How to enable Apple's Handoff feature between your iOS devices and Mac

Posted:
in iCloud edited April 2015
One of the key features of Continuity across Apple devices is Handoff. Handoff allows Apple's first-party apps and any third party developers to send an app's data seamlessly between devices so you can "pick up where you left off."




For example, start composing an email message on your Mac in OS X Mail and a symbol will appear on your iPhone's lock screen to continue writing on the go. Open a webpage in Safari on your iPhone and a Safari icon will appear in your Mac's Dock to load the same webpage. Or start reading a story in the official AppleInsider app on your iPhone, and quickly continue on your iPad.

Handoff works with Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Maps, Messages, Notes, Reminders, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote as well as any enabled third party apps. Some examples of apps you can try with Handoff are Pocket, Wunderlist, and the NYTimes app.

Of all the Continuity features, Handoff has the most requirements. Devices must use the same iCloud account, be on the same Wi-Fi network, capable of Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), and run iOS 8 or OS X Yosemite. iPhone 5 or later, iPad 4 or later, any iPad mini and iPod touch 5 meet these requirements.

To see if your Mac has Bluetooth LE, go to the  symbol in the menu bar and select About This Mac.




In the new window, click System Report and then Bluetooth in the left-hand column.




On the right you will see Bluetooth Low Energy Supported: and either Yes or No. If Yes, Handoff will work on your Mac, if No, unfortunately Handoff will not. The short list of Macs with Bluetooth LE are: MacBook Air (Mid 2012 and later), MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 and later), iMac (Late 2012 and later), Mac mini (Late 2012 and later), and Mac Pro (Late 2013).




In addition to the hardware and OS requirements, make sure you are signed into the same iCloud account across devices. On iOS, go to Settings > iCloud to see what account is active.




On a Mac, go to System Preferences > iCloud and be sure you are signed in with the same account as your other iOS devices.







Once you have confirmed that the same iCloud account is on all devices, you'll need to enable Handoff. On iOS, go to Settings > General > Handoff & Suggested Apps.




Tap the Handoff slider to the ON position.




On your Mac, go to System Preferences > General.




The second-to-last checkbox is Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices, make sure this is checked.




Handoff should now be enabled across your devices. Remember that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth must be turned on for both your Mac and iOS devices. To test, navigate to any website using the Safari browser on your Mac or begin composing a new email message in OS X Mail.

Once the page is loaded or you begin composing a new email, you should see a small icon in the lower left corner of your iPhone or iPad lock screen.




Swipe up on this icon to unlock your iPhone or iPad and automatically be brought to the respective application with the web page or email from your Mac loaded on your iOS device.

In addition to swiping on the lock screen to activate Handoff, enter multitasking view on your iOS device by double-tapping the home button and swipe all the way to the left. A screen should appear with your most recent active Handoff-enabled application.




If you are using a Handoff application on your iOS device and would like to move onto your Mac, look at the far left (or top depending on Dock location) for the Handoff icon. Click it to open the application you were using on your iPhone or iPad.


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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    rmb0037rmb0037 Posts: 142member
    Handoff generally works great, but the only issue I really have with this sweet continuity feature is the text messaging on the Mac. When the feature is enabled on the iPhone and the security code is put in on the Mac, SMS messages will work only when it wants to...it seems. Idk. Everything else works fantastic though.
  • Reply 2 of 33
    dougddougd Posts: 217member
    Too much integration in my opinion. I def do not want my phone ringing in my computer sheesh !
  • Reply 3 of 33
    rmb0037rmb0037 Posts: 142member
    dougd wrote: »
    Too much integration in my opinion. I def do not want my phone ringing in my computer sheesh !

    See, I am the exact opposite. I love being able to throw my phone on my charger when I get home, sit down at my desk, and finish up anything I was working on and also NOT miss a call. That is the coolest thing to me. And with the ?watch it'll be even easier.
  • Reply 4 of 33
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,224member
    Maybe it's just me, but though I have this enabled on all my devices, I have yet to use it.
  • Reply 5 of 33
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,637member
    Hasn't worked even once for me. Other Continuity features like SMS and phone calls on my Mac work fine, but for app handoff I've never seen an app available for handoff in either direction.
  • Reply 6 of 33
    tiger2tiger2 Posts: 23member



    I've seen and used the little icon on my phone and iPad, but never seen the icon on the dock of my MacBookPro.

  • Reply 7 of 33



    I also own a MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2011), and despite it having bluetooth ble, and it seems all the right hardware, apple won't allow handoff, so I don't see the "Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices

  • Reply 8 of 33

    Any idea why there has to be a BT signal involved? I could use this feature but my iMac is too old, besides I leave BT off on my iOS stuff most of the time.

  • Reply 9 of 33
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,071member
    Any idea why there has to be a BT signal involved? I could use this feature but my iMac is too old, besides I leave BT off on my iOS stuff most of the time.

    That is probably how they coordinate, the Mac and the iOS device. They have to talk back and forth somehow. Would be nice if they could also use wifi if no ble is found.
  • Reply 10 of 33
    kolvaskolvas Posts: 14member
    Haven't gotten it to work even once despite having all the required hardware (iPhone 5c and Macbook Air mid 2012 ) and having gone through all the necessary steps. The only thing that works are the phone calls "handoff".
  • Reply 11 of 33
    kolvaskolvas Posts: 14member

    Haven't gotten it to work even once despite having all the required hardware (iPhone 5c and Macbook Air mid 2012 ) and having gone through all the necessary steps. The only thing that works are the phone calls "handoff".

