How to Set Up and Use Handoff in OS X Yosemite

Closeup of Handoff icon in Apple dock

A feature I find myself using more and more in OS X Yosemite is Handoff. This feature allows you to hand off tasks between the iPad, iPhone and Mac. You can start writing an email in Mail, browsing a Web page in Safari, or using a variety of other Apple apps on any of your iOS devices and then pass it off to your Mac to pick up later when you’re on your laptop – or vice versa.

This is a great way to connect what you do on various apps between all of your Apple devices, giving you more versatility in how and where you work.

Here’s how to set up and use Handoff in OS X Yosemite.

Handoff Compatibility

First of all, make sure you’ve got the right equipment. Handoff works on the following Mac models and iOS devices, or later: MacBook Pro-2012, MacBook Air-2102, iMac 2012, Mac Mini 2012, and iPhone 5 or later with iOS 8. And of course, your Mac needs to be running OS X Yosemite.

Turn On Handoff on the Mac

Open System Preferences and click on the General tab. Make sure the checkbox next to Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices is checked.

Detail of System Preferences pane, General tab in System Preferences

Activate Handoff in iOS 8

On your iOS 8 device(s), tap Settings > General > Handoff & Suggested Apps. Slide the toggle switch for Handoff to ON.

Note: Make sure you’re running iOS 8 in order to take advantage of this feature on an iPhone 5 or higher.

Handoff & Suggested Apps screen on iPhone

How to Use Handoff Between Devices

Now you should be able to start handing off apps between your Mac and your iOS devices. Since most of this happens automatically as soon as OS X and iOS 8 detect each other, Handoff is pretty easy to use.

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Start typing an email on your iPhone, and an icon will automatically appear on the far left end of your Mac’s Dock. Just click on the icon there and the email will open so you can continue writing it on your laptop right where you left off.

Browse a Web page on your Mac and hand it off to your iPhone and/or iPad. The icon for the app that’s available for handoff will appear in the bottom left corner of the iOS device’s lock screen. Just swipe up on the icon, enter your passcode, and the Web page will open right where you were on your Mac. Even better, start typing a blog post on your laptop and then pass it over to your iPhone or iPad.
iPhone lock screen showing Handoff icon

Besides Safari and Mail, Handoff works with several other apps, including Pages, Numbers, Calendar, Messages and Keynote. Experiment with handing off a few different apps back and forth between devices to get used to how it works. Before you know it, you’ll be wondering how you got along until now without this very “handy” feature!

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