You can hack macOS 12 Monterey to get its biggest missing feature

WWDC 2021 screenshot
(Image credit: Apple)

At WWDC, macOS 12 Monterey was announced by Apple for its Mac computers, touting Live Text, Shortcuts, and a redesigned Safari browser.

However, one big feature showcased was Universal Control, which allows anyone with a Mac and iPad to drag and drop files seamlessly between the devices, with the iPad acting as a second screen.

But it’s been unavailable since its announcement, with it not appearing in the subsequent public beta releases, and that has led some users to wonder if it will even arrive in macOS 12 Monterey.

However, thanks to some savvy users, a method of enabling the feature has been discovered in the latest public beta, allowing you to give this cool feature a whirl.

How to enable Universal Control

You need to be part of the beta program where you can download and install the latest versions of macOS 12 Monterey first. Once this has been installed on your Mac, download this file from GitHub, and drop it into Library > Preferences > FeatureFlags > Domain.

But if the Library folder isn’t showing in your Finder window, go to your username and at the menu bar, select the ‘Go’ menu and ‘View Options’. There will be an option to display the Library folder.

Library option in View Options within macOS

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Once you’ve restarted your Mac, you should be able to activate the feature in System Preferences > Display, as long as Bluetooth is enabled on both devices and are also connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

This works with Beta 5 of macOS 12 Monterey and above, so as long as you have an iPad running iPadOS 15 or another Mac running the public beta, you can drag and drop files between devices as you wish.

It looks as though Apple only recently implemented the required files for the feature to work in Monterey, which is why this file can enable it.

Analysis: Could Universal Control get the chop?

We’re heading into the final stretch for the development of the new operating system update, with Apple releasing the latest public betas for macOS 12 Monterey (as well as betas for iOS 15 and iPadOS 15), so it’s usually around now where we start to see some features be held back for a future release, as we’ve already seen with SharePlay.

But while a file is required to enable Universal Control, SharePlay could be used on previous beta versions without the need for extra effort. However, SharePlay is now missing in action.

While macOS 12 Monterey brings other substantial updates such as Shortcuts, a new Safari, the ability to AirPlay your iOS device to a Mac and more, Universal Control was given significant airtime at the WWDC conference as a standout feature.

To delay it for a future update may make the announcements in the keynote even more irrelevant, especially with Safari’s design reverting back to iOS 14 than what was originally showcased.

However, when we tried out Universal Control with an M1 Mac mini and a 2018 iPad Pro thanks to the file from GitHub, we experienced no issues. The mouse seamlessly went to the iPad and back, while dragging and dropping an audio file from the Files app into iMovie on the Mac worked as you expected.

It would be surprising to see Universal Control also disappear for the foreseeable as well, but with rumors of new Macs on the horizon, it could be a great feature to showcase what these Macs can do, combined with iPadOS 15.

Via wccftech

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.