How to Use Sidecar in macOS Catalina

Sidecar is a great feature that turns your iPad into a secondary display for Mac. Here is how to use it

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macOS Catalina includes Sidecar, a cool feature that allows you to use your iPad as a secondary monitor. Basically, Sidecar can be used both via cable and wirelessly, making your tablet as a mirrored display or a second screen with Apple Pencil support.

Sidecar is now available in the public beta of macOS Catalina and it works smoothly. However, one major drawback is that it may be limited to newer Macs at launch as we could not test it out on an older Mac.

The addition of Sidecar eliminates the need for a third-party app to be installed on your device. Some existing apps like Air Display 3 let you add an extra display for your Mac and use a third-party pressure-sensitive pen to draw or paint into Mac apps.

In this guide, we will show you the steps on how to use Sidecar in macOS Catalina to make your iPad as a secondary display. Note that Sidecar is only available in macOS Catalina and iPadOS, which is currently in the beta stages. If you want to test out the software, make sure you install it on a secondary device.

How to set up Sidecar through AirPlay

Sidecar works seamlessly through AirPlay 2, allowing you to quickly connect to your Mac. The coolest part is that you don’t need to unlock your iPad for Sidecar to work.

Step one: First off, click the AirPlay 2 icon on the menu bar and you should see a list of all available devices.

Step two: Select the iPad you wish to use as a secondary display from the list. Once you do that, you now can use your iPad as a second screen and the AirPlay 2 icon will turn blue.

The coolest part is that you can send an app to Sidecar. To do this, simply move your mouse over the green expansion button at the top bar and then select Move to your iPad from the drop-down menu. To stop using Sidecar, click the blue rectangle button and hit Disconnect from the pop-up.

What Features Will We Get with Sidebar?

First of all, you should notice that you get two sidebars. The sidebar on the left gives you multiple options, including the ability to toggle your dock from one desktop to another and to enable the iPad’s keyboard. You can also use keyboard shortcuts, which is pretty cool.

To be honest, one of my favorite parts of Sidebar is that I can use an active Touch Bar at the bottom of the Sidebar’s interface. That’s the same experience you already have on your MacBook Pro.

Touch Bar on the iPad is pretty cool

Apple Pencil Support

Apple Pencil is one of the highlights of the iPad lineup. Apple says that Sidebar now supports Apple Pencil, meaning you now can draw or take notes within your Mac’s apps. To be honest, Apple Pencil at this early stage works very smoothly and responsive.

No, you cannot close that window!

One major drawback is the lack of touch support. Indeed, this is pretty annoying as I cannot use my finger to close a window. All you need to do is to pick up a Pencil and close an open window, which is exhausting.

Smart Gestures

Sidecar supports some very handy gestures, which allows you to stay more productive. For instance, you can use two fingers and your Apple Pencil to quickly trigger the Brush menu.

Use two fingers and Apple Pencil to bring up the Brush menu

Also, tapping two fingers on the screen undoes your last action

Double-tap using two fingers to undo your last task

In short, smart gestures are really helpful in my daily routine and speeds up my work. However, there are times when they fail to respond, which makes sense considering that this is a beta version.

Sidecar vs Luna Display

Luna Display is one of the most popular options for turning your iPad as a secondary screen for Mac. The app just received a huge performance and interface improvements, making the competition more intense.

Basically, Luna Display gives you more freedom to work on your project. For instance, you can choose between different resolutions to get more screen space, which is something you cannot do with Sidecar.

With Sidecar, you are stuck with the default resolution

However, Sidecar is faster than Luna Display when it comes to drawing and taking notes on your iPad’s screen. This is a crucial point that helps Sidecar surpass Luna Display in the competition.

In short, both Sidecar and Luna Display are great, but I am going for Sidecar considering that this is a free feature that comes in stock with macOS Catalina and iPadOS.

The Verdict

Sidecar is a great feature as it eliminates the need to buy additional software or hardware. The feature is still in beta and it has some flaws, but we expect Apple to add more options to Sidecar at launch.

Got any questions? Let us know in the comments below.

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