Thursday, January 20

The latest beta version of macOS Monterey adds limited and unofficial support for Universal Control

macOS Monterey will be fully released this fall, though many of its new features are already available to check in pre-release form if you’re willing to install the public beta. However, Universal Control is one of the most interesting parts of this software update, and it wasn’t in the macOS Monterey beta – until now.

Thanks to developer Zhuowei Zhang (via MacRumors) We now know that there is a version of Universal Control with limited functionality in macOS Monterey beta 5. But activating it requires you to fiddle with your Mac’s system files.

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But while the final version of Universal Control will supposedly allow you to use the same keyboard and mouse to control and move work between multiple Apple devices, the current version only works with Macs running macOS Monterey beta. And it’s not intended for public use yet, as Zhang had to manipulate a code to activate it.

Universal Control will supposedly allow you to use a keyboard and mouse on multiple Apple devices, as well as seamlessly drag and drop media between them. (Image credit: Apple | YouTube)

When Universal Control works as intended, Apple claims that it should allow you to place an iPad near your macOS Monterey device (a new Apple iMac 2021, for example) and move the mouse to the edge of the screen closest to the external device, thereby ‘I’ll see a new animation of the cursor. If you keep pressing the cursor against the edge of the screen, it should move and appear on your iPad screen, allowing you to use the mouse and keyboard on the tablet. This should allow you to use your mouse and keyboard on multiple Apple devices, and even drag and drop files between them.

With Universal Control, you will see a small animation that breaks boundaries when you move the cursor near a device that it can be used with. (Image credit: Apple | YouTube)

It’s perhaps the most futuristic new feature in macOS Monterey, and Zhang managed to get a limited version to work that allows you to share a mouse and keyboard between Macs running macOS Monterey beta 5. He has posted the files and instructions you’ll need to do the same. . on his Github page, and he took to Twitter to post a video of the feature in action along with a cautionary note that “not very reliable however; it took a whole day before it suddenly started working. “

How to enable Universal Control in macOS Monterey beta 5

First, a note of caution: this method seems to work only on Macs from 2016 or later, with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on. Also, enabling this unofficial limited version of Universal Control on macOS Monterey beta 5 will involve changing some settings and modifying some files on your Mac. While it probably won’t compromise anything, it’s always a good idea to back up your Mac. before trying something like this. You can use Apple’s Time Machine service or a reputable third-party service like Backblaze. Our guide to the best cloud storage solutions offers even more recommendations for you.

Once you’re ready to try Universal Control, download the Ensemble.plist file from Zhang’s Github page and move it to / Library / Preferences / FeatureFlags / Domain / folder on your Mac. If the folder doesn’t already exist, create it yourself.

You may also need to disable System Integrity Protection in order to play with these files. To do that, first restart your Mac in recovery mode, open the Utilities menu, and run Terminal. From there, write csrutil disable and hit Enter, then restart your Mac. Once you’re done trying this Universal Control hack, re-enable SIP by following the same steps and typing enable csrutil when you start Terminal in recovery mode. Restart your Mac again and everything should be fine.

Once you have successfully placed the Ensemble file in the Domain folder (so it is located in /Library/Preferences/FeatureFlags/Domain/Ensemble.plist) you should be able to restart your Mac and start playing with Universal Control on nearby Macs, although you may first need to link your main mouse and keyboard to nearby Macs by selecting them under Pair the mouse and keyboard section of the Add screen system menu, accessible by going to System Preferences> Displays> Add Display.

This version of the universal control function seems very limited. In addition to not working on anything other than Mac, it currently won’t let you drag and drop files between devices. Still, if you can make it work, you can glimpse the glorious future of multiple Macs for those upgrading to macOS Monterey.

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