Sal Soghoian Reveals macOS's Hidden Custom Control Panels

Originally published at:

At MacTech Conference, automation guru Sal Soghoian gave a talk in which he revealed how, with the addition of just a Luna Display dongle, anyone can use built-in macOS accessibility features to turn an iPad into a touch-sensitive custom controller for the Mac.

Sal was also on the Automators podcast talking about this same idea:

Walter Ian Kay tells me that in Sierra, Panel Editor can be found in System Preferences > Accessibility > Switch Control. I don’t know if everything else will work equivalently, but it sounds like the basics are there for people using older versions of macOS.

Does this only work with Luna or will it work with Duet Display as well?

The key question is if Duet Display lets you tap controls on the iPad screen. If so, it should work fine. Sidecar only lets you tap with the Apple Pencil, so it’s a non-starter.

Duet does not require the Apple Pencil. You can tap with your finger.

Duet does not require the Apple Pencil. You can tap with your finger.

Yep, I got it working once Duet was set up to control my computer in Security & Privacy. But when I press a button on the custom control panel, it moves my cursor to where I touched. That’s pretty disruptive. Is that how it works with Luna as well? I wonder if there’s a way to keep the cursor from moving.

There goes the weekend…

Sal lists an iPad pro as one of the components for creating a panel. In the article it is suggested that other (earlier) models would work too. Does anybody know which iPads would be able to do this?