How to use Sidecar with Parallels Desktop for Mac

The feature Sidecar was first introduced in macOS Catalina and is also available now in macOS Big Sur.

Sidecar enables you to use an iPad as a secondary screen on your Mac. With Parallels Desktop® for Mac and Sidecar, you can even run Windows Apps on your iPad. Figure 1 shows a midway step in moving a small window to the iPad screen.

Before Sidecar was released, I had been using a Sidecar-like feature (Luna Display). I thought the idea of a small, secondary display for my iMac would be useful, but I vastly underestimated how useful it turned out to be. Because I could put status dialogs (“Now downloading. 58 minutes remaining.”) on the iPad, I did much less window management on my big screen and got more work done. I got used to this extra screen space really quickly—so much so that I really miss that small display when I’m travelling.

So while Parallels Desktop was being developed, we made sure Sidecar worked well with both the main VM windows, with Picture-in-Picture views of a running VM, with the Control Center and with the configuration dialogs and preference windows of Parallels Desktop. And because you can mix Mac applications with Windows applications when in Coherence mode, we tested that, too.

Setting Up Sidecar

To use Sidecar, you need the following:

When you have all this, the new Sidecar System Preference will enable you to start up Sidecar, as seen near the beginning of Video 1.

Using Sidecar and Windows apps with Parallels Desktop

There are many ways you can use Sidecar with Parallels Desktop. Put the VM configuration window on the small display; put the Control Center window on the small display; put some Mac windows on the small display when you use your VM in Full Screen view mode; and many others.

One of the more interesting is to move your Windows 10 VM to Sidecar and then enable Tablet Mode in Windows 10, as shown in Figure 1.

Sidecar Windows
Figure 1_Moving a window to the Sidecar display

Let us know in the comments about your experiences with Sidecar and other macOS features.

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