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How to set up Universal Control between your Mac and iPad?

By Sanuj Bhatia March 15, 2022, 5:00 am
Universal Control devices on MacOS and iPadOS

With the release of iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3 yesterday, Apple finally shipped the highly requested Universal Control feature. Wondering what is Universal Control, what are the requirements for it, or how you can set it up? Well, look no more. Here's everything you need to know about Universal Control between iPad and Mac:

What is Universal Control?

Apple first announced the Universal Control feature at WWDC 2021. The feature, however, didn't make it to the public release until the release of iPadOS 15.4 and macOS 12.3 Monterey. Apple still says the feature is available in 'Public Beta' and you may face a few hiccups here and there, but at least it's here.


What Universal Control does is that it allows you to use your Mac and iPad device pretty seamlessly. You can use the cursor and keyboard of your Mac to control the iPad and even other Mac devices without the need to attach physical cables. Yes, the feature sounds very similar to SideCar, but it's different. SideCar allows you to use your iPad as an external display for your Mac. Universal Control, on the other hand, allows you to use your iPad as it is.

Universal Control lets you control the iPad with the cursor, type on your iPad with your Mac's keyboard, and even drag-and-drop files in between the two devices. It even supports trackpad gestures and keyboard shortcuts.

Universal Control on macOS Monterey lets users work with a single mouse and keyboard and move between Mac and iPad. If you set your iPad next to the Mac, and as you drag your mouse cursor to the direction of the iPad, you get the option to control the iPad with that same peripheral, which means you no longer require extra accessories for your iPad to get productive work done.

It's 2022, and Apple knows how powerful and useful the iPad has become. With Universal Control, it's trying to convince you to start integrating the iPad into your workflow. Here's a video of Apple SVP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, demoing Universal Control at WWDC 2021:

Is your Mac and iPad compatible with Universal Control?

Now that you know how seamlessly your iPad and Mac can work, you need to make sure that your Mac and iPad are compatible with it. Here's the list of iPad and Mac devices that officially support the Universal Control feature:

  • MacBook Pro (2016 and later)
  • MacBook (2016 and later)
  • MacBook Air (2018 and later)
  • iMac (2017 and later)
  • ‌iMac‌ (27-inch, Late 2015)
  • iMac (2017 and later)
  • ‌iMac‌ Pro
  • Mac mini (2018 and later)
  • Mac Pro (2019)
  • Mac Studio (2022)
  • iPad Pro (2015 and later)
  • iPad Air (3rd gen and later)
  • ‌iPad‌ (6th gen and later)
  • iPad mini (5th gen and later)

What else do you need to make Universal Control work?

Universal Control lets you use the same keyboard and mouse for Mac and iPad

Once you make sure that your Mac and iPad are compatible with Universal Control, there are a few other things that you need to keep in mind before you start setting it up:

  1. You should be signed into the same iCloud account on Mac and iPad.
  2. You need to ensure that two-factor authentication (2FA) is enabled on your iCloud account.
  3. Features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Handoff should be enabled on both iPad and Mac devices.
  4. Make sure both the devices are running on the latest software (iPadOS 15.4 and macOS 12.3 minimum).
  5. Your iPad and Mac should be within 30 feet of each other.
  6. You can also use Universal Control using a physical cable. To activate, connect your Mac and iPad using a USB cable.
  7. The feature doesn't work between two iPads. You need at least one Mac to use universal Control.

How to set up Universal Control between Mac and iPad?

By default, Universal Control should work automatically between your Mac and iPad. However, if for some reason it doesn't work, here are the things that you need to make sure are properly set up:

Set up Universal Control on Mac

First up, on your Mac, enable Universal Control using these steps:

  1. Click the Apple icon on the top left () and then select System Preferences.
mac universal control set up Source: Pocketnow
  1. In the System Preferences, select Display → Universal Control.
  1. Check all three boxes: "Allow your cursor and keyboard to move between any nearby Mac or iPad," "Push through the edge of a display to connect a nearby Mac or iPad," and "Automatically reconnect to any nearby Mac or iPad."
  2. Select Done and now the Universal Control is set up on your Mac.

Set up Universal Control on iPad

After you're done with the Mac, make sure these settings are enabled on your iPad for Universal Control to work:

  1. Open Settings → General → AirPlay & Handoff.
iPad Universal Control Source: Pocketnow
  1. Under AirPlay & Handoff, enable Handoff and Cursor and Keyboard (Beta) toggle.
iPad Universal Control Source: Pocketnow
  1. That's it. Universal Control is now enabled on your iPad.

Once the setup is complete, you can start using Universal Control feature on your iPad and Mac. Just move the cursor from your Mac towards the iPad, and boom, you'll see the cursor appear on your iPad. Now you can start typing, scrolling, and doing everything you would using a keyboard and a trackpad on an iPad.

One thing to note is that your iPad and Mac might not connect automatically once you disconnect them after using Universal Control. If you want the two devices to connect automatically, enable the "Automatically reconnect to any nearby Mac or iPad" in the Settings app on iPad.

What are your thoughts on Universal Control? Do you see Universal Control making your workflow better? Share your thoughts in the comments section down below!


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