Apple Universal Control delivers major productivity benefits

Apple’s Universal Control allows you to use the same keyboard and mouse to control up to three Macs and an iPad (one of which must be a Mac) while at your desktop. I think the new feature delivers serious improvements when you need to work.

Universal Control is now available

Announced at WWDC last year, The long – awaited usability improvement for iPad Mac – use owners took months to test and build before it was finally released this month. You must be running iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3 (or later) on your iPad (s) and Mac (s) to use it.

To enable Universal Control, you must first ensure that all the devices you want to use have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; they are all logged into the same iCloud account; and that you are using two-factor authentication to protect that account.

You can also connect your Mac to an iPad using a USB cable if Wi-Fi is not available.

How to prepare Universal Control for action

You will then need to adjust the following settings:

On your Mac (s):

Open System Preferences> General and then tick the ‘Allow transfer between this Mac and your iCloud devices’ box. You have to open it then System Options> Display and tap Universal Control…. Check all three boxes.

On your iPad (s):

Open Settings> General> AirPlay & Handoff and toggle Handoff and Cursor and Keyboard to Ar (green).

Once you have your devices enabled you need to place them next to each other. You can use one iPad and two Macs or one Mac and two iPads – or one of each – with this feature.

  • When located next to each other, move your cursor to the left or right of the screen next to your iPad.
  • Your Mac should have a white bar appearing with a similar bar appearing on your iPad. Press through the white bar (from your Mac display) and the white bar on your iPad will display a bump containing a circular mouse pointer.
  • Continue moving your cursor and it will be enabled for use on that iPad.

Once you have your devices connected, look at the top of your Mac’s menu bar where you can find Display item. Open this, and you will see all the devices connected to your Mac.

How to use Universal Control

When you use Universal Control, you will see the exact pointer used by Apple to point a cursor on the iPad (on the Mac the cursor will appear as usual). You can use the pointer on your tablet as if it were your finger, to tap, double tap, drag items, and so on.

But it does not stop there. You can also use your Mac’s keyboard with your iPad. Put it all together and you can see how easily you can now switch between all the different devices from a single keyboard and mouse, allowing you to work in a completely different way.

It allows you to keep your fingers in one place, and helps minimize downtime as you move between the two operating systems.

In use, I did not encounter any problems, even during the beta period. Sometimes I need to remind myself which edge of the Mac window I should use to reach the appropriate device, as only the left and right sides of the window can be used for this.

How I use Universal Control

The work I do is usually quite research intensive. I am already accustomed to using Spaces and Mission Control Create different desktops for different projects.

For me, this approach has always been compromised by the need to check email and other incoming communications, as these applications get lost within multiple windows as I frequently move them between Spaces . I know I should create a Mission Control Space for communication, but I usually fail to do that.

Universal Control means I can handle all of my communications using an iPad window, focusing on the task at hand on my Mac. It also means I can use iPads for further research. This is the setup that works for me; now everyone can find their own way to use their iPad and Mac in a more efficient way.

What are the benefits of Universal Control?

The extra space and utility also creates an extremely productive experience that is far more affordable (and much more portable) than a dual- or three-monitor monitor setup – especially on a small desktop.

There are careers in which a huge advantage is access to additional windows and the ability to control devices from a single keyboard and mouse. Think of video news professionals who try to record and edit live clips in the field. As long as they can set up a local Wi-Fi connection (or use a USB cable) they can get an extra PC to work with alongside their Mac.

Not all use cases are creative. There are plenty of travel business professionals who will have the ability to empower them with a display, by installing a computer in one notebook bag.

Developers are sure to benefit – and as the devices continue to offer their own standalone utility (iPad is still an iPad, Mac is a Mac) it raises all the buzz of productivity.

Is there a way to do this bigger useful?

Once you start using Universal Control, you will be able to use your Mac’s keyboard as if it were connected to your iPad. If you have never used a keyboard with an iPad before, or have never done so but have never achieved them, it’s worth learning the keyboard commands for both devices.

Here they are 30 keyboard commands for Mac. Some commands work the same way on both iPads and Macs – Command-Space Spotlight search will invoke, for example, though Command tab it will open the App Switcher window on iPad, just like it does on a Mac.

Apple has it easy too Find keyboard shortcuts which works on your iPad and in certain iPad apps – just press and hold the Order key. Doing so will show you iPad-type shortcuts, or app-specific shortcuts you have when you press and hold Order.

You will see an exact symbol used in these shortcuts. The IS Fn a key on the lower left side of a Mac keyboard can be used instead – so Fn-Q on your Mac keyboard a Quick Note will open on the iPad when connected to Universal Control.

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Apple Universal Control delivers major productivity benefits

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