How to use Handoff, what it does, what it doesn’t…
If you’re looking for what might be the most useful built-in feature designed to help those of us using multiple Apple devices get things done, then take a look at Handoff, part of Apple’s Continuity set of features.
What is Handoff?
This built in Apple feature is a useful way to keep on working on something between devices, the difference is that while AirDrop comes into its own for quick and easy file sharing between Apple devices, including those you don’t own, Handoff puts the work you are doing at the center, so you can start working on something on one device and then begin where you left off on another.
You might use it to transfer a report you are working on to your iPhone or iPad if you’re about to leave work to spend a few hours in the voting queue, for example.
It’s different from a server-based asset sharing system as the document or other item you are working on is simply beamed between the devices, rather than being uploaded for the process.
How it works
Handoff means that you can begin working on a project on your Mac and simply grab one of your other devices to start working on that project on that device.
- If you are switching from another Apple device to your Mac then you should look to the left-hand side of your Dock, where you will see an icon appear that denotes the app you have been working on on your other device. You’ll notice that the Dock icon represents the active app and has a small additional icon on its top right to show it is a Handoff item.
- If you are switching from another Apple device to an iOS device then you should open the App Switcher when you should tap the app banner that should appear at the bottom of the screen.
How to enable Handoff
You can use Handoff with any Mac, iPad or iPhone. So long as each device is signed into the same Apple ID, and has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Handoff enabled it will work.
To enabled Handoff on a Mac, open System Preferences and open General, then enable “Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices.”
You enable Handoff on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch in Settings>General>AirPlay and Handoff.
The (really) huge limitation
In order to use this feature you must be using an app that works with Handoff. This includes Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote and some third-party apps, along with Contacts and Calendar – but the one application you really want to use is missing.
Microsoft Office still does not support it, even though the company is working hard to make its suite as Apple-like as possible. Instead, Microsoft insists you use OneDrive to work on projects across devices.
This has been a complaint for many years.
What about Continuity?
Handoff is one of several Continuity features designed to make it easier for you to use your devices productively. Others include:
- Universal Clipboard: Copy something on one device, paste it on another.
- Calls & texts: Make and receive calls and texts.
- Instant hotspot: Use your mobile bandwidth as a LAN.
- Auto-unlock: That thing when you open your Mac with your Watch.
- Continuity Sketch, Camera, Markup: Use your iOS device to enter stuff on your Mac.
- Sidecar: Use your iPad as a second display
- AirDrop: Wireless transfers