The list of things you can do with an iPhone is nearly endless. From browsing the Web to charting stars in the sky, the iPhone is full of possibilities. It should come as little surprise the iPhone can double as a mouse or trackpad for a Mac. It may sound crazy to use a device worth hundreds of dollars as a mouse, but when you are in a pinch, the best tool is the one you have immediately available. Here is how to use your iPhone as a mouse with your Mac.
Using Your iPhone and iPad as a Mouse
There is no shortage of apps available to help take advantage of the “iPhone (or iPad) as a mouse” notion. One of the highly-regarded apps is Mobile Mouse Remote. It’s one of a few dozen apps that pop up online offering similar functionality, yet it has also received the best reviews, with support for the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.
For $1.99, it is quite a steal for the deep feature set. Once you download the app to your iPhone, the rest is incredibly simple. In just a few minutes, you’ll be up and running with your iPhone acting as the most expensive mouse you can ever imagine.
Pairing the iPhone and iPad
Mobile Mouse Remote offers users four different ways to pair up with their Mac computer. The first is unsurprisingly Wi-Fi. This is a great option when you are at home or in an office and have a rock-solid signal. There is a peer-to-peer option, which is the least likely of all four options to be used.
The second most popular option is likely to be Bluetooth. Last, but not least, is connecting the iPhone to the Mac via a USB connection. This eliminates any aspect of using the iPhone as a “wireless mouse,” but in a pinch, it does work this way. Note that any method of connection outside of Wi-Fi requires an in-app purchase of $0.99.
With the software installed on your iPhone or iPad, you now have to download the software to your Mac. Grab the free Mobile Mouse server app and install it on your hard drive. Once you have completed the initial setup, the next time your Mac runs, both devices should automatically pair together if they are on the same Wi-Fi network.
Activating Mouse Functionality
The desktop app for Mobile Mouse rests in your Menu Bar where it waits for you to access your server settings. The app handles most of the backend stuff automatically – this includes configuring your IP and port settings for syncing to your iPhone.
The first time you open the app it will ask you, annoyingly, to give it access to Accessibility on your Mac. We have seen this request time and time again in recent macOS releases, and, while it can be annoying, it is there for our protection as users.
That said, head to “System Preferences -> Accessibility -> Privacy -> Mobile Mouse Server” and click on the box. You may have to uncheck the lock, enter your computer password, then select the mouse app. After that, you can click the lock again as security against other changes.
When you are connected to the computer, verify your connection by going into the server setting on the app. Your computer should appear in the list with a checkmark next to it. You should also see the type of connection you are using in green.
Once you are connected, you can move your mouse around in the same way you would any other wireless mouse. Multitouch is included, so you have access to many of the same multi-finger functions, including pinching in and out for a variety of shortcut functions.
One final note is that you are highly encouraged to use a password with this app, which is enabled via the settings, in the event someone has access to your iPhone without your permission. Consider this your first and only warning!
Alternative App Options
While Mobile Mouse Remote works just fine for utilizing your iPhone and iPad as a mouse, they are not the only options. Remote Mouse is a highly-regarded alternative that is free with in-app purchases. You will get most of the same features as the recommended option above while also receiving a super-handy setup video to ensure everything is working as expected. The app requires a one-time purchase of $0.99 to remove ads while its “Pro” membership option is $1.49 monthly.
Unified Remote is another popular option that not only functions as a mouse for your Mac but essentially turns your smartphone into a universal remote. The app works for both the iPhone and iPad and is pre-loaded with support for more than 90 programs. The free version is somewhat limited, allowing for 18 free remote types, while the in-app $4.99 purchase enables the remainder of the remote options.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will Universal Control in macOS Monterey eliminate the need for these apps ?
No. Universal Control is more about using your existing mouse on the iPad rather than using the iPad as a mouse.
2. Are there privacy concerns with the use of these types of apps?
For the most part, no. Apple’s previous app store updates now include a requirement for the developer to disclose exactly what data is collected on individual users. Unified Remote and Mobile Mouse do not collect data. Remote Mouse tracks data use, which can be used for information on which ads you have seen or your activity in the app.
3. Should I use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to connect both devices?
If you have plenty of bandwidth, Wi-Fi works well enough. Personally, Bluetooth is better and has slightly less latency overall, making it the preferred route for most users.
Using Your iPhone as a Mouse Is Easy
Using your iPhone as a mouse looks and sounds incredibly cool. That is bound to change in a hurry if you start receiving calls or texts which force you to look at the phone. Those “problems” aside, this is yet another entry in the list of “things you did not know your iPhone could do.” In the event you ever need a mouse in a hurry, it is great to know that you have one right there in your pocket.