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How to Enable Sidecar on Unsupported Macs. Starting with macOS Catalina, Sidecar is no longer available to turn your iPad into a second monitor since it was removed in this update. This article teaches you how to enable Sidecar on macOS Catalina. To use Sidecar normally (like with Big Sur), choose the option from the AirPlay menu in the menu bar at the top of your screen
Sidecar is that spiffy new feature that allows you to extend your Mac desktop to an iPad. It’s cool but only officially supports the following devices;
- Any 27-inch iMac from Late 2015 or newer
- Any iMac Pro
- All MacBook Pros since 2016
- 2018 MacBook Air
- Early 2016 12-inch MacBook (or newer of course)
- 2018 Mac mini
- 2019 Mac Pro
Here’s the thing, those limitations are set based on performance of the machine. The /System/Library/PreferencePanes/Sidecar.prefPane actually shows support for a couple of keys that allow you to use Sidecar even if your device isn’t one of these. Buyer beware though, if you end up with performance issues then run the same commands swapping out true with false and reboot.
Steps on How to Enable Sidecar on Unsupported Macs
- Connect your iPad to your Mac with a cable. Your iPad should have come with a lightning to USB cable that you’ll want to use. The lightning port is at the bottom of your iPad and the USB port on your computer is either on the back or sides of the monitor.
- Open Terminal. You can find it in the Utilities folder in Finder, or by pressing Cmd + Spacebar to open Spotlight.
- Enter the following code.
defaults write com.apple.sidecar.display AllowAllDevices -bool true; defaults write com.apple.sidecar.display hasShownPref -bool true; open /System/Library/PreferencePanes/Sidecar.prefPane
- Press Return. This will run the command you typed into Terminal. Typos will return an error, so if you don’t get the result you want, you’ll need to type it in again.
- If prompted enter your password.
- You’ll know if this code was successful if your System Preferences opens with an option for “Sidecar.
First, we’ll set the AllowAllDevices key in the com.apple.sidecar.display defaults domain too true. This will enable the preference for all computers that can run macOS Catalina (otherwise you won’t have the Sidecar.prefPane and supporting frameworks).
defaults write com.apple.sidecar.display AllowAllDevices -bool true
The preference pane was hidden, so we’ll go ahead and unhide it (I’ve found this optional with a reboot, but I’m not patient enough to reboot these days!). To do this we’ll write the hasShownPref key into the same defaults domain as the last command and set it to true:
defaults write com.apple.sidecar.display hasShownPref -bool true
After a reboot the preference pane should appear as usual, but you can open it manually in the meantime using a simple open command followed by the path to the .prefPane:
This doesn’t allow you to use any old iPad though. Sidecar supports the following iPads:
- iPad Air (3rd generation)
- iPad mini (5th generation)
- iPad (6tth and 7th generation)
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st and 2nd generation)
- iPad Pro 10.5-inch
- iPad Pro 9.7-inch
If you want to use an unsupported iPad, check out https://github.com/pookjw/SidecarPatcher.
To then use AirPlay:
- Click on the AirPlay icon in the menu bar on your Mac or that Sidecar Preference Pane (Sidecar.prefPane).
- Click on the iPad.
- Drag a window to the iPad.
You can also mirror instead. In that case just click on the button to mirror. You should then have the “Move to <NAME OF IPAD> iPad” option when you click on the green jelly (the green circle in the top left corner of the title bar). That button is your buddy. As is the sidebar you see on the iPad. There you have options to show the dock, show a keyboard, undo, etc.
If all this causes performance issues on an older unsupported computer, run this command to undo it (or just delete the keys):
defaults write com.apple.sidecar.display AllowAllDevices -bool false;
defaults write com.apple.sidecar.display hasShownPref -bool false
Any other tips on Sidebar, or if you figured out how to use any old iPad, feel free to comment!