How to Set up and Use Universal Control (2022)

Lots of exciting things have been announced on WWDC 21 last year. While the stars of the show were the new ones iOS 15, iPad OS 15 and macOS 12 Monterey, there was another thing that amazed users around the world. The feature, shown as Universal Control, showed an incredible ability to use multiple devices simultaneously. But what exactly is it and how do you use it now that it’s out? Find out all that and more as I show you how to set up and use Universal Control on your Apple devices.

Set up and use universal controls (2022)

While I’m showing you how to set up Universal Control, I’ll start with the article on what it is and how it works. If you’d rather just go through the process, use the table below to do so.

What is Universal Control?

Expected since WWDC 21, Universal Control is a feature from Apple that makes it possible one to use cursor and keyboard of Apple device like Mac to control others like iPad. So, users with an iPad and a Mac can effectively use the hardware of one device to control both seamlessly. What makes this special, however, is its extensive functionality.

In addition to dragging a single cursor across multiple devices, you can: easily drag and drop media and files from one device to another. Universal Control enables this drag and drop transfer for all types of files and supports Mac to iPad and vice versa.

Set up and use universal controls on Mac and iPad
Source: Apple

For instance – You want to transfer a specific project file from your iPad to your MacBook Pro without going through a big process. All you need to do is take the cursor from your Mac, bring it to your iPad and drag the file back to the Mac. The file is transferred immediately and is ready to use on your MacBook.

As of now, however, there are some caveats to this Universal Control. You cannot drag and drop files from your Mac to your iPad’s home screen. You need to transfer it to a supported iPad app instead. However, as this feature is in beta, we can expect updates soon.

How does it work?

While Apple hasn’t provided an explanation for how Universal Control works, chances are it works over a single connection. Since the feature works as a chain connecting all devices, it would make sense that all devices should be connected via a seamless network connection. Furthermore, one must also be signed in to the same iCloud account on all devices for maximum compatibility. Once done, Universal Control essentially connects all the devices in a setup so they can all be controlled at the same time.

The best thing about Universal Control is the ability to use it on multiple devices at once. During WWDC 21, Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi successfully used this feature to drag and drop a file across an iPad and a MacBook to eventually an iMac, as you can see above. So rest assured, you can continue to use Universal Control with up to three of your devices easy.

Can I even use iPad shortcuts?

Yes, that’s possible. Apple’s Universal Control fully supports iPad shortcuts with a Mac’s keyboard. So you can easily perform keyboard shortcuts on your iPad using your Mac.

iPad Shortcuts for Universal Control

Go ahead and multitask on your iPad while working on your Mac at the same time. Keep in mind, though, that most iPad keyboard shortcuts use the “Emoji/Fn‘ key on the Mac keyboard instead of the command key, so keep that in mind before trying this out. Here are the iPad keyboard shortcuts you can use:

  • Emoji/Fn + H: Go to home screen
  • Command + space: Spotlight Search
  • Command + Tab: Switch apps
  • Emoji/Fn + A: Show dock
  • Shift + Emoji/Fn + A: Show app library
  • Emoji/Fn + Q: quick note
  • Emoji/Fn + S: Siri
  • Emoji/Fn + C: Control Center
  • Emoji/Fn + N: Notification center
  • Emoji/Fn + M: Show shortcuts
  • Emoji/Fn + Up Arrow: App Switcher
  • Emoji/Fn + Left Arrow: Previous app

Things you need to set up universal control

Have you already gathered your Apple devices to try it out? Hold your cursors for a moment while I tell you what you need to get Universal Control. Make sure you’ve checked the next thing off your list before moving on.

1. macOS Monterey 12.3

The new Universal Control feature is currently only available in developer and public beta versions. As such, you must have the latest . download and install macOS 12.3 Monterey Public Beta. However, we’ve made it easy for you. To learn how to download and install macOS Monterey public beta here. When you’re done, come back to this article.

2. iPad OS 15.4

The second piece of this puzzle, the public beta of iPadOS 15.4, was recently released by Apple. As before, you need to download and install this before you can mount it for Universal Control. To learn how iPadOS 15 . to download and install by following our iOS guide. Don’t worry, the steps remain the same.

