What Is Universal Control In macOS Monterey? How Does It Work?

BY Sanuj Bhatia

Published 8 Jul 2021

Universal control on mac and ipad

Until iPadOS becomes a full-grown operating system that is able to replace your laptop, Apple has introduced a new feature for Mac with macOS Monterey that enables you to use your iPad as an extension of your Mac. Called Universal Control, the feature encourages you to (at least) start incorporating the iPad into your workflow. In this article, we explain what Universal Control is and how you can use the keyboard and mouse of your Mac to control your iPad.

iPadOS 15 brings a lot of features to the table. With features like NTFS support and the new multitasking menu, it’s starting to look like a device can do more than just stream media content. Apple has already added keyboard and mouse support to the iPad, and it can already act as a second screen for your Mac via SideCar. The new feature called Universal Control aims to fill the last hole left.

What Is Universal Control in macOS Monterey? How Does It Work?

Universal Control allows you to use your Mac’s keyboard and mouse on another Mac or an iPad. You drag the cursor (horizontally) from your Mac’s screen towards your iPad’s screen, and the Mac’s cursor appears on the iPad. After a little bit of calibration, you can start using the trackpad of your Mac to control the iPad.

You can even use keyboard shortcuts on your iPad and even drag and drop files in between the devices. For now, any app that supports Handoff, works with Universal Control for sharing files, though developers can integrate it into their apps separately as well. Check out Craig’s demo of the feature down below.

How Do You Set Up Universal Control?

Before setting it up, make sure that you fulfill the following requirements:

  • Your iPad should be running iPadOS 15 or later. Similarly, make sure that your Mac is running macOS Monterey or later.
  • Continuity and Handoff are enabled on both your Mac and your iPad.
  • Both the devices are signed in with the same iCloud account.
  • Bluetooth is turned on both of your devices.

Setting up Universal Control is pretty easy. Make sure the devices are placed close to each other. Then, just drag your Mac’s cursor towards your iPad. A grey animated bar should appear on your iPad. Let the calibration complete. Once the calibration is complete, a circle cursor would appear on your iPad’s screen. You can now start using your Mac’s keyboard and mouse on your iPad.

When the mouse is on the iPad screen, both it and the keyboard of your Mac control the iPad. Move it back to control the Mac.

universal control

Which Macs and iPad Support Universal Control?

For Universal Control to work, you need a Mac running macOS Monterey or later and an iPad running iPadOS 15 or later. So, naturally, all the iPads and Mac that support the latest operating system can take advantage of the feature.

Check out the list of all iPads that are compatible with iPadOS 15 and the list of all Macs that are compatible with the latest macOS 12 Monterey.

Does Universal Control Work With iPhone?

No, Universal Control is available only on macOS Monterey and iPadOS 15. It is not available on iPhones.

How Does Universal Control Know Your iPad Is on the Left or Right Side of Your Mac?

When you drag your cursor towards the edge of your Mac’s screen, your Mac thinks that you’re trying to take the cursor from your Mac to your iPad. At this moment, Bluetooth modules of both your Mac and iPad connect, and both the operating systems align the cursors according to one another.

The fact that it doesn’t require a UWB chip or any other fancy technology to work is mind-blowing. Apple has designed the system to make both your Mac and iPad act like one machine by just using the technologies available. The company is leveraging all the work that it has done for AirDrop and Sidecar and further building on that with Universal Control.

Can You Set a Default Device for Universal Control?

Yes. When you have more than one Mac or more than one iPad, you’ll get an option to link the devices you use the most. Apple is still working on refining Universal Control, so the option isn’t available as of now. But once the stable version of the macOS Monterey and iPadOS 15 ships, you’ll find a dedicated setting for this in the System Preferences.

Can You Use Universal Control Between Two Macs? How Many Devices Does It support?

Yes, you can use two Macs to use Universal Control. However, it isn’t known if the functionality would be available on more than two Macs or not. Apple says that you can connect up to three devices at a time, out of which at least one should be an iPad.

When Will Universal Control be Available?

Universal Control will be available with iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey this fall. The feature isn’t available in the beta versions of both the operating system. However, we expect the feature to be available with the second public iOS 15 beta, which should land sometime next week.

Are you looking forward to using Universal Control on your Mac and iPad? How would this feature fit into your workflow? Let us know in the comments section below!