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Apple’s Universal Control for the Mac is now available — sort of

Though Universal Control was introduced as a key new feature of MacOS Monterey, Apple had so far not launched this coveted update to early testers of its operating system on public or developer betas — until now. Though Universal Control, which allows you to use and share the keyboard and mouse on a nearby Mac to control your iPadOS 15-powered tablet, is still not officially available through Apple’s MacOS Monterey beta or iPadOS 15 beta releases, you can enable this feature by launching a few Terminal commands found on GitHub.

Apple's Universal Control lets you share your keyboard and mouse with other Macs and iPads nearby.

Given that you still need to run Terminal commands to enable the feature, we wouldn’t recommend home users on Apple’s public beta to tinker with the process required to bring Universal Control to life. However, given that these are relatively easy steps for developers to enable, it may not be long before Apple begins deploying Universal Control to future beta builds of MacOS Monterey and iPadOS 15.

The feature serves as a virtual KVM switch to allow you to share nearby input devices from a Mac with your iPad tablet. The benefit for road warriors and travelers who need to do work on both a MacBook laptop and an iPad is that you can essentially leave your iPad keyboard cover at home and be able to travel with a lighter gear bag.

In addition to being able to share your Mac’s keyboard device with an iPad, you can also do the same between two Mac computers. The latter scenario would be great for those who use an iMac at their desk and who also own a MacBook Pro. In this case, you’ll be able to share the built-in keyboard and trackpad of your MacBook Pro with your iMac and, conversely, you’ll also be able to share your desktop’s keyboard and mouse with your laptop without having to repair the devices every time you want to switch.

According to MacRumors, the feature currently only enables input device sharing between two Macs with the GitHub codes, as the iPad OS beta doesn’t support the feature yet. The publication noted that lag was very minimal and the feature works as Apple had advertised it during its Wordwide Developers Conference keynote in June. While Universal Control is supposed to automatically detect a nearby Mac or iPad near it — similar to how iPhones can detect and connect with nearby AirPods — you do need to “pair” your devices in your Mac’s System Preferences controls in this latest beta build.

If you’re adventurous enough to try out Universal Control and run the required Terminal commands at this time, be sure to let us know about your experience with keyboard and mouse sharing between your Mac computers. For those who want to play it safe, MacOS Monterey and iPadOS 15 will be commercially available this fall after all beta testing is completed.

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Chuong Nguyen
Silicon Valley-based technology reporter and Giants baseball fan who splits his time between Northern California and Southern…
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