Handoff in OS X Yosemite makes it easy to transition between your Mac, iPhone & iPad

Posted:
in macOS edited November 2014
This week's launch of OS X Yosemite enables Mac users to tap into the Handoff function introduced last month with iOS 8, making it simple to jump back and forth between a Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Here's how to set up Handoff and use it.




As with other Continuity features between iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, users must be signed into the same iCloud Apple ID on their devices for data to be automatically shared between them. In addition, Bluetooth must be enabled, but the devices do not need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network (a previous version of this story reported otherwise).

To transition from an iPhone or iPad to a Mac, make sure that the iOS 8 device is unlocked and that the content desired to be handed off is active. For example, have a website open on your unlocked iPhone before moving to your Mac.




Whatever content is open on the iPhone will be displayed in the form of an icon on the far left side of the OS X Yosemite dock. The respective application's icon will be displayed, along with a small black-and-white indicator showing either an iPhone or iPad.

The same also works in reverse, from a Mac to an iPhone. For example, open the Maps application on your Mac running OS X Yosemite and select a destination.




With the Maps application still open and selected on your Mac, a locked iPhone screen will display the appropriate icon's application in the bottom left corner. Simply swipe the icon upward to automatically launch the application along with the associated data -- in this case, a destination in Maps.

If your iPhone is already unlocked and being used, you do not need to lock it to access data from Handoff. The same information can be accessed by double-pressing the home button to bring up the multitasking view, and then scrolling to the left past the home screen to find a tile representing the content open on the Mac.




Handoff works with Apple's native apps for Mail, Safari, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, Contacts, Pages, Numbers and Keynote. Third-party applications can also add support for Handoff using Apple's developer tools.

Using Handoff, users can start a document, email or message on one device, and quickly pick up where they left off on another.

Handoff can be enabled on an iOS 8 device by launching the Settings application, choosing General, and then "Handoff & Suggested Apps."

To toggle the feature in OS X Yosemite, open System Preferences on your Mac, choose General, and check or uncheck "Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices."

Some users have reported difficulty in getting Handoff to work after updating to OS X Yosemite. It's been said that logging out of an iCloud account and then logging back in on all devices helps to resolve the issue.

Handoff requires an iPhone 5 or newer; a mid-2012 or newer MacBook Air or MacBook Pro; an iMac or Mac mini made since late 2012; or a late 2013 Mac Pro. It also works with a fourth-generation iPad or newer, any iPad mini model, or a fifth-generation iPod touch.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    Handoff is working for SOME of my apps. I cannot get it to work for any of my iWork apps though I have all the latest updates and compatible hardware. It does work for notes, safari, mail, etc, as well as making and receiving phone calls and texts.
  • Reply 2 of 36
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,397member
    I thought I read this somewhere, and then I remembered reading this very article on 9to5mac, almost verbatim, a few hours ago:

    http://9to5mac.com/2014/10/17/handoff-yosemite-ios-8/

    Anyhoo, as far as I udnerstand it, Handoff requires BT4LE, and this article would be informative if it were to state so.

    Edit: un-autocorrupt
  • Reply 3 of 36
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,103member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    I thought I read this somewhere, and then I remembered reading this very article on 9to5mac, almost verbatim, a few hours ago:



    http://9to5mac.com/2014/10/17/handoff-yosemite-ios-8/



    Anyhoo, as far as I udnerstand it, Handoff requires BT4LE, and this article would be informative if it were to state so.



    Edit: un-autocorrupt

    Yes. This entire functionality will not work on a great many number of macs that will run Yosemite, but lack the BT4LE built in hardware (as is the case with my late 2009 iMac.)

     

    Dongles are reported to not currently function. This doesn't mean they might be made to work in the future by enterprising terminal savvy users.

  • Reply 4 of 36
    Have you forgotten that Handoff requires a Mac with Bluetooth LE? Otherwise the option will not appear in the General preference pane.

