How to Use Handoff in macOS

Handoff is a useful new feature. With Handoff, you can start writing an email on your iPhone or other iOS device and you can pick up where you left off on your Mac; or put together a report in Pages on your Mac and add the finishing touches with your iPad on the train to work. Here’s how to set up and use the Handoff feature.

Setting Up Handoff

1 – To use the feature, iOS devices must be running iOS 8 or later and no older than an iPhone 5, iPad (4th generation), iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad mini with Retina display or iPod touch (5th generation). Macs must be running the Yosemite operating system or later.

2 – Your devices must also be logged into the same iCloud account. On an iOS device, open Settings and tap ‘Sign in to your iPad/iPhone’ and sign in. If you’re already signed in but need to use a different account, scroll all the way down and tap Sign Out.

3 – On your Mac, open System Preferences (from the Apple menu or Dock). From there, click on iCloud (middle row, left-hand side). Sign in using your Apple ID and password. Again, if you need to sign out and use a different account, there’s a link.

4 – Turn on Handoff. In System Preferences, click General (top left corner) and switch on the option titled Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices. On an iOS device, go to Settings > General > Handoff. Switch on the Handoff option. If it’s missing, your device is too old.

Using macOS and iOS Handoff

1 – If you have a document open on your Mac and want to continue to work on it on an iOS device, the app you were using on your Mac is placed in the iOS Dock and badged. Here you see the Safari app on an iPad, badged for Handoff.

2 – Tap the badged icon and the app opens, with the document, web page or other such item you were looking at on your Mac opening automatically. In Safari, as seen here, it opens in a new tab and doesn’t close whatever you were looking at last time you used your iOS device.

3 – To pick up a document on your MacBook using Handoff, go to the Dock, and on the left, you’ll see an app icon badged with the device on which you last edited the document in question. Click on it to launch the app and open the document.

4 – Or use the App Switcher. Hold CMD and press the tab key to summon it. Keep tapping tab to cycle through your open apps. Again, if a Handoff document is available, it’s shown here with the icon for the app that created it badged with the device it was last edited on.

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Ian Osborne

Ian has worked on computer and video games magazines since the legendary Crash and Zzap! 64 in the early Nineties, so he’s seen many changes over the years (including an expanding waistline and receding hairline). A lifelong Mac user, he bought his first Mac in the year 2000. It’s a testament to the resilience of the Mac that his mother is still using that computer to this very day.

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