Sidecar: Bring your iPad along for the ride

Is your digital workspace feeling cluttered? Need some more room to work with? If you’re working within the Apple ecosystem, the native app Sidecar may be just what you need.

Sidecar was released with MacOS Catalina back in 2019 and essentially allows you to use your iPad as a second, external display for your MacBook. There are some limitations, as it only works on MacBooks released after 2016 and the more recent versions of the iPad. But assuming that you have two devices that meet the system requirements, Sidecar is a breeze to get set up and a really useful feature.

Set up is really simple. If you’re using two compatible devices and have bluetooth and WiFi enabled on both, then you can set up Sidecar using the airdrop system on your MacBook. It’s as simple as streaming to an Apple TV. You can also link up the devices using a USB-C cable.

Once you have that set up, you can do some limited customization on how the Sidecar interface displays on your iPad. Then you’re all set with your secondary display. Alternatively, you can select any program on your MacBook and click “Move to iPad” and it will launch Sidecar and send the program over. This even works if the iPad is turned off. It’s really user friendly.

There is surprisingly little lag. It isn’t entirely seamless, especially if you use the wireless setup instead of connecting via USB-C. But generally, Sidecar has only a minimal impact on performance and runs very smoothly. The wireless feature has a range of around 30 feet, allowing you to connect up to pick up your iPad and keep working from a separate room.

Sidecar doesn’t work exactly like MacOS on the iPad. It’s close, but not quite. For instance, you are unable to take full advantage of the iPad’s touchscreen. You can use it for such shortcuts as swiping to copy and paste or undo and redo actions. To take full advantage of Sidecar, you need the Apple Pencil stylus. This functions exactly as you would expect. Sidecar even comes with a built in Touchbar feature, even if you connect it with a MacBook that lacks that feature.

Overall, Sidecar is a handy feature. It makes the process of writing, editing photos or video, or just browsing the internet a lot more clutter free and productive.

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