Step-by-step Guide to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor for Your MacBook

The world is increasingly mobile, and we’re often on the go with our digital devices in tow. Whether you’re a digital nomad, a student, or just someone who appreciates the value of multitasking, you might be interested in learning how to use your iPad as a second screen for your MacBook.

Apple’s continuous innovations in technology have brought us a feature that can exponentially increase productivity and ease of work. If you own both a MacBook and an iPad, you can now use your iPad as a second monitor for your MacBook. This easy-to-use feature, called Sidecar, requires no additional software and can be set up in a couple of clicks.

This guide will walk you through how can you use iPad as a second monitor for your MacBook using a feature called Sidecar.

A Short Introduction to the SideCar

Apple’s Sidecar is a feature introduced in macOS Catalina (10.15) and iOS 13 that allows users to extend their Mac’s display to their iPad, effectively turning the iPad into a secondary monitor. This powerful tool not only provides extra screen real estate but also offers capabilities that make it an integral part of the Apple ecosystem.

Key features and capabilities of Sidecar include:

  1. Extended Desktop: This is the primary feature of Sidecar. It allows users to extend their desktop across their Mac and iPad. You can drag windows, open applications, and even full-screen apps onto the iPad’s display, effectively giving you more workspace.
  2. Mirror Display: If you’re presenting something and want your iPad to show exactly what’s on your Mac’s display, you can use the mirror display function.
  3. Apple Pencil Support: Sidecar allows you to use your Apple Pencil on your iPad when it’s acting as a second display. This is particularly useful for tasks that require more precision, like photo editing or graphic design. You can draw directly into Mac apps that support stylus input.
  4. Touch Bar: If your Mac doesn’t have a Touch Bar, Sidecar adds a virtual one to the bottom of your iPad. It works just like a physical Touch Bar, and it changes based on the active application on your Mac.
  5. Sidebar: A sidebar on your iPad provides controls for the Mac, such as Command, Shift, and other modifier keys. This is useful when you’re using your Apple Pencil and you need to use keyboard shortcuts.
  6. Gesture Support: Sidecar supports multi-touch gestures, so you can interact with your Mac using familiar iPad gestures.
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Pre-Requisites to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor for Your MacBook:

This easy-to-use feature, called Sidecar, requires no additional software. You need to ensure that you meet the following prerequisites:

  1. A compatible MacBook running macOS Catalina (10.15) or later.
  2. A compatible iPad running iPadOS 13 or later.
  3. Both devices logged into the same iCloud account and connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  4. A USB-C cable for a wired connection (optional but recommended for a better experience).

That’s It!

Time needed: 5 minutes.

How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor for Your MacBook?

Let’s see how to connect your iPad as a second monitor to your Mac in this section.

  1. Step 1: Connect to the same network

    Connect your iPad and MacBook to the same Wi-Fi network.

    Connect your MacBook to your WiFi network

  2. Step 2: Log in to the same iCloud Account

    Login to both devices to the same iCloud account.

    Login to your MacBook to the same iCloud Account

  3. Step 3: Select iPad from the screen mirroring

    Click on the Control Centre from your MacBook, and Click on the screen mirroring option. You should see your iPad name listed out there. Select the iPad. That’s it.

    If everything is correct. You should see your MacBook’s screen on your iPad.

    Select iPad from the screen mirroring

Two Modes of Screen Sharing on MacBook

Once you connected your iPad as a second monitor to your MacBook, you gonna see two options:

  1. Mirror Built-in Retina Display: Choose this option if you want to create a duplicate second monitor that works like a mirror of your MacBook monitor.
  2. Use As Separate Display: Choose this option if you want to use your iPad as a second monitor that works as an extended display.  This option is good for those who want more screen options and see two different application windows one on their main MacBook screen and the other one on their iPad screen.
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Use As a Separate Display

Mirror Built-in Retina Display

Troubleshooting Tips:

In reality, there is nothing much to troubleshoot.

  1. If your devices don’t connect, check that both devices are updated to the latest OS version, signed into the same iCloud account, and the same network.
  2. If you experience delays or disconnects while using Sidecar wirelessly, consider using a wired connection. A USB-C cable can provide a more reliable, lag-free experience.
  3. If your iPad doesn’t show up in the ‘Screen Mirroring’ box, try restarting both devices. If the problem persists, sign out of your iCloud account on both devices, then sign back in.

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