Why Sidecar on iPad is a great stopgap for me before I buy a second monitor

Sidecar on Mac and iPad
(Image credit: Future)

I’ve wanted a second display for a while now to help with productivity when working from home, but it wasn’t until this week that I finally decided to give Sidecar a try -  and I’m so glad I did.

I first tried Sidecar when it launched in 2019 as part of iPadOS 13, it was an intuitive way to use my iPad alongside my Mac. But after a couple of days, the novelty wore off, and I didn’t use Sidecar again - until now, almost four years later.

Last week, I decided that I couldn’t wait for a second monitor any longer, and I needed to make do with the tools at my disposal. After all, I have an M2 11-inch iPad Pro that constantly stares at me from the side of my desk.

Sidecar allows you to use your iPad as a second display for your Mac and, despite being a much smaller display than a second monitor would be, greatly enhances the productivity of your desk setup.

I turned on my iPad and went into the settings on my Mac to set everything up easily. Within seconds, my iPad was now a fully-fledged second display, and the overwhelming amount of application windows on my Samsung monitor was now manageable.

I mostly use Sidecar for one app at a time. I think, due to the size of my iPad’s screen, it copes best with full-screen applications like Slack, my calendar, or Gmail. It may not be useful for everyone, but for those that want a second display for specific use cases, Sidecar works a treat.

Surprisingly, the battery of my iPad Pro seems to cope just fine with a full workday using Sidecar. I didn’t even need to plug the device in to charge once throughout the course of an 8-hour workday where the iPad screen was never off. I was genuinely surprised by how good this four-year-old feature is, and I’m now contemplating whether I need another display at all.

Sidecar is totally underrated

After using Sidecar for a week, I’ve come to appreciate how good Apple’s ecosystem really is. One of my favorite things about owning an iPhone, an iPad, and a Mac is how surprisingly well everything integrates, from Universal Clipboard to my files stored on iCloud. Now that I’ve realized how good Sidecar is, the ecosystem has surprised me yet again.

I’m actually shocked we don’t see more people using Sidecar, especially out and about when working from a laptop in a café, for example. It’s too easy not to use, so I’ve come to the conclusion that it must be that people don’t even know it exists anymore. Between Sidecar, Stage Manager, and Universal Control, it all gets very confusing to the point where your average person probably doesn’t even know the name of the feature they are currently using.

If you want a second display for your Mac or even a second display for the times you work away from your desk, there is no reason not to try this unloved, underrated Mac and iPad unison that reminds you why you use Apple products in the first place. I love Sidecar, and I’ll love it even more if it saves me a couple of hundred dollars by not forking out on that display I’ve been pondering over for the last few months.

Some of the best iPad deals on the market make the cost of the tablet cheaper than the cost of a second display. By buying an iPad, you not only get access to Sidecar but also all the features that make an iPad one of the best pieces of technology available today.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.