Sidecar on Mac and iPad

One of the most impressive new features coming to macOS Catalina and iPadOS 13 this fall is Sidecar. The new feature allows you to extend your Mac display to your iPad. In doing so, you can then use Apple Pencil with your Mac for the first time. In doing so, you can perform everyday tasks like drawing and sketching or marking up screenshots and PDFs.

With Sidecar, you'll be able to use native and third-party macOS apps on your iPad, including Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Photo, ZBrush, and many more.

Apple occasionally offers updates to iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS as closed developer previews or public betas for iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Mac (sadly, no public beta for the Apple Watch). While the betas contain new features, they also contain pre-release bugs that can prevent the normal use of your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac, and are not intended for everyday use on a primary device. That's why we strongly recommend staying away from developer previews unless you need them for software development, and using the public betas with caution. If you depend on your devices, wait for the final release.

Macs that support Sidecar

To use Sidecar, you must have one of the following Macs:

  • iMac 27-inch (Late 2015 or newer)
  • MacPro (2016 or newer)
  • Mac mini (2018)
  • Mac Pro (2019)
  • MacBook Air (2018)
  • MacBook (Early 2016 or newer)

Apple hasn't yet announced an official list; instead this comes from Steve Troughton-Smith who did some sleuthing. An official list of Macs that support Sidecar should arrive when macOS Catalina is released this fall.

How to set up Sidecar on Mac

You must first activate Sidecar on Mac and iPad to use the new tool:

  1. On Mac, click on System Preferences in the Dock.
  2. Click on Sidecar.

    macOS Sidecar

  3. Click on Devices under Connect to.
  4. Select your iPad from the dropdown menu.

    sidecar select iPad

If you don't see your iPad in the list of devices to connect to, try plugging your iPad into your Mac. Keep in mind that Sidecar is intended to work with a direct wired connection or wireless through Bluetooth. It doesn't work with Wi-Fi, meaning your range between the two devices is limited when using the Bluetooth solution. Also, your devices must be logged into the same iCloud account to work.

How to set up Sidecar on iPad

At this time, it appears the only requirements for using Sidecar on iPad is that both devices must be using the same iCloud account, and connected directly or through Bluetooth. There are no additional Sidecar settings on iPad.

Customize Sidecar on Mac

There are different ways you can use Sidecar on Mac. These include deciding whether to use the Sidebar on the left or right and whether to show your Mac Touch Bar on the top or bottom of your Mac, when applicable.

To customize:

  1. On Mac, click on System Preferences in the Dock.
  2. Click on Sidecar.

    macOS Sidecar

  3. Use the check box to turn Show Sidebar on or off.

  4. If Show Sidebar is on, use the toggle to select Left or Right.

    sidecar choose sidebar

  5. Use the check box to turn Show Touch Bar on or off, where applicable.
  6. If Show Touch Bar is on, use the toggle to select Top or Bottom.

    sidecar touch

How to customize Apple Pencil options

There are two settings you can customize for Apple Pencil on Mac:

  1. On Mac, click on System Preferences in the Dock.
  2. Click on Sidecar.

    macOS Sidecar

  3. Use the check box to turn Enable double tap on Apple Pencil on or off.

  4. Use the check box to turn Show pointer when using Apple Pencil on or off.

    sidecar Apple Pencil

Great add-ons for Mac

Your Mac could be even more useful with one of our favorite accessories.

Samsung T5 SSD (From $88 at Amazon)

This solid state drive from Samsung is speedy, tiny, and portable. It also connects using USB-C, making it a perfect companion for your new Mac.

Apple Magic Mouse 2 ($67 at Amazon)

Just connect the Magic Mouse 2 to your Mac by a USB-to-Lightning cable once, and it'll be paired. This rechargeable mouse has a multitouch surface that lets you customize exactly how it works, from what one- and two-finger swipes do to which side works as "left" and "right" click. Available in Silver or Space Gray to match your Mac.

Any questions?

Apple will release iPadOS 13 and macOS Catalina later this year. Until then, there's a chance the way Sidecar works will change during the beta process. If that happens, we'll update this post. In the meantime, let us know if you have any questions about the new Sidecar feature below.

This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.

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