Only a small number of Macs will support Sidecar in macOS Catalina

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Luna Display easily converts an iPad into a second screen for your MacBook Pro.
Third-party solutions are far from dead.
Photo: Astro HQ

Not many Apple computers will be left out in the cold when its big macOS Catalina upgrade rolls out this fall. But even if your Mac is compatible, it might not be able to take advantage of every feature.

Sidecar, which lets you use an iPad as a second screen, will only support a limited number of machines. If your Mac is getting a little long in the tooth, you’re probably going to be out of luck.

Sidecar was one of the features rumored ahead of macOS Catalina’s official unveiling, and it looks terrific. It essentially turns your iPad into a second display for your Mac without the need for third-party software and add-ons.

What’s more, Sidecar plays nicely with Apple Pencil, so your iPad can become a graphics tablet for your Mac. And it will display Touch Bar controls for Macs that don’t come with a Touch Bar built-in.

But the vast majority of us will still need to rely on third-party solutions.

Sidecar support is limited

It seems that a strangely small list of Macs are officially compatible with Sidecar:

  • 27-inch iMac (Late 2015 or newer)
  • iMac Pro
  • MacBook Pro (2016 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (2018)
  • 12-inch MacBook (early 2016 or newer)
  • Mac mini (2018)
  • Mac Pro (2019)

One of the most notable omissions from this list is the previous Mac Pro. Despite all the power it offers, it somehow isn’t compatible with Sidecar.

A list of blacklisted devices can be seen in the tweet below from developer Steve Troughton-Smith.

There are some caveats

If your Mac isn’t on the list of supported machines, don’t be too disappointed just yet. Troughton-Smith has also posted a workaround that may get Sidecar working on unsupported devices — but it’s not guaranteed to work.

Simply enter the following command into Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.sidecar.display allowAllDevices -bool YES

The other thing we should bear in mind here is that macOS Catalina is in its first beta phase. More machines could be made compatible with Sidecar by the time the upgrade rolls out to everyone this fall.