iOS 10 / macOS Sierra tip: copy and paste between devices

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iOS 10 and macOS Sierra introduce a shared “Universal Clipboard”. Now you can copy text or images on your iPhone and paste them on your Mac. Or copy text on your Mac and paste on your iPad or iPhone. In other words, you now have just one clipboard for all of your devices.

Your copied content is shared directly via a secure Bluetooth connection (not through the cloud), so it is very secure and Apple never gets a copy of your copied content.

If you already know how to copy and paste on your iPhone and Mac there is nothing new to learn. The only difference is that all of your devices now share a single clipboard instead of each device having its own. And when you paste across devices you may have a short delay while content is transferred.

In order for it to work all of the following must be true:

  • All devices must be upgraded to at least iOS 10 or macOS Sierra 10.12
  • Your devices must be compatible with Continuity which requires a Bluetooth 4.0 LE chip
  • Your devices must be logged in with the same iCloud account
  • Handoff must be enabled on all devices:
    • iOS: Settings app > General > Handoff
    • macOS: Apple menu > System Preferences > General > Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices
  • Bluetooth and WiFi must be enabled on all devices, though they don’t necessarily need to be on the same WiFi network
  • Your devices must be close enough that the Bluetooth radios can reach each other

The times I find this most useful are when something pops up on my iPhone to ask me for a password. I can copy a password in 1Password on my Mac and then paste on my iPhone without having to switch apps.

If it doesn’t work try disabling handoff and then re-enabling it on all devices. If you don’t see the Handoff setting it means your software or hardware is not compatible.

If you don’t want this feature enabled you will need to turn off Handoff. Unfortunately, there is no option to have only some features of Handoff enabled. You’ll lose the ability to quickly connect to your Personal Hotspot and quickly transfer open items between devices.

For further reading, Apple has an article on the Universal Clipboard feature.

Further Help

If you are an existing customer who needs help with this or if you have other questions, or if you are in San Francisco and interested in becoming a client I invite you to book an appointment with me. Otherwise, you may wish to contact Apple Support or find a local Apple consultant.

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