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I have a 2018 iPad Pro and a recent MacBook Pro (with USB C). Is there any way I can control what charges what when I connect the two? If I connect the two with a USB-C charger, my MacBook automatically starts charging my iPad. Can I have it work the other way around? Can I have it not transfer power, and just be used to transfer data (like for Sidecar)?

This poses a more general question about USB-C: How can you control what direction power goes? I have a USB-C Battery that automatically charges my laptop or iPad when I plug it in, but as soon as the battery dies, the MacBook/iPad will start charging the battery!

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While the iPad Pro can charge other devices off of it, including other iPad Pro devices, I see no indication that charging a device like a MacBook is possible.

I don't see any feature in which you can disable power transfer while connected via USB-C, like while using Sidecar in a wired configuration.

Apple does have instructions on how to charge another iPad Pro from the iPad Pro, including how to select which iPad Pro charges which:

If you have two iPad Pro models with USB-C ports, you can connect them directly with a USB-C cable. One iPad Pro will draw power from the other. If you want to change which iPad Pro charges, unplug the USB-C cable and then reconnect them.

You could try the above with your MacBook and iPad Pro, but it's unclear if that would work.

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