Universal Control: Everything you need to know

Universal Control
Universal Control (Image credit: Apple)

At the Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2021, Apple introduced Universal Control and the rest of macOS Monterey. The latter was released to Mac users in the fall. However, we're still waiting for Universal Control, which Apple says will be "available this spring." Here's more about the feature and the latest on its eventual arrival.

What is Universal Control?

When implemented, Universal Control will make it possible to use a single keyboard, mouse, and trackpad with your Mac and iPad — as long as they're side-by-side. By doing so, you can move "your cursor from your Mac to your iPad, type on your Mac and watch the words show up on your iPad, or even drag and drop content from one Mac to another."

What do you need for Universal Control?

To use Universal Control (UC), you'll need a supported version of the latest iPadOS (whichever is available at the time of UC's release) and macOS Monterey installed on your iPad and best Mac, respectively. Apple promises these will be available sometime in Spring 2022. With the supported software installed, Universal Control will work with no additional user set-up. Perhaps better still, it will work with multiple devices and combinations.

Both devices must be signed into the same Apple ID in iCloud and use two-factor authentication. To use Universal Control wirelessly on the supported devices, they must have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Handoff turned on and be within 10 meters (30 feet) of each other. iPad and Mac must not be sharing a cellular and internet connection. To use over USB, you must trust your Mac on the iPad.

Universal Control works on Apple silicon and Intel-based Macs.

Supported devices include:

  • MacBook Pro (2016 and later), MacBook (2016 and later), and MacBook Air (2018 and later); iMac (2017 and later), iMac (5K Retina 27-inch, Late 2015), iMac Pro, Mac mini (2018 and later), and Mac Pro (2019); and iPad Pro and iPad Air (3rd generation and later).
  • iPad (6th generation and later) and iPad mini (5th generation and later).

Where Universal Control doesn't work

There are different combinations of devices where Universal Control isn't available.

These include:

  • iPad to iPad: Universal Control requires a Mac, so there's no way to use it across two or more iPads.
  • iPhone: To date, Apple hasn't offered Universal Control on iPhone. Whether this changes in the future isn't known.
  • Android and Windows: Nope, Universal Control isn't going to work on your friend's Windows computer or Android-based tablet.
  • Apple Pencil: You cannot currently move your Apple Pencil to your Mac using Universal Control.

The latest news

On January 27, 2022, Apple introduced the first macOS 12.3 and iPadOS 15.4 betas to developers. Soon after, Apple released new macOS and iPadOS public betas. These updates finally have Universal Control in place so if you sign up to download the public betas you can access this feature. This means the wider, general public will almost certainly get their hands on the new feature in the coming weeks, perhaps months. Stay tuned!

Updated February 2022: Includes new information, links.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.