Trying to use your iPad as an additional monitor for your MacBook or other Mac and cannot get Sidecar to show up or work? Finding it challenging to connect your iPad to your Mac using Sidecar? Or seeing other errors when trying to get your Mac to see your iPad such as “unable to connect,” “device timed out,” or “you can’t open the Sidecar preferences pane because it is not available to you at this time?”
If these errors sound familiar, we got you covered with our top tips to get Sidecar working on your Mac and your iPad.
- 1 Quick tips
- 2 A brief bit about Sidecar
- 3 Getting the error “you can’t open “Sidecar” preferences pane because it is not available to you at this time?”
- 4 Seeing unable to connect errors?
- 5 Check how you connect your iPad to your Mac
- 6 Getting poor connection errors?
- 7 Sidecar only working with a wired connection?
- 8 Not seeing Sidecar in System Preferences?
- 9 Is Sidecar not recognizing your touch on your iPad? Only works with Apple Pencil?
- 10 How to use Sidecar on your iPad
- 10.1 Where are my iPad’s Sidecar settings?
- 10.2 How to change which side Sidecar places my iPad?
- 10.3 Want to Mirror your Mac’s screen?
- 10.4 How to send apps to your iPad using Sidecar
- 10.5 Sidecar includes three different ways of interacting with content on your iPad
- 10.6 Yes, you can use your iPad as an iPad even when in Sidecar mode!
- 10.7 Want to use Sidecar without your Apple ID and iCloud?
- 10.8 Does SideCar support multiple iPad displays?
- 10.9 How to disconnect your iPad from Sidecar and your Mac
- 11 Wrap up
- 12 Reader tips
Follow these quick tips to get Sidecar working on your iPad and Mac using iPadOS and macOS Catalina+
- Make sure iPadOS and macOS are on the latest versions available–Sidecar requires iPadOS (iOS13) and macOS Catalina+
- Check that you are logged into the same AppleID/iCloud account on both your iPad and Mac AND have two-factor authentication enabled
- Type in Sidecar using your Mac’s spotlight search
- For problems connecting wirelessly or timing out, plug your iPad into your Mac using a Made For iPad (MFI) cable and then open Sidecar from your Mac’s System Preferences
- For wireless connections, make sure both devices connect to the same WiFi network and that the signal is strong and stable
- Sign out of your Apple ID/ iCloud on both devices (iPad and Mac), restart both and then sign in to the same Apple ID on both, then reboot again–after that try using Sidecar
- Make sure your Mac and your iPad are compatible with Sidecar
- For older and unsupported Mac, you can try to force compatibility with your Mac using macOS Terminal app (for Catalina and above)–this may or may not work for your Mac
- How to enable Sidecar on incompatible Macs in Catalina
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A brief bit about Sidecar
Sidecar is Apple’s latest addition to its Continuity portfolio–features designed to create a seamless experience between all types of Apple devices, from Macs to iPhones, iPods, and iPhones. Sidecar is for iPads and Macs only and is supported by iPadOS and macOS Catalina+.
Extend your Mac’s screen to your iPad
With Sidecar, folks that own iPads and Macs can now extend their Mac’s display to their iPad. Sidecar allows you to work with multiple apps on different screens, just like any other second monitor. And if desired, you can mirror the screens so both your iPad and your Mac show the same content, for easy sharing with others.
Sidecar even supports Apple Pencil, so when you pair your iPad with an Apple Pencil, you can use the pencil to draw, sketch or write in any Mac app that offers stylus support!
Sidecar works with wires or no wires (wireless)
And like all Continuity features, Sidecar can run on a wireless connection (or a wired connection), making it easy to add a second monitor when on-the-go.
Does Sidecar support portrait mode and landscape mode?
Sorry folks, but at this time Sidecar only works in landscape mode.
You can change your iPad to work on either the left and right side of your Mac’s main screen, but nothing happens when you move the iPad into portrait mode, it just stays in landscape mode.
Getting the error “you can’t open “Sidecar” preferences pane because it is not available to you at this time?”
Most folks see this error due to the following reasons:
- Not signed in with the same Apple ID on Mac and iPad, so check that you are
- Not updated to the latest version of iPadOS and/or macOS–update as needed
- Using an incompatible Mac or iPad (click article link to learn how to make your older model Mac recognize Sidecar–this may or may not work depending on your model)
- Search for “Sidecar” in Spotlight Search on your Mac to access Sidecar’s settings. On older unsupported Mac, you still might see these settings but find it will not open anything
What Macs and iPads support Sidecar?
Apple hasn’t officially announced a list of Macs and iPads that support Sidecar. We can expect that list when Apple publically releases both macOS Catalina and iPadOS later in 2019. But for now, here’s what we know about Sidecar support for both iPads and Macs.
