Universal Control Not Working? Here is What you Can Do to Fix it

This article offers troubleshooting steps to fix common Universal Control issues. It seems that Universal Control is not always working as expected, but it also seems that the fix is usually easy. Universal Control lets you control multiple Macs and iPads using the same trackpad/mouse and keyboard. You will need a compatible iPad running iPadOS 15.4 or later and a compatible Mac running macOS Monterey 12.3 or later.

Apple says this feature is still in beta. This means that Apple is still developing this feature. That also means that they may have issues that cause it to stop working. Sometimes you may get error messages like “timed out.” There are some known issues already. For example, there are some reports that Universal Control is not working when two users are logged in to a Mac. Some of the issues will likely be fixed with the next iPadOS or macOS update. Thus ensure that your Mac and iPad are up to date.

Are your devices compatible?

To use this feature, you will need at least one Mac. Then you can control up to two other nearby Mac or iPad devices. If your iPad or Mac is not compatible, you won’t be able to use this feature. The following models support Universal Control:

Mac:

  • MacBook introduced in 2016 or later
  • MacBook Pro introduced in 2016 or later
  • MacBook Air introduced in 2018 or later
  • Mac mini introduced in 2018 or later
  • iMac introduced in 2017 or later, plus iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2015)
  • iMac Pro introduced in 2017
  • Mac Pro introduced in 2019 or later

You can go to Apple menu > About This Mac to identify your Mac model.

iPad:

  • iPad Pro (all models)
  • iPad (6th generation) or later
  • iPad Air (3rd generation) or later
  • iPad mini (5th generation) or later

You can go to Settings > General > About to identify your iPad model.

Is Universal Control enabled?

After ensuring that your devices are compatible, ensure that Universal Control is enabled on both devices. When you update your device to the macOS version with Universal Control, this feature will be disabled by default. You will need to turn it on.

Mac:

  1. Click Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Displays.
  2. Click Universal Control.
  3. Select the Allow your cursor and keyboard to move between any nearby Mac or iPad box.
  4. Click Done.
Universal Control setting

iPad:

  1. Tap Settings > General > AirPlay & Handoff.
  2. Turn on Cursor and Keyboard. If you do not see this option, you will need to turn on Handoff first. Toggle on its switch, and then the Cursor and Keyboard option will become available.
Universal Control iPad

Are the basic requirements met?

Ensure that the following requirements are met:

  • On your Mac and iPad, you must be using the same Apple ID.
  • Ensure that your Mac and iPad are close to each other. According to Apple’s documentation, they should be within 1 meter (3 feet).
  • Ensure that on your Mac and iPad, the following settings are enabled:
    • Wi-Fi
    • Bluetooth
    • Handoff:
      • Mac: Choose Apple menu > System Preferences > General. Select “Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices.”
      • iPad: Tap Settings > General > AirPlay & Handoff, then turn on Handoff.
  • Ensure that other devices are not connected to your iPad’s Hotspot (Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot or Settings > Personal Hotspot).
  • Ensure that your Mac is not sharing the Internet connection (Apple menu > System Preferences > Sharing).
  • Make sure that your Mac is not sleeping and your iPad is not locked.

Universal Control still not working?

So you followed every step above, and Universal Control is still not working. If that is the case, try these steps:

Restart

Restart your devices, but follow these steps:

  • Disable Universal Control on your iPad and Mac (see the steps above).
  • Restart your Mac and iPad.
  • Enable Universal Control now on both of your devices.

Restart the Universal Control process

On your Mac, restart the Universal Control process to fix your problem. Here is how:

  1. Open Activity Monitor, go to Applications > Utilities.
  2. Using the search field, search for universal.
  3. From the results, click to select Universal Control.
  4. Click the (X) button and then click Quit. If Quit does not work, try Force Quit.
Quit Universal Control

After quitting, try again. Hopefully, one of the steps has helped you address your Universal Control problem.

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Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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