  • Reply 12 of 33
    bugsnwbugsnw Posts: 708member
    Ah...thank you for this article. Now I know why my iPad 3 won't keep up with SMS text messages. I was trying to create new dual passwords all weekend, thinking maybe Apple's servers were just slow or perhaps there was a bug in the new update.

    Well, I guess I'll be updating my iPad when the newest model comes out in a few months. Is it just me or is the 3rd gen. iPad slowing down over time? ;-)

    I used to be able to watch movies without jitters or the video falling behind the sound. Now it's a jittery, unpleasant experience, whether via Netflix or iTunes.

    What was once a speed demon is now so slow it actually irks me to use it.
  • Reply 13 of 33
    kolvaskolvas Posts: 14member
    Haven't gotten it to work even once despite having all the required hardware (iPhone 5c and Macbook Air mid 2012 ) and having gone through all the necessary steps. The only thing that works are the phone calls "handoff".
  • Reply 14 of 33
    robogoborobogobo Posts: 378member
    Bluetooth LE supported: Yes
    Handoff supported: No

    WTF?: Yes
  • Reply 15 of 33
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,698member
    Off-topic posts about OS X’s spell checker have been moved to [URL=http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/185860/os-x-s-built-in-spell-checker-is-rubbish-discuss]their own thread[/URL].
  • Reply 16 of 33
    dr millmossdr millmoss Posts: 5,403member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rich Gregory View Post

     

    Any idea why there has to be a BT signal involved? I could use this feature but my iMac is too old, besides I leave BT off on my iOS stuff most of the time.




    The strange thing is, my 2007 iMac should not support any of this, and Bluetooth isn't even turned on. Yet a phone call to my iPhone triggers a notification on the iMac. I haven't tried to answer it on the iMac but it seems to me that the notification should not even appear there.

  • Reply 17 of 33
    robogoborobogobo Posts: 378member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bugsnw View Post



    Well, I guess I'll be updating my iPad when the newest model comes out in a few months. Is it just me or is the 3rd gen. iPad slowing down over time? ;-)



    I used to be able to watch movies without jitters or the video falling behind the sound. Now it's a jittery, unpleasant experience, whether via Netflix or iTunes.



    What was once a speed demon is now so slow it actually irks me to use it.

    They all slow down over time.  That's how they get you to buy a new one.  I'm being stubborn as my 1st gen iPad Mini grinds to a halt with each iOS8 update.  Most of the time it's simple things like text entry lagging that absolutely must be by design.  Planned obsolescence.

  • Reply 18 of 33
    tenlytenly Posts: 707member
    robogobo wrote: »
    They all slow down over time.  That's how they get you to buy a new one.  I'm being stubborn as my 1st gen iPad Mini grinds to a halt with each iOS8 update.  Most of the time it's simple things like text entry lagging that absolutely must be by design.  Planned obsolescence.
    Conspiracy theorist much?

    If you could freeze the software load on your iPad 3 such that you only ever ran the software it came with - and the version of 3rd party apps that was current when the iPad 3 was released, it would absolutely be as peppy today as it was when you bought it. The version of iOS that is released with every new version of hardware that comes out is carefully tuned to use as much of the new hardware capabilities as smoothly as possible - and at times, this means that an awesome new feature is NOT released as part of the iOS update because it requires more CPU than is available in the current hardware... But, as more powerful hardware is invented and released, iOS itself, as well as 3rd party apps are improved with additional features and capabilities that make use of that new hardware. Unfortunately, when they try to back-port those features to older hardware, it often doesn't run as smoothly. This is one of the reason why not all of the new features are available on all of the older models. Some devices (2-3 years old) simply don't have the processing power to run some of the new features. With slightly newer hardware (1 year old) there is often "just enough" processing power available to implement the new features - however they may not run quite as smoothly as they do on the newest, current generation of hardware.

    Customers who don't understand hardware/software usually think that any given feature in a new version of iOS was just "thought up" for that version of iOS and that Apple should make it available on all prior hardware devices - but the truth is that many features that are released every year have been in Apples backlog for many years just waiting for the hardware to become powerful enough to implement the feature smoothly.
    It's definitely not "planned obsolescence" and you are never forced to update to the current version of iOS. By choosing to install the latest version of iOS on an older device you are essentially acknowledging that you want the new features and you should be aware that some of them may not run as smoothly as they do on the latest hardware. If keeping your device running as quickly and smoothly as it was when you bought it is important to you - you should take a pass on the iOS updates that are released annually.
  • Reply 19 of 33
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,071member

    I have two first gen mini iPads.   They don't feel much slower.   Subjective, yes, but they work just fine.    My son also uses an old 4S with iOS 8 and it is also fairly decent for being 4.5 years old running the latest iOS.   I don't see any planned obsolescence in Apples products. 

  • Reply 20 of 33
    krawallkrawall Posts: 155member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rich Gregory View Post

     

    Any idea why there has to be a BT signal involved? I could use this feature but my iMac is too old, besides I leave BT off on my iOS stuff most of the time.


    The hint is in the name: Bluetooth Low Energy.

     

    For sure they could do it via Wifi but that would be consuming too much energy.

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