3. Devices on the same iCloud account

Since Universal Control is supposed to work over a single connection, it also needs a single network. Make sure both your Mac and iPad are connected to the same wifi network before continuing. Furthermore, make sure that both devices are signed in with the same iCloud account.

Set up and use universal controls on your Mac and iPad

If you’ve already installed the above public betas, chances are Universal Control is enabled by default and already working. However, if not or if you want to adjust some settings, follow the steps below for both devices to get started:

Set up universal controls on Mac

1. On your Mac, Click on the Apple icon in the menu bar top left of the screen. In the list that appears, click System Preferences.

open system preferences in macOS

2. Click Displays from the System Preferences window that opens.

displays tab mac

3. Click Advanced to open Universal Control settings.

advanced display settings

4. Check the following boxes to fully enable Universal Control: ‘Move your cursor and keyboard between a nearby Mac or iPad’, ‘Push through the edge of a screen to a nearby Mac or iPad to connect” and “Automatically reconnect to any nearby Mac or iPad”.

Universal Control Settings on Mac

Set up universal controls on iPad

1. Tap the Settings app on your iPad.

iPad Settings app

2. In the sidebar that appears, tap the General tab, then tap Airplay and transfer from the window that appears.

Go to AirPlay and Handoff Settings on iPad

3. Click the switch that appears next to Cursor and keyboard (beta) to enable Universal Control.

Set up universal controls on iPad

And you’re done! Universal Control is now ready to use on both devices. Just place them side by side and use each device’s trackpad and drag it to the other to use it! If you find that it still doesn’t work, restart both your Mac and your iPad and the problem should be solved right away.

Customize or disable Universal Controls on Mac

If you like universal control, but want to change the alignment or arrangement of devices, it’s very easy. If you happen to not like Universal Control, you can also follow the steps below to disable it.

1. On your Mac, click the Apple menu bar top left of the screen. In the list that appears, click System Preferences.

Open System Preferences in macOS

2. Click Displays from the System Preferences window that opens.

System Preferences in macOS 12.3 Monterey

3. Here you can rearrange the displays as desired. just drag them and drop them according to your own arrangement and it is done immediately. Users who want to disable Universal Control, click Display settings to be taken to the next screen.

display settings mac

4. If not already done, click Advanced in the sidebar and uncheck the following to disable Universal Control. ‘Let your cursor and keyboard move between any nearby Mac or iPad‘, ‘Push through the edge of a screen to connect a nearby Mac or iPad‘, and ‘Automatically reconnect to a nearby Mac or iPad‘.

Universal Control Settings in Mac

And you’re all set. Feel free to come back to these settings if you find that the format is not quite correct or if you change your mind about Universal Control.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I use Universal Control on iPhone?

Unfortunately, Universal Control is only available for macOS and iPadOS devices. So you cannot use Universal Control on iPhone.

Q. Does Universal Control work with Intel Macs?

Yes, Universal Control works with certain recent Intel MacBooks and iMacs.

Q. What devices are supported by Universal Control?

Here is the list of devices that support Universal Control:

  • MacBook Pro (2016 and later)
  • MacBook (2016 and later)
  • MacBook Air (2018 and later)
  • 21-inch iMac (2017 and later)
  • 27-inch iMac (2015 and later)
  • 24-inch iMac
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac pro
  • Mac mini (2018 and later)
  • iPad Pro
  • iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
  • iPad (6th generation and above)
  • iPad mini (5th generation and above)

Q. How many devices can I use with Universal Control?

Up to three devices can work with Universal Control at the same time. This can be both Macs and iPads.

Use one keyboard and mouse with multiple Mac and iPad devices

Universal Control is a really impressive feature that makes it really easy to control multiple Apple devices with a single set of keyboard and mouse. Along with the ability to seamlessly drag and drop files between devices, Universal Control is certainly a feature that showcases the strengths of the Apple ecosystem.

So, have you used Universal Control? Did you like it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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