Hands-On With Universal Control in iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3

Apple today released new developer betas of iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3, and the updated software adds the long awaited and highly anticipated Universal Control feature. We tested out Universal Control, and even in an early beta form, ‌Universal Control‌ is an easy to use and convenient multi-device control option.

To use ‌Universal Control‌, the iPadOS 15.4 beta and the macOS Monterey 12.3 beta must be installed on your iPad and Mac, respectively. When you update, the feature is enabled by default and should work automatically, but we did run into an issue where we needed to restart the Mac to get it to work.

Settings for ‌Universal Control‌ on the Mac can be found under Displays > Advanced if you want to turn it off for some reason or change the functionality, and on the ‌iPad‌, you can find the toggle under General > AirPlay & Handoff.

After updating, if you have a Mac and an ‌iPad‌ next to each other, or even multiple Macs and iPads, you can use the keyboard and cursor on one device across all of them. So, for example, if you have a MacBook Pro and an iPad Pro on your desk as we do in our video, the MacBook Pro's trackpad can be used over on the ‌iPad‌ just by swiping across, as can the keyboard. The same is true of the ‌iPad‌ if you have a keyboard attached. ‌Universal Control‌ works between multiple Macs and between multiple Macs and iPads.

You can drag files from the Mac to the ‌iPad‌ and vice versa, but on ‌iPad‌, you will need to have the appropriate app open. So if you're dragging a photo from Mac to ‌iPad‌, you need to open Photos -- it can't go on the Home screen. Trackpad gestures for Mac do not appear to work on the ‌iPad‌, which is also worth noting.

It's an intuitive and simple-to-use feature because you can just swipe right over from one display to the next with no lag or other hindrances. You can use ‌Universal Control‌ on any Mac or ‌iPad‌ that's signed into your iCloud account, and it's a great example of an Apple feature that "just works."

Have you tried out ‌Universal Control‌? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Top Rated Comments

turbineseaplane Avatar
30 months ago
I’m sure over the long haul it will be every bit as reliable as most Apple software that tries to interact across devices.


I can just hear tech-support now…

“are all 3 devices on at least version xx.xx?”
“Have you tried the betas to see if it fixes that?”
“Consider resetting your hardware”
“Have you logged out and back into iCloud?”
“Is Bluetooth on?”
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
30 months ago
Based on the reviews it just looks incredible. The fact you can use iPad OS gesture is a big winner for me. Just amazing, and it was worth waiting for it.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fernelius Avatar
30 months ago

Why do you need to be on iCloud? Will it only work with files that are on iCloud?

If so, it's useless to me.
I think the devices just need to be signed-in to the same iCloud account. This validates they belong to the same user and are reasonably entitled to access one another’s files, control, etc. I suspect (but haven’t installed to check) that files can be located locally, in iCloud, or in some other accessible location.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
exoticSpice Avatar
30 months ago

Well that pretty much kills the feature for me. Lovely!
This is a security feature, you don't want random people coming close and controlling your Mac/iPad and moving files over to their devices.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jclo Avatar
30 months ago

The article suggests this feature will work between two iPads without a Mac present. Is this true? This wasn’t what I understood from WWDC but would be great. I can have a book open on my iPad Mini alongside my iPad Pro 11 with two apps and be working from the Magic Keyboard with both!
I took this out of the article. We didn't test this specifically, so I'm not sure that's accurate. I'll test it and re-add if it's right, but otherwise, sorry for the confusion.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
walterpaisley Avatar
30 months ago
I just tried this across my MacBook Pro, Mini, and iPad and it worked seamlessly. I was even able to drag a file from my MBP across my Mini and drop it on my iPad and it transferred as expected. Very nice work.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)