These iPad models support Sidecar, running iPadOS
- iPad Pro all generations
- iPad 5th and 6th generation
- iPad mini 4th and 5th generation
- iPad Air 3rd generation
- iPad Air 2
Currently, these Mac models “officially support” Sidecar, running macOS Catalina
- iMac 27″ late 2015 or newer
- MacBook Pro 2016 or newer
- Mac Mini 2018+
- Mac Pro 2019+
- MacBook Air 2018+
- MacBook early 2016 or newer
- iMac Pro 2017 or newer
Using an older Mac?
If your Mac is not listed in the officially supported list, there are still some alternatives that might get Sidecar working. Check out this article to learn how to enable Sidecar on older Macs. Again, this sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.
Using Sidecar on an unsupported Mac doesn’t look the best. The image quality is generally compromised, with lower screen resolution and may get choppy graphics, flickering, and laggy screen experience. However, most folks who tried this found that text is easily readable.
Seeing unable to connect errors?
Check Sidecar’s requirements
- You must log into the same Apple ID on both devices for Sidecar to work
- Two-factor authentication must be enabled on both the iPad and Mac
- Bluetooth must also be active on both devices
- If connecting wirelessly, make sure both devices connect to the same WiFi network
Try pairing your iPad to your Mac using Finder or the Music app (or any of the iTunes replacement apps.)
- Connect your iPad to your Mac with a cable
- Wait for your Mac to recognize the iPad
- If asked, Trust the device and enter a PIN if needed
Check how you connect your iPad to your Mac
Connect your devices using your mac’s System Preferences
- Turn on your Mac, then your iPad
- Open system preferences and click on Sidecar
- Select your iPad from the Connect to drop-down menu
- Wait for your Mac screen to become visible on your iPad
Connect your devices using AirPlay
- Turn on your Mac, then your iPad
- Tap the AirPlay icon in the top menu bar on your Mac
- If you don’t see the AirPlay icon in your menu bar, go to System Preferences > Displays and check the box for Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available
- Wait for your iPad to show up under the listed devices to AirPlay to: or Connect to:
When your Mac and iPad connect to each other with Sidecar, your AirPlay icon changes to a rectangle, indicating it’s connected to another device (your iPad)
Getting poor connection errors?
If your WiFi signal isn’t stable or strong, then Sidecar struggles to connect to your iPad wirelessly.
- Wake up your Mac! Make sure you Mac isn’t power napping, asleep, turning the display off automatically, or putting its hard drive to sleep–these things cause poor connection errors on your iPad when using Sidecar
- The easiest remedy is to connect your iPad and Mac using a cable, if possible
- If not, try connecting to a 5 GHz network and/or check that your Mac and iPad have the same DNS nameservers associated with your chosen network
- Restarting the iPad often helps get a better connection between devices
Sidecar only working with a wired connection?
If Sidecar is working when you connect your iPad to your Mac using an MFI cable, but it’s not working wirelessly try these tips:
- Verify you use the same WiFi network on both devices
- Enable Bluetooth on both the Mac and iPad
- On both your Mac and your iPad, sign out of iCloud, reboot both, sign back into iCloud, and finally restart again. Then, try Sidecar using WiFi
Not seeing Sidecar in System Preferences?
If you do not see Sidecar in your Mac’s system preferences, the first thing to check is your iPad and Mac model’s compatibility. And if using an older Mac, follow these steps to get Sidecar to show up.
If your Mac and iPad support Sidecar (or you used the older Mac workaround), but you still don’t the Sidecar icon in your Mac’s system preferences, try the following:
- Check that you turned on Bluetooth on both the Mac and iPad
- Connect to the same WiFi network on your Mac and iPad
- If connecting wirelessly, move your iPad closer to your Mac
- Tap the AirPlay icon on your Mac’s top menu bar and try connecting to your iPad from there. You may need to wait a few minutes for AirPlay to see your iPad
- Plug your iPad into your Mac with a lightning or USB-C cable and see if it connects with a direct-wired connection
- Check that you are logged into the same Apple ID on both devices
Is Sidecar not recognizing your touch on your iPad? Only works with Apple Pencil?
Apple designed Sidecar to extend or mirror your Mac’s display, but it did not make Mac apps responsive to your touch on your iPad’s screen. You can use your finger to change options in Sidecar’s sidebar and the touch bar–but that’s about it within the Sidecar app on iPad.
You can use your Apple Pencil because it is like a mouse or pointing device, but Apple claims our fingers are not sufficiently precise for Sidecar.
How to use Sidecar on your iPad
Where are my iPad’s Sidecar settings?
There are no settings for sidecar on an iPad–you find sidecar’s settings on your Mac only, using System Preferences >Sidecar and the AirPlay Menu.
