Written by Kaylee Wood | Last update: November 16, 2020 | 5 Mins Read
"Any solution? Still have the same problem with iPad and Sidecar on my MacBook 16' after the official release of Big Sur. Yesterday with Catalina this worked just fine." - Apple Developer Forums user
Like Duet Display and Luna Display, Apple announced its own remote display method called Sidecar in WWDC 2019. With it, you can Sidecar mirroring Mac Catalina and Big Sur to iPadOS in wired or wireless way. However, macOS Catalina/Big Sur Sidecar not working error would be a case of high probability because of the improper operations. Also, the Sidecar on macOS Big Sur is still new as of now that it is inevitable to encounter Sidecar not working or not showing up problem on your Mac Catalina/Big Sur or iPadOS, but only get the error message " You can't open the 'Sidecar' preferences pane because it is not available to you at this time. To see this preferences pane, you may need to connect a device to your computer", " A miscellaneous error occurred (-401)", " Device timed out" or " Unable to Connect to iPad".
Therefore, this guide will try to offer the best solution to this kind of error when you want to successfully Sidecar mirroring macOS Catalina/Big Sur to iPadOS.
Disappointingly, Sidecar only allows you to mirror Mac to iPad rather than the other way around. So, if you want to screen mirroring iPadOS to macOS Big Sur/Catalina, you have to turn to a third-party tool. 5KPlayer is an ideal AirPlay mirroring server that allows for screen mirroring iPadOS to Mac Big Sur/Catalina wirelessly without trouble.
What is Sidecar?
Sidecar is a brand new remote display method that makes iPad the second Mac display and mirrors Mac to iPad to have the two screens displaying the same content. Without any app needed to load either on the Mac or the iPad, you can do operations on your iPad that you usually do on your Mac. To use Sidecar between Mac and iPad, you need two basic things: an iPad running iPadOS (13 or 14) and a Mac running macOS 10.15 Catalina or macOs 11 Big Sur.
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As Sidecar feature is quite new, Sidecar not working/not showing up error may happen to some of you. So, here we gather all possible solutions to this kind of problem for your reference. BTW, if you are unfamiliar with macOS Big Sur Sidecar fetaure and don't know where to find it, you can simply type 'Sidecar' into the search function and the control appears on screen.
1. Update your macOS Catalina to Big Sur may help
Someone in the Apple Developer Forums had reported that he dealt with the cannot connect Mac to iPad problem by after upgrading to macOS Big Sur and some easy operations. He is using 2018 MBP (Big Sur official) and iPad Pro 12.9 3rd Gen (14.2).
• Go to iPad bluetooth settings and connect to MacBook through Bluetooth.
• After his iPad Pro 3rd Gen showed up but gave error when trying to connect to Sidecar.
• He disconnected MacBook Pro from the iPad bluetooth settings.
• Restarted MacBook.
• On restart iPad Pro still showed in display settings and when I went to connect it worked.
2. Sidecar won't work because the distance is too long
You can enable Sidecar mirroring between macOS Catalina/Big Sur and iPadOS in a wired or wireless way. If your supported iPad is within 10 meters of your supported Mac, you can connect the two devices with a Lightning or USB-cable, or through Bluetooth. BTW, to use Sidecar over USB, make sure that your iPad is set to trust your Mac. If the distance is longer, it is impossible to make the two connect to each other, and thus Sidecar not mirroring error happens. Also make sure that the iPad is not sharing its cellular connection and the Mac is not sharing its Internet connection.
3. Your Mac won't mirror to iPad because you didn't log into the same iCloud account
Also a basic requirement, your Mac Catalina/Big Sur and iPadOS need to be logged into the same iCloud account to make the Sidecar work between them.
Log in with the same Apple ID > enable two-factor authentication on both iPad and Mac > activate the Bluetooth on both devices and make sure they are under the same WiFi network.
If you connect your iPad to Mac with cable, just wait for your Mac to recognize your iPad and then Trust the device and enter a PIN if asked.
