How Universal Control works in macOS and iPadOS and why you need it

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Apple has released the first beta versions of iPadOS 15.4 and macOS 12.3, which finally have the Universal Control feature announced last summer. It’s one of those ecosystem things that makes it even easier to use Macs and iPads in one bundle.

Moreover, it can be either a bunch of Mac + iPad, or Mac + Mac, or even Mac + Mac + iPad.

Attention: You can install beta versions of all systems for Apple products using the developer profile, which can be downloaded from betaprofiles.com. You perform all actions with test software at your own peril and risk. If you have never dealt with beta versions of systems and are ready to wait for the final firmware, it is better to do so.

What exactly does Universal Control do?

The innovation allows you to control multiple devices, in particular, Mac and iPad using a single keyboard, mouse and trackpad. It does not matter which device this peripheral is connected to – you can even control an iMac or MacBook connected to the iPad Magic Keyboard if the devices are next to each other.

The second feature of Universal Control is the seamless copying of files from one device to another with a simple “drag-and-drop” transfer using a mouse or trackpad, which complements the universal clipboard, which appeared several years ago as part of the Handoff function.

What devices support it?

  • MacBook (2016 and newer)
  • MacBook Air (2018 and newer)
  • MacBook Pro (2016 and newer)
  • iMac (2017 and up)
  • iMac (5K Retina 27″, Late 2015)
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac mini (2018 and newer)
  • Mac Pro (2019)

  • iPad Pro
  • iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
  • iPad (6th generation and later)
  • iPad mini (5th generation and later)

How to activate Universal Control?

On iPad, after updating to iPad 15.4, the feature is automatically activated. If you need to deactivate it, then the desired switch is located along the path: Settings – General – AirPlay and Handoff – Cursor and keyboard:

To activate Universal Control in macOS 12.3, you need to go along the path: Settings – Monitors – Add a monitor and select your iPad in the list in the “Keyboard and mouse binding” section:

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Handoff must be activated on all devices (in macOS, the checkbox is located along the path Settings – General – Allow Handoff… ). In addition, all gadgets must work under the same Apple ID.

Usage impressions

Apple was pretty delayed with the release of the function – announced last summer at WWDC 21, Universal Control got to devices only at the end of January, and so far only in beta. The final versions of the software are expected only in the spring.

It should be noted that during this time, Apple has managed to bring the function almost to the ideal. On some earlier versions of the Universal Control system, it was possible to activate workarounds, but it worked, to put it mildly, unstable.

But on iPadOS 15.4 and macOS 12.3, it was not possible to catch any lags during the day of using it, there is no delay in switching between devices – everything works exactly as it was shown in the presentation.

Of course, Universal Control will delight apple fans who use Mac + iPad or Mac + Mac bundles. After all, it greatly simplifies the use of different devices within the same table, including file transfer. Although, it would seem, what else could appear more convenient after AirDrop?