    Peace,
    Gene
  • Reply 5 of 36
    Learned today that saving a pages (numbers, keynote) document in draft to iCloud Drive is required for handoff of those documents to work with an iOS 8 device.

    Also found that wifi calling, a T-Mobile feature to call using wifi, may also need to be turned off if you are a T-Mobile iPhone 6/plus user.
  • Reply 6 of 36
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,397member
    eightzero wrote: »
    Yes. This entire functionality will not work on a great many number of macs that will run Yosemite, but lack the BT4LE built in hardware (as is the case with my late 2009 iMac.)

    Dongles are reported to not currently function. This doesn't mean they might be made to work in the future by enterprising terminal savvy users.

    It baffles me that this site isn't giving its readers solid info on which machines this added functionality works, since it's the topic of the freaking article. Oh, AI, why are you such a crap site? The only valuable info has to come from the forum members!

    Have you forgotten that Handoff requires a Mac with Bluetooth LE? Otherwise the option will not appear in the General preference pane.

    Peace,
    Gene

    Have you forgotten to first read a thread before posting?
  • Reply 7 of 36
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 743editor

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    I thought I read this somewhere, and then I remembered reading this very article on 9to5mac, almost verbatim, a few hours ago:

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    It baffles me that this site isn't giving its readers solid info on which machines this added functionality works, since it's the topic of the freaking article. Oh, AI, why are you such a crap site? The only valuable info has to come from the forum members!

    Have you forgotten to first read a thread before posting?



    I added a list of compatible Macs and iOS devices to the last paragraph. I do appreciate the input. However, complaining about having previously read a general, helpful tip elsewhere on another site is not what I would consider "valuable information" contributing to the conversation here, so I'd ask that you refrain from it in the future. Thanks.

  • Reply 8 of 36
    Certainly I can see my browser history across devices. However, I have no idea how to "hand off" an emal.
  • Reply 9 of 36
    With regards to having a newer Mac: Does anyone know why apple did that? It seems like they used a technology they knew a lot of people wouldn't have and then used it as one of their main features in continuity? Now Apple has been well known to do this but this seems very extreme and is going to make a lot of people very annoyed.
  • Reply 10 of 36
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,741member

    Was just about to post that if your Mac doesn't meet the required Bluetooth spec, you're screwed in terms of Handoff (but not necessarily in terms of other features under the "Continuity" Umbrella, like SMS relay and Phone relay, etc.)

     

    It's really too bad, but Bluetooth moves forward as well. What's a bit disappointing is that the spec happens to be included in only 2012 Macs and up. 

     

    That's 2012 and later, folks, believe it or not.

     

    It seems a little too exclusionary, but at least other Continuity features will be available.

  • Reply 11 of 36
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,103member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

     

    Was just about to post that if your Mac doesn't meet the required Bluetooth spec, you're screwed in terms of Handoff (but not necessarily in terms of other features under the "Continuity" Umbrella, like SMS relay and Phone relay, etc.)

     

    It's really too bad, but Bluetooth moves forward as well. What's a bit disappointing is that the spec happens to be included in only 2012 Macs and up. 

     

    That's 2012 and later, folks, believe it or not.

     

    It seems a little too exclusionary, but at least other Continuity features will be available.


    I get that the technology to male it work wasn't available until then. But I am curious to know whether or not the system was purposely built to prohibit the use of dongles for the sole reason that AAPL wishes you to buy their upgraded hardware. Sure, you can justify it my say it is easier to do with on board BT4LE, but if no technical reason exists to allow dongle compatible add-ons...well...that'd be disappointing.

  • Reply 12 of 36
    irelandireland Posts: 17,380member

    It's being unreliable to me to the point of not functioning.

  • Reply 13 of 36
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,027member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by eightzero View Post

     

    I get that the technology to male it work wasn't available until then. But I am curious to know whether or not the system was purposely built to prohibit the use of dongles for the sole reason that AAPL wishes you to buy their upgraded hardware. Sure, you can justify it my say it is easier to do with on board BT4LE, but if no technical reason exists to allow dongle compatible add-ons...well...that'd be disappointing.


