While at WWDC 2021, Apple introduced a new feature for the Mac. Well, technically, it’s also for the iPad, but it’ll be enabled with the macOS Monterey software update. Called Universal Control, it will allow you to control multiple Apple devices, such as an iMac, MacBook, and iPad, all with the same keyboard and mouse. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Universal Control?
Apple is updating its Continuity system with Universal Control. It lets you work with a single mouse and keyboard and move between Mac and iPad for a seamless experience, no setup required. You can drag and drop content between devices, with your mouse moving across all their displays as if they were tethered.
When will Universal Control be available?
Universal Control will be available when macOS Monterey and iPadOS 15 roll out to consumers in autumn 2021. Currently, developer betas of those software updates are available for testing, and the public betas are set to arrive this summer. However, we recommend you wait until macOS Monterey and iPadOS 15 officially roll out later this year before actually using Universal Control across all your Apple devices, just to ensure they’re free of any bugs or glitches.
How does Universal Control work?
Since Universal Control isn’t officially yet available (although you can test it in the Monterey developer beta), everything described below is subject to change.
No setup required
Apple demoed Universal Control during WWDC 2021. Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi showed how he could use Universal Control to put the finishing touches on a Procreate illustration on his iPad, and then move to a presentation on his MacBook. All he did was set his iPad down next to his Mac. Without any other setup, Federighi touched his MacBook trackpad and moved the cursor toward his iPad, and then the iPad automatically recognised it. Neat!
Although Apple said no setup is required, presumably, your Apple devices will need to be registered to the same Apple ID and running on the same network. We’re also guessing the ability to disable Universal Control will also be buried under your Continuity Settings. We’ll let you know as we learn more.
Control your devices with a single trackpad and keyboard
During Federighi’s presentation, his MacBook cursor completely jumped from his laptop to the iPad’s display. He could then use the cursor to control the tablet.
He also demoed moving the cursor back and forth effortlessly between the two devices. Again, using just his MacBook trackpad, he clicked and closed a Procreate document on his iPad and flicked to return to his iPad home screen. He even swiped between pages of apps. Federighi could also control his iPad with the MacBook’s built-in keyboard. He opened Spotlight and then typed Notes to open that app. He then used the Command tab to switch back to Procreate.
Finally, Federighi showed how he could drag and drop files between devices. He took a drawing in Procreate on his Pad and dropped into a keynote on his Mac.
Universal Control works with more than two devices
One of the coolest parts about Universal Control is that you can use it with several Macs and iPads – not just two. During Federighi’s presentation, he showed how Universal Control can work on an iMac, MacBook, and iPad all at once. Using the MacBook’s keyboard and trackpad, he controlled his nearby iMac. He also switched to using the iMac’s keyboard and mouse. With those, he dragged a text image in Procreate on his iPad across all three devices to Final Cut on his iMac.
Which Apple devices offer Universal Control?
You can use Universal Control on any Mac running macOS Monterey and any iPad running iPadOS 15. To see if your devices are eligible, see our guides:
Will iPadOS 15 run on your iPad?Will MacOS Monterey run on your Mac?
Want to know more?
Pocket-lint has feature round-ups on macOS Monterey and iPadOS 15. Apple also has a press release detailing Universal Control here.