Mac table setting lovers have had a wonderful month. Display Studio is Apple’s first new display in more than a decade of remote control (as opposed to $ 6,000). But there is a new option that I have researched that has completely changed the perception of external exposure. Global control is now available in iOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3, and you should give it a shot if you can get it to work in your system.
If you haven’t heard of Global Control, the basic lets you use your Mac keyboard and mouse or music pad to control your iPad (or another Mac, although I can’t test that). Just tap your cursor to the side of your Mac monitor, and it will jump on the iPad just like any other monitor connected to your Mac. But it’s not a Mac monitor – it’s also an iPad. One that you can control with the keyboard and music pad you are using a few seconds back with your Mac
You have been able to use iPads as wired or wireless external Mac monitors for many years through official or third-party systems. With Global Control, though, you still use the iPad OS on the iPad screen – you just don’t have to manually remove your Mac input devices to get there. It is multitasking between multiple OSes and devices instead of just multiple apps.
When you first connect, your cursor “pushes through” from the Mac screen to the iPad. Screenshot by Sam Byford / The Verge. Why would you want to do that? The right question. I haven’t used iPadOS as the main operating system since Apple decided to start making better laptops again, but there are still some things I like more than macOS. Essentially, it is best for focus cases where you only need one or two things on the screen at once. Media and gaming apps are always better on the iPad than the Mac, for example, if the Mac even has a native application in the first place. I spend today mostly working on my Mac Mini with Slack and Twitter pins to my iPad Pro screen beside, sometimes switching to a YouTube app for testing. Hey, nothing to cut browsers and Electron applications.
The most amazing thing about Global Control is that it bridges the gap between the two systems, making it more than a neat way to get around Bluetooth connectivity. You can drag a file from your iPad right to your Mac desktop and vice versa. Copy and paste works well. It means that any work I do on one machine can take us instantly to another. You don’t even need to set anything up – just put your iPad next to your Mac, try moving the cursor across the screens, and Global Control will figure out what you’re trying to do. It doesn’t need Apple peripherals, either. I was interacting with my Magic Trackpad alongside the Happy Hacking Keyboard attached to the USB Mini, of all things.
This must have been a huge technical and design challenge. All control is actually arriving later than expected; it was announced at Apple’s Global Developers Forum last May last year but is not ready yet. The extra time seems to be worth the wait, though, because it has been working almost seamlessly for me. That has not been the case with Sidecar, an Apple version that transformed the iPad into an external Mac monitor, which has always been lazy and reliable in my experience.
Here is how to enable or disable Global Control in System Preferences. As you can see, it is also listed as a beta version. Screenshot by Sam Byford / The Verge Even after the public release, Apple also listed Global Control in Program Preferences as a beta version. I did not run into any major problems, but today, I need to turn it on and off two times to get connected first. Hopefully, that is something that takes the iron out soon when Apple feels ready to remove the beta label.
In beta mode, though, Global Control is an example of Apple being the best. This is not an obvious feature or one that thousands of people would have shouted for. But it is a feature made possible by the fact that there are many iPads and Macs out there that Apple has full control of software for and a feature that will make a small number of people very happy by its simple processor. Read me among those people.