How to change which side Sidecar places my iPad?
Sidecar defaults to placing your iPad’s screen to the right of your Mac. But many folks want to change this to the left side of your Mac’s main display.
Luckily, changing that is easy!
Visit System Preferences > Displays > Arrangement to make any changes to your iPad’s display location, resolutions, and color profiles.
Want to Mirror your Mac’s screen?
You can also mirror your Mac’s screen on your iPad by check-marking the option to Mirror Display in your AirPlay’s menu.
You can also find a checkbox to mirror your display in System Preferences > Displays> Arrangement.
Sidecar’s default is to use your iPad as a separate display.
How to send apps to your iPad using Sidecar
Sidecar lets you use your iPad just like you would any external monitor. That means you can drag and drop apps and windows between the two monitors.
Sidecar add another way to send apps to your iPad
Hover your cursor just over the green dot that normally expands a window to see some new options. Choose Move to iPad to send that app to your iPad’s screen.
If you want to quickly send it back to your Mac’s main display, hover over the green dot again and choose Move Window Back to Mac.
Sidecar includes three different ways of interacting with content on your iPad
- The Sidebar. When your iPad connects to your Mac with Sidecar, you see a Sidebar full of options on the left edge of your iPad’s screen. These sidebar options include controls and modifier keys for apps that support Sidecar. The sidebar also has your on-screen keyboard access toggle and a button to disconnect
- The Touchbar. The bottom of your iPad’s display includes controls similar to a MacBook’s TouchBar for things like volume, mute, screen brightness, and contrast, launchpad, player controls, and Siri. Press the arrow to expand and see all the available controls!
- Your iPad’s keyboard: Tap the keyboard icon in the sidebar to access the on-screen keyboard in order to type on your Mac app using your iPad’s floating keyboard. At this time, Sidecar supports only the floating (small) keyboard, not the full-size iPad on-screen keyboard
Yes, you can use your iPad as an iPad even when in Sidecar mode!
Sidecar works just like any app on your iPad, so you can switch to different apps using the app switcher, even when connected via Sidecar to a Mac. Pretty awesome.
When launching the app switcher, you’ll see Sidecar listed as an app preview, just like all open apps.
And you can force close Sidecar, just like normal
- When you force close Sidecar, it automatically disconnects from your Mac
- You see a message on your Mac that it is unable to connect to your iPad as the device was disconnected
Want to use Sidecar without your Apple ID and iCloud?
Does SideCar support multiple iPad displays?
At this time, you can only connect one iPad with Sidecar. So there is no multi-iPad support in Sidecar–at least not yet.
How to disconnect your iPad from Sidecar and your Mac
- To stop using your iPad as an additional Mac display, tap the AirPlay icon in your Mac’s top meny bar and choose Disconnect
- You can also disconnect in System Preferences > Sidecar > and press the Disconnect button underneath your iPad’s name
For folks on-the-go with MacBooks and iPads, Sidecar is a perfect companion to your workflow. Having an extra monitor at hand to work on makes things like photo and video editing on a MacBook so much easier.
Even though most of us prefer to go wireless, it’s awesome that Apple allows wired connections between your Mac and iPad for times when a WiFi network isn’t available, is slow or unstable, or when we get connection errors.
- Try connecting your iPad with a cable and selecting your iPad in Finder first to establish a trust relationship. See if your iPad shows up in AirPlay and then see if you can extend your Mac’s display to it. And check in System Preferences too for the Sidecar icon.
- For me, I had to reinstall of Catalina to get Sidecar working on my Mac and iPad (both listed as supported models)
- I had to sign out of iCloud on both my iPad and my Mac, reboot, then sign back in with my Apple ID (same on both devices.) After that, Sidecar worked perfectly!
- I had to rename my iPad to something different, but once I renamed my iPad–no problems connecting to Mac using Sidecar
- Check that you have Two-Factor authentication enabled on both your iPad and Mac. For Macs, go to Apple menu > System Preferences > iCloud > Account Details. Enter your Apple ID. Click Security. Click Turn On Two-Factor Authentication. For iPads, go to Settings >Apple ID > Password & Security and turn on Two-Factor Authentication
- I had to sign out of iCloud on my devices, reboot, sign back intoCloud, then restart once more. After that Sidecar worked!
For most of her professional life, Amanda Elizabeth (Liz for short) trained all sorts of folks on how to use media as a tool to tell their own unique stories. She knows a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides!
Her clients include Edutopia, Scribe Video Center, Third Path Institute, Bracket, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Big Picture Alliance.
Elizabeth received her Master of Fine Arts degree in media making from Temple University, where she also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member in their department of Film and Media Arts.