Pocket-lint is supported by its readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

(Pocket-lint) - While at WWDC in June 2022 Apple unveiled a new feature in iPadOS 16 and macOS 13 Ventura. Called Stage Manager, it brings the iPad even closer to working as a Mac. Here is everything you need to know about the feature, including when it will be available for you to try on your iPad and Mac.

What is Stage Manager?

Stage Manager is a new software feature for both your Mac and iPad. It automatically organises open apps and windows so you can focus on work and still see everything at a glance.

  • On your Mac, Stage Manager displays your current window prominently in the centre, while all your other open windows will appear on the left-hand side, so you can easily switch between them. You can also group windows when working on different tasks or projects that require different apps.
  • On your iPad, Stage Manager works similarly to how it does on the Mac -  plus it allows you to create overlapping windows of different sizes in a single view.

How does Stage Manager work?

Mac

If you've ever used a Mac, you've probably found yourself with lots of open windows. Luckily, the Mac has tools like Mission Control that make it easier to find the window that you're looking for, but Stage Manager is hoping to level up that experience while also helping you to focus on the app you're using without the distractions.

To activate Stage Manager from a Mac: Go to Control centre. You can find its icon at the top right of the menu bar. (Click on the icon to bring up the feature.) There, you'll see shortcuts to settings such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AiirDrop, Do Not Disturb, Keyboard Brightness, Screen Mirroring, and Stage Manager when it's available. Click on the shortcut to bring it up.

As you'll see, it automatically arranges all your windows off to the side and puts the app you're currently working with front and centre.

When you bring forward a different app while using Stage Manager, like by clicking on Mail in your dock, you'll see that it's brought to the centre stage while the other app you had open will move over to the left with your other recent apps. When you click on a different app, such as Safari, Apple said it "retakes the stage" with Mail moving back to the left.

For an app with multiple open windows, Stage Manager gathers all the windows in a single pile. When you click on it, you'll get the top one. If you want a different window, you can cycle through them just by clicking. You can also have overlapping windows and multiple apps open at the same time. It's also easy to group apps together by dragging and dropping.

No matter how you use Stage Manager, the feature will keep your windows arranged just as you left them, Apple said. You can also get to files on your desktop, swipe away from the experience to see your desktop, and you can grab things from your desktop and drop them where you want them. It's true multitasking, and it's also going to be available to iPad users.

iPad

Apple is bringing Stage Manager to iPadOS. That's right: It's not a MacOS-exclusive feature. 

Currently, when you use apps on iPad, you get the full screen experience. But with Stage Manager activated, you can resize your windows. The dock is visible, so you can easily get to all your apps, but all your recently used apps appear on the left. That makes switching between them really easy. Stage Manager also gives you new layout capabilities. You can work with overlapping windows. Imagine dragging your iMessages alongside Calendar and being able to resize windows and arrange everything just the way you want.

It gets even better when you plug your iPad into an external display. Your wallpaper will fill the entire display. When you move the cursor from the iPad and enter Stage Manager, you will get a bigger canvas with additional screen real estate where you can create groups. You can have up to eight apps running on-screen simultaneously, Apple said. You can also use your Apple Pencil in an app on your iPad and continue working on a Mac, drag and drop across displays, switch between apps fast, and more with full external display support.

Note: Apple hasn't yet clarified how to activate or access Stange Manager on iPad. Stay tuned.

Why is the iPad more like a Mac now?

Simply put: Stage Manager is a feature available to both platforms.

If you can view and interact with your apps on an iPad just like how you do on a Mac - then you are using your tablet just like you'd use your laptop.  It's a major step toward making iPadOS more like macOS. It flattens the learning curve and hassle for users switching between the devices. But some may disagree on whether that's a good thing. Apple itself seems confused about whether it wants to bring macOS to a tablet. It's long resisted doing so, but through major software updates, it's given users many features that bring the two systems closer together.

Having said that, both iPadOS and MacOS are still so two very different platforms.

AppleWhat is Apple Stage Manager and how does it work on your Mac and iPad? photo 2

Which devices can use Stage Manager?

Any Mac capable of running macOS Venture can use Stage Manager, but the story is a little more complicated for iPads. Stage Manager is only available to iPads with the M1 processor. In a new report from Digital Trends, Apple has given an explanation, saying the feature is reserved for M1 iPads due to it using iPadOS 16's memory swap feature:

Best laptop 2022: Top budget and premium notebooks for professionals, students and casual users

"According to Apple, Stage Manager is exclusive to M1 chips because of iPadOS 16's fast memory swap feature - something Stage Manager relies on quite heavily. Similar to what we've seen on Android devices, this process allows apps to convert storage into RAM for more horsepower. Stage Manager allows users to run up to eight apps going at once, some of which can ask for up to 16GB of RAM. In other words, it demands a lot of resources. As such, the new window management feature needs M1 for smooth performance."

So, if you want to use Stage Manager with iPadOS 16, you need a 5th generation iPad Air, 3rd generation 11-inch iPad Pro, or 5th generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

When will Stage Manager be available?

Stage Manager is a new feature coming in the macOS Ventura and iPadOS 16 software updates, which will be available in beta this summer, followed by a public rollout later in 2022.

Writing by Maggie Tillman.