How to Use Handoff With OS X Yosemite & iOS 8

Lego figures posed as relay runners doing handoff

So you’re working on a file on your Mac and you need to head out the door. If you wanted to read or work on that file away from your computer, you could save the document to a cloud service like Dropbox or iCloud Drive, then navigate to that location on your iPhone or iPad and open the file back up again. But this takes time, and what if it doesn’t save correctly?

Even better, wouldn’t it be nice if you could take the partially written email and finish it on your phone? Or start an email on your phone and finish it on your Mac so you could easily add images and formatting from a traditional keyboard?

With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, these options are all possible using a feature called Handoff. You just need to meet a few basic requirements and tweak some settings, and it’s off to the races with a nearly seamless integration of iOS 8 and Yosemite. Here’s how.

RELATED: How to Change Up the iOS 8 Sharing Panel

Basic Handoff Requirements

Before getting too far into this, you need to make sure you have the necessary hardware and software to use Handoff. First, you need to be running the latest version of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8. With the software part under control, let’s look at the hardware requirements.

Handoff works by utilizing Bluetooth 4.0, so as long as your Mac and iOS device can use it, you’re good to go. Just about every iOS device that can upgrade to iOS 8 (except for the iPad 2) has Bluetooth 4.0, so you’re most likely set there.

Your Mac might be a different story. Instead of looking at the somewhat vague listing of compatible devices, here’s a quick and easy way to test.

Click on the Apple logo in the OS X menu bar. Then hold down the Option button on your keyboard and click on System Information, which should appear at the top of the menu. In the window that appears, click on the Bluetooth tab. If you see “LMP Version” listed as 0x6, your Mac has Bluetooth 4.0 and you’re good to go. If the number is lower than this, you’re out of luck for Handoff.
Bluetooth tab of System Information window in OS X Yosemite

So, assuming you’re able to use Handoff, here’s how to get it going.

You need to make sure of the following:

  • All devices using Handoff must be on the same Wi-Fi network.
  • Bluetooth must be turned on for all devices using Handoff.
  • Must be signed in to the same iCloud account on all devices.
  • Both the sending and receiving devices must be powered on and unlocked to receive and send Handoff applications successfully.

Note: When setting this up for the first time, I noticed I had to restart my iPad and iPhone and turn Bluetooth off/on to get everything to register correctly. You probably want to do this, too.

When you hand an application off from one device to another, Handoff closes the app on the original device, so it can only be worked on with one device at a time.

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Setting Up Handoff in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8

First things first, let’s set up Handoff on your iOS device.

1. Open up Settings and tap on Bluetooth. Make sure this is turned on, then go back to the main Settings screen.

2. Next, go to General > Handoff & Suggested Apps. Make sure Handoff is turned ON.

3. Finally, make sure you’re signed into the same iCloud account on your iOS device as you are on your Mac. Back up to the main Settings screen and scroll down to the iCloud menu. Look at the email address listed. If it’s the same one on your Mac, then you’re all done with the iOS device.

Next, let’s get Handoff working on your Mac.

4. Click on the Apple menu and select System Preferences.

5. Click on General and verify that the box next to Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices is checked.

General tab of System Preferences window in OS X Yosemite

Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to see Handoff in action and give it a try.

SEE ALSO: 5 Simple Ways to Better Secure Your Mac

Using Handoff for OS X Yosemite and iOS 8

One great use for Handoff is starting an email on one device and finishing it on another. Let’s say you started an email on your phone and it’s just too long to finish there. You can get up, head over to your Mac, and finish typing exactly where you left off.

If you’re picking up on an iOS device, there are two ways to see the Handoff application. First, if your screen is locked there should be a small icon in the bottom left corner. Just swipe it up to unlock it. The second method is to double-click the Home button on the device to launch the App Switcher. Here, swipe to the right so you move one space to the left past your home screen. You should see the app and the location being handed off from.

If you’re picking up an app on your Mac from one of your iOS devices, you can access the Handoff application from a small addition to the OS X Dock. If your Dock is at the bottom of your screen, it will be on the far left.

Closeup of Handoff feature on Apple Dock in OS X Yosemite

Clicking on this icon will hand the app off from the iOS device to your Mac.

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