How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor with iPadOS Sidecar

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

Want to use your iPad as a monitor for your Mac? No problem, Sidecar has you covered! With macOS Catalina and iPadOS 13, you can use a feature called Sidecar to turn your handy iPad into a second screen. Want to see your iPad mirroring your Mac's display? Not a problem either. Sidecar is easy to set up, and works like a charm. The ability to use an iPad as a second monitor for an iPad dual-screen setup has been possible with the third-party Duet Display app for a while. Now an even better way to do it is available to everyone, built right into the operating systems. Read on to find out how to set up this feature, and what requirements to check for if it doesn’t seem to be working.

Related: iPad Multitasking: The Complete Guide to Split Screen, Slide Over & Picture in Picture

Turn Your iPad into a Second Monitor with iPadOS Sidecar

There are a few things you need to get in order before Sidecar will work. Here's a quick checklist.

  • Your iPad must be one of the following: iPad Pro, iPad (6th gen or later), iPad mini (5th gen), iPad Air (3rd gen). If you're not sure, check our guide.
  • Your iPad must have iPadOS version 13 or higher.
  • Your Mac model must be one of the following: A MacBook Pro, MacBook, or iMac introduced in 2016 or later; A MacBook Air or Mac Mini introduced in 2018 or later; An iMac Pro; or a Mac Pro introduced in 2019 or later.
  • Your Mac must have macOS Catalina.
  • Both your Mac and iPad must be logged in to the same Apple ID.
  • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Handoff must be turned on for both devices.
  • Neither device may be sharing its internet, either through a personal hotspot or an ad-hoc wireless network.
  • The two devices must be within 10 meters of each other. 

Once you've met the requirements, this feature is remarkably easy to use.

  1. Click the AirPlay menu at the top of your Mac’s screen. The menu icon looks like a rectangle with a triangle at the bottom.
  2. Select your iPad's Name from the list of AirPlay options.

  3. Then the iPad will turn into a second monitor!
  4. To set the iPad to mirror your Mac's screen, select Mirror option corresponding to the display you want the iPad to match. For example, this screenshot was taken on a MacBook Pro connected to an LG external monitor. I want the iPad to mirror the smaller laptop display, so I'll select Mirror Built-in Retina Display.

  5. To extend your Mac desktop onto the iPad, select Use As Separate Display.
    To Disconnect, click the AirPlay menu, and then click Disconnect.

Have fun with the extra screen space!

P.S. When an iPad is paired with a Mac using Sidecar, you can use the Apple Pencil as a stylus in Photoshop or any other advanced drawing software. Just run the app on the Mac, then move the app's window onto the iPad screen, and pencil away. Neat huh?

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Author Details

Cullen Thomas's picture

Author Details

Cullen Thomas

Cullen Thomas is a Writer and Producer at iPhone Life, creating tips and guides to help users unlock the full potential of their iOS and iPhone. In addition to writing countless tip-of-the-day articles and many detailed guides, Cullen has spent nine years as an instructor in media and communications at Maharishi University, lecturing on technical and artistic subjects ranging from camera and audio hardware to story-plotting to how to manage a film crew. Cullen answers questions daily about iPhones and iOS as part of the Ask an Editor insider service, and designs curriculum for iPhone Life’s online classes. As a frequent contributor to iPhone Life magazine and occasional guest on the iPhone Life podcast, Cullen likes to talk about security and privacy news, tech, gadgets, and apps, even if nobody asked.

Cullen holds a master’s degree in Cinematic Arts from the David Lynch School of Cinematic Arts. Cullen also holds two Bachelor’s degrees from Maharishi University, one in literature with an emphasis in writing and the other in Communications and Media. Cullen’s short fiction has been featured in anthologies from Amphibian Press and TANSTAAFL, and Cullen co-owns a game design company, Thoughtspike games, which builds thought-provoking puzzle games. Cullen is a sci-fi author, a coffee connoisseur, and an iPhone expert.