4. Sidecar not working or not showing up because of the incompatible Mac and iPad devices
Sidecar feature on macOS Catalina/Big Sur is limited to many of Apple's new Macs, only some of them support Sidecar. At present, Sidecar is available to iMac 27 (Late 2015) or newer, MacBook Pro (2016) or newer, Mac Mini (2018), Mac Pro (2019), MacBook Air (2018) or newer, MacBook (Early 2016) or newer, iMac Pro (2017) or newer, 2020 new MacBook Air, 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro, and 2020 Mac mini.
As for iPad models, we are not clear if all the iPad devices will work with macOS Catalina/Big Sur Sidecar. Luckily, we know that iPadOS is the basic thing to Sidecar mirroring, and iPadOS will surely run on types of iPad models. However, Apple has decided to restrict Sidecar only to iPads with Apple Pencil support according to the latest news. That is to say, only iPads shipped with iPadOS 13 or 14 and with Apple Pencil support will allow for Sidecar mirroring from Mac to iPad. The devices include iPad (6th generation) or newer, iPad (7th generation), iPad mini 5 or newer, iPad Air (3rd generation or newer) and iPad Pro (all generations).
Therefore, if your devices are not included in the list mentioned above, probably the Sidecar won't work between macOS Catalina/Big Sur and iPadOS or even Sidecar option won't show up.
5. If your iPad doesn't show up in the AirPlay list on Mac, Sidecar not working error happens
Commonly, by clicking on the AirPlay icon in the upper right corner of your Mac's Menu bar, you can select your iPad to display your Mac contents. However, even when your iPad is hardwired to your Mac, there may be no iPad option in the AirPlay list for Sidecar mirroring. You can try to manually fix the Sidecar not showing up problem by following the method:
1. Open Settings on your Mac.
2. Click on Sidebar.
3. Click on Devices under Connect to.
4. Select your iPad from the dropdown menu.
Worth mentioning, you are highly suggested to plug your iPad into your Mac as Sidecar not working error often occurs when connecting iPad and Mac via Bluetooth.
6. Sidecar is not working for your apps
From Apple official site, there are a few apps that support Sidecar mirroring from macOS Catalina/Big Sur to iPadOS as of now. The Sidecar supported apps include Adobe: After Effects, Illustrator, Premiere Pro; Affinity Designer & Affinity Photo; Cinema 4D; CorelDRAW; DaVinci Resolve; Final Cut Pro & Motion; Maya; Painter; Principle; Sketch; Substance Designer & Painter; and ZBrush. So, if you can't use Mac apps on an iPad, the possible reason would be the incompatible app.
To sum up, Sidecar mirroring is a unidirectional way, namely, you can only Sidecar mirroring Mac to iPad rather than mirroring iPad to Mac, because Sidecar is controlled by a new feature on macOS Catalina/Big Sur rather than the iPad using iPadOS. If you want to screen mirroring iPadOS to Mac, you can try 5KPlayer.
5KPlayer – Best Tool to Screen Mirroring iPadOS to Mac Catalina/Big Sur & Windows 10
5KPlayer is a great AirPlay server that allows for iPadOS screen mirroring and iOS 13 AirPlay mirroring to macOS Catalina/Big Sur or earlier and Windows 10, thus you can beam your iOS and iPadOS full screen to computer to have a better view experience. In case needed, 5KPlayer also offers continuity screen mirroring from Mac/PC to Mac/PC/Apple TV.
BTW, 5KPlayer is not only a screen mirroring tool, but also a great media player for macOS Catalina/Big Sur to play high-res 4K, 5K, 6K and even 8K videos successfully. Also, download online videos music to your Catalina/Big Sur Mac or iPad with 5KPlayer is feasible, and DLNA streaming video music from Mac to smart TV is a piece of cake.
In the final words, hope this guide is helpful for solving Sidecar not working/not showing up between macOS Catalina/Big Sur and iPadOS.
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