How to Extend your Mac Screen with your iPad

22nd November 2020


11" iPad Pro (2nd Generation)
iPadOS 14

Jacob Woolcock

22nd November 2020

Jacob Woolcock



11" iPad Pro (2nd Generation)
iPadOS 14

nothing to see here!

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In this short tutorial I’ll show you how you set up and use the SideCar feature in macOS Big Sur and iPadOS 14 to link your iPad to your Mac wirelessly. This allows you to use your iPad as a secondary display for your Mac and extend the screen space you have available. You can even use your Apple Pencil to interact with your Mac through the iPad screen!


Here’s a great feature of macOS and iPadOS that allows you to use your iPad as a second screen for your Mac. If you find this video useful, please do subscribe to my channel down below. That will really help me as I grow and share more tips. There are loads of iPhone and iPad tips that you might find helpful there as well.

First, we need to connect the iPad to the Mac. As long as they’re both on the same Wi-Fi network and using the same Apple ID, you can jump straight onto the Mac, go under System Preferences, and then choose Sidecar. From here, there’s a dropdown menu where you pick the device you want to link to. I’m going to choose Jacob’s iPad 11”. It should connect wirelessly and extend your Mac desktop onto your iPad.

You’ll notice straight away there are a couple of checkbox options on the Mac. These will let me change the toolbar and the Touch Bar to either have it on the left and right or the top and bottom of my screen. The toolbar will let you access keyboard commands, such as the Command button, the Alt button, and those sort of things. And the Touch Bar will mimic the Touch Bar on a MacBook Pro depending on what app you’re using.

I’m going to turn off the toolbar but show you how the Touch Bar works now in the Notes app. I’m going to open up Notes on my Mac (so not the iPad version), the Mac version, and I’m going to drag it across onto my iPad – literally off the edge of one display, and it will come up on the other. From here, if I type on my Note, you’ll notice that the Touch Bar has got some commands. These are ones that you get on the MacBook Pro, but you wouldn’t normally get them on an iPad. It just makes it a bit quicker as a touch gesture to interact with that document.

For example, I can turn on tick boxes with one tap. I can use my Apple Pencil to really precisely control the iPad screen, which will then affect the Mac version of Notes. I’m then going to drag that back across to my iMac, and then we’re going to change some other settings. Let’s go ahead and get rid of the Touch Bar completely. I’m not going to use it much today, and it takes up quite a lot of screen real estate, so we’ll tick the checkbox to remove that.

I can now go back into System Preferences on the Mac and go to Displays and Arrangement. This will let me change how the two displays connect to each other. At the moment, I’m dragging things from the left of my display onto the iPad, but I could move the iPad onto the right-hand side of my screen, and then I can drag things off to the right-hand side. I’ll keep mine on the left for now.

The next cool thing about Sidecar is that you can send a window from your Mac to your iPad in just two clicks. So first, you’re going to hover the mouse over the green traffic light button in the top left corner of your window, and then, as long as you’ve got Sidecar connected, you can go down and choose move to iPad. That will then send that screen immediately onto your iPad display without having to drag and drop it across.

From here, you can then make that screen full screen if you want to, or you can move it like a traditional window on your desktop. I’m going to open the Twitter app on my Mac as well. I’m going to make sure that’s on my iPad screen now. I want these two apps side-by-side in split screen, and on a Mac, you press F3 to go into launchpad and then you’d rearrange the windows from there. It works just the same on the iPad using Sidecar.

I’m going to tap F3 on my keyboard, and then I can drag the Twitter window up into the Notes window, and that will combine them both side by side. I can change the size using that middle slider just like you would do on the Mac normally. At this point, as I look to be scrolling Twitter, it’s worth pointing out that you can’t just use one finger to replace the mouse. You can use Apple Pencil to swipe up and down like you would do a mouse cursor, or you can use two fingers in a scroll window to scroll up and down. It’s kind of a hybrid between iPad gestures and Mac laptop gestures – so on a laptop, you’d use two fingers to scroll up and down; you do the same thing using Sidecar in a scroll view.

The other clever thing about Sidecar is that you can swipe up on the iPad to dismiss it like a normal app. In fact, Sidecar runs as a normal app on your iPad. That means in the dock at the bottom, the icon will be there waiting for you. You can go to a different app and then come back to the Sidecar app, and it will

reconnect your Mac instantly.

I’m going to switch back to my desktop on each device, and I’m going to give you one more demo that involves Photoshop. Now, this is a program I use all the time, and it’s always hard getting enough screen real estate to get all the panels and options open. So, I’m going to open up my document on my iMac, and I’m going to drag all of my floating panels onto my iPad screen, so my layers, my colour, my adjustments, my properties – all of those straight onto the iPad screen. All of these panels work exactly as you expect them to. I can use my Apple Pencil to toggle on and off layers to show and hide them, I can change the colour, do whatever I want, and it will affect the Mac because it’s all running the same computer as one big screen.

The other thing I can do, if I really want it to be cool, is I can drag my canvas, my document, onto the iPad as well. I can then choose the Paint Brush tool and using my Apple Pencil, I can then use the Pencil to draw on the screen. The Pencil mimics the mouse cursor, so drawing works just like you expect.

Finally, we can exit Sidecar mode by simply pressing the display button in the top menu bar on either the iPad or the Mac, and then you can untoggle the iPad screen by pressing the blue circle. It’s really simple to do, but it’s worth disconnecting before you turn the iPad off or move your device away because otherwise, you may find you’ve lost your cursor on the iPad, which is no longer connected.

You could also use Sidecar up to about 30 feet away from your Mac, so you can put a document onto your iPad, walk away, and keep working on it. It’s a really, really powerful feature that’s been there for a couple of years but it’s still really underused.

Give Sidecar a go, let me know in the comments how it goes – and make sure you like this video and subscribe to my channel if you found this helpful!


Video Details

This QuickTip video was recorded on an 11" iPad Pro (2nd Generation)
running iPadOS 14.

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