     

    1. Very few people would buy and connect a bluetooth 4.0 dongle simply for handoff. 

    2. It probably is not worth it for Apple to test and make sure that handoff works on 500 different bluetooth adapters. Waste of resources and time. 

    3. If they advertise this as an option, and there's reliability issues (which there would be, obviously) then the blame will fall on Apple. Better to just bypass that scenario altogether.

    5. Yes, I'm sure Apple wouldn't mind the extra upgrades. But I doubt this was their primary motivation. It comes down to what benefit they believed they would get by spending engineering resources testing compatibility with a myriad of devices, etc. The answer- practically nil. 

     

    If you have a 2011 or earlier Mac, that's almost 4 years old. It's reasonable to expect that there's 1-2 things it can't do, that the latest Macs with a just released OS taking advantage of the latest hardware can. 

  • Reply 14 of 36
    nhughes wrote: »
    I added a list of compatible Macs and iOS devices to the last paragraph. I do appreciate the input. However, complaining about having previously read a general, helpful tip elsewhere on another site is not what I would consider "valuable information" contributing to the conversation here, so I'd ask that you refrain from it in the future. Thanks.

    I'm sorry nhughes, I thought the article was a copy from that other site, hence my whining. And that was wrong of me.

    Thank you for adding the compatible HW models to the article, that is indeed very helpful.
  • Reply 15 of 36
    That's great that handoff doesn't work on my late 2011 27" iMac, but could I at least have Messages back? It worked perfectly fine on Mavericks.
  • Reply 16 of 36

    I can see that most people didn't notice that not every Mac with BT4LE is compatibile with Handoff (according to Apple). 

    I have a Mid-2011 MB Air and it has BT4LE but the system report says it does not support Handoff !!! 

    I ask WHY?

     

    The best thing is that it works with Handoff because some guy have found a way to enable it by changing the driver kext (changing the supported models list).

    It is clear that Mid-2011 MB Air is blocked by Apple only artificially which is very dissapointing!!! 

  • Reply 17 of 36
    nhughes wrote: »
    philboogie wrote: »
    It baffles me that this site isn't giving its readers solid info on which machines this added functionality works, since it's the topic of the freaking article. Oh, AI, why are you such a crap site? The only valuable info has to come from the forum members!

    Have you forgotten to first read a thread before posting?


    I added a list of compatible Macs and iOS devices to the last paragraph. I do appreciate the input. However, complaining about having previously read a general, helpful tip elsewhere on another site is not what I would consider "valuable information" contributing to the conversation here, so I'd ask that you refrain from it in the future. Thanks.

    Yeah, Phil's got some petty agenda against AI and tends to constantly quote other Apple sites. I'm sure he'll grow out of it one day.
  • Reply 18 of 36
    quadra 610 wrote: »
    Was just about to post that if your Mac doesn't meet the required Bluetooth spec, you're screwed in terms of Handoff (but not necessarily in terms of other features under the "Continuity" Umbrella, like SMS relay and Phone relay, etc.)

    It's really too bad, but Bluetooth moves forward as well. What's a bit disappointing is that the spec happens to be included in only 2012 Macs and up. 

    <strong style="line-height:1.4em;">That's 2012 and later</strong>
    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">, folks, </span>
    believe<span style="line-height:1.4em;"> it or not.</span>


    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">It seems a little too exclusionary, but at least other Continuity </span>
    features will be available.

    Yes; kind of ironic that it's called Continuity, when it breaks continuity with all Macs older than two years.
  • Reply 19 of 36
    I'd like Handoff and the features of it, but there's a Standoff between Apple and my wallet.
  • Reply 20 of 36
    Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

    ...when it breaks continuity with all Macs older than two years.



    In what way does it do that?

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