A Look at Using Your iPad in Sidecar Mode for Photos Editing

I was curious to see if my iPad mini 5 could be useful in Sidecar mode when working with Photos for macOS Catalina. What I was looking for here is an out-of-the-box experience. I didn't want to buy additional software or learn how to become an illustrator. What I did want to see is if this new Catalina feature would be useful in my existing workflow.

The answer is a qualified "yes."

01-ENABLE-MARKUP.jpg Enabling Markup in the editing mode of Photos.

The positive qualification is for those who use Markup in Photos (which I love!). Beyond using the Retouch brush in editing mode, there isn't much to do yet in Photos when using your iPad as a tablet with the Apple Pencil. But if you go to Markup, everything changes for the better.

02-Enabling-the-iPad-from-within-Markup.jpg Enabling your Apple Pencil from within Markup.

And the cool thing is, it's super easy to do. First, you have to make sure that your hardware is Sidecar enabled. Basically that means you have an iPad that uses an Apple Pencil. (In my case, that's an iPad mini 5.) And you also need a Mac that's essentially 2016 or later. If you have any questions about compatibility, I recommend this "Sidecar" white paper from Apple for reference. Once you have your gear in order, just follow these steps.

  • Launch Photos for macOS Catalina on your Mac, open a picture and go to Edit mode.
  • Turn on your iPad and have your Apple Pencil ready.
  • On your Mac, in Edit mode, click on the Options button (3 dots in a circle) and choose Markup from the list.
  • In Markup on the Mac, look for the little tablet icon in the toolbar, and click on it. Your iPad should show up in the list.
  • Choose your iPad from the popup, and start using your Apple Pencil on the iPad to illustrate your picture.

It's that easy!

03-Choose-Pen-and-Color.jpg Once your Apple Pencil is enabled in Markup, choose the right tip and color, and start having fun.

If anything goes wrong, just refer to the "Sidecar" instructions to get your tablet up and running.

I've always liked Markup in Photos. It's so powerful and fun. But using it with an Apple Pencil and my iPad takes it to a whole new level. Give it a try.

And stay tuned for my upcoming training on LinkedIn Learning and lynda.com titled, Photos for macOS Catalina and iPadOS that shows you all the amazing things you can do with this new software. Hope to release this title in November. Stay tuned! In the meantime, you can watch Photos for macOS Mojave right now.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.