a single set of peripherals.

Can I use three devices with universal control?

Three devices are the most number of devices you can use in universal control.

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