How to Use Universal Control for Apple Devices

Use your Mac and iPad seamlessly as one device

What to Know

  • Universal Control lets you share a keyboard and mouse between multiple Apple devices.
  • You can also drag and drop documents, images, and other files between connected devices. 
  • Universal Control works with macOS Monterey and iPadOS 15.

This article explains how to use Universal Control for Apple devices, allowing you to use the same mouse and keyboard across your Mac and iPad.

How to Use Universal Control for Apple Devices

To use Universal Control, you need to have a Mac running macOS Monterey and an iPad running iPadOS 15. The feature isn’t available with earlier versions of either operating system. If you have a compatible Mac and iPad, you can enable Universal Control by adjusting settings on both.

The Mac and iPad need to be using the same iCloud account. If they’re using different iCloud accounts, Universal Control won’t work. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi also need to be enabled on both devices.

Here’s how to enable and use Universal Control:

  1. On your Mac, click the Apple icon.

    The Apple icon in macOS 15.
  2. Click Preferences.

    System Preferences in macOS 15.
  3. Click General.

    General in System preferences in macOS 15.
  4. Click the Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices box.

    Allow Handoff between with Mac and your iCloud devices in General Settings.

    If this box is already checked, you do not need to click it.

  5. On your iPad, open Settings.

    Settings on an iPad.
  6. Tap General.

    General in iPad settings.
  7. Tap AirPlay & Handoff.

    AirPlay & handoff in iPad General Settings.
  8. Tap the Handoff toggle to turn it on.

    The Handoff toggle in AirPlay & Handoff settings.
  9. Tap the Cursor and Keyboard toggle to turn it on.

    The Cursor and Keyboard toggle in AirPlay & Handoff settings.
  10. Place your iPad near your Mac.

  11. On your Mac, move your mouse pointer to one edge of the screen, and keep moving it in that direction.

  12. A bar will appear on the side of the display, indicating a connection has been established.

  13. Keep moving the mouse in the same direction until it appears on the iPad screen.

  14. When the mouse cursor is present on the iPad screen, your keyboard and mouse will work on the iPad.

  15. To use your mouse and keyboard with your Mac, move the mouse cursor back to the edge of the screen, and keep moving it in that same direction until it appears on your Mac display.

  16. Repeat this process with up to two additional iPads.

    Universal Control can remember up to three iPads, and moving your cursor off the screen on your Mac will automatically move it to whichever iPad you have most recently used.

What Is Universal Control?

Universal Control is a feature built on top of the Continuity and Handoff features present in macOS and iOS for a while. In addition to the existing functionality of those features, Universal Control lets you share a single mouse and keyboard between a Mac and one or more iPads.

You can share the built-in keyboard and touchpad of a MacBook with your iPad, the wireless Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 from your iMac to your iPad, or any other keyboard and mouse combination that’s connected to a compatible Mac.

How Does Universal Control Work on Apple Devices?

Once you’ve enabled Universal Control on your Mac and at least one iPad, moving the iPad into proximity with the Mac will cause the two to connect behind the scenes. At that point, you can move your mouse cursor to one side of the display and keep moving it until it appears on your iPad. It works a lot like moving your mouse between displays if you have multiple monitors, except it’s wireless and automatic.

Once your mouse cursor appears on your iPad, you can also use your Mac’s keyboard with the iPad as well. Then when you’re ready to start using the Mac again, all you have to do is move the mouse cursor to the edge of your iPad display and keep moving it until it appears back on your Mac display. The mouse and keyboard will then return to working with the Mac.

Universal Control is not the same as extending your Mac's display to the iPad using the Sidecar feature. Instead, Universal Control lets you use your existing mouse and keyboard to control the Mac and the iPad.

Dragging and dropping files between devices works the same way, except you have to click and drag a file before moving your mouse to the edge of the screen. Then, when the mouse appears on the other device, you can drop the file, and a copy will appear on the other device.

Universal Control uses proximity to determine connectivity, and you can have multiple devices connected. When you have multiple devices set up to use Universal Control, it will move your cursor to the device you used most recently. So if you have multiple iPads connected to the same Mac through Universal Control, you can choose which one to send your mouse cursor to by waking it up or tapping the touch screen before moving your mouse.

FAQ
  • Can an iPad be used as a universal remote control?

    Switch Control is an Apple accessibility option that works with Apple devices synced with the same iCloud account as well as third-party assistive devices. To access Switch Control, go to Settings > Accessibility > Switch Control.

  • How do you enable Universal Clipboard for Mac and iPad?

    You can use Universal Clipboard to copy and paste between Apple devices, including Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Each device must be signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID and have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Handoff turned on. When you copy content, it will automatically be added to the clipboard of your other nearby device and remains there briefly.

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