Apr 14 2015

How to Use Apple’s Handoff Feature

OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 enable users to seamlessly pick up midtask on another device.

Apple’s OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 operating systems offer a cool new feature called Handoff, which allows a user to begin a task on a Mac, iPad or iPhone and finish it on another device.

Handoff improves productivity because it enables users to choose the device that makes the most sense at a given moment. Read on for insight about how to support this feature and help users make the best use of it.


Number of new features contained in Apple OS X Yosemite


Enable Handoff

Handoff must be enabled before it can be used. Verify that a Mac is running OS X Yosemite and that an iPhone or iPad is running iOS 8. Sign on to iCloud using the same Apple ID and turn on Bluetooth.

Once these prerequisites are met, go to the Apple menu on the Mac and click on System Preferences, followed by General. Now, select the “Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud Devices” option. Enabling Handoff on an iOS device works in much the same manner. Go to Settings > General > Handoff and Suggested Apps, and then turn on the Handoff feature.

Switch Between Devices

Users will find the Handoff feature simple and intuitive to use. For example, say you begin drafting an email on a Mac, but want to finish composing it on your iPhone. The phone displays a Handoff icon on the lower left of the lock screen to indicate that the app was previously being used on the Mac. Simply swipe this icon upward to go to the app on the smartphone.

Switching a task from an iOS device to a Mac works similarly. A Handoff icon appears on the left side of the Mac finder — click it to perform the handoff.

Verify Application Support

Handoff is application-specific. Only the application that’s currently in use can be handed off, and the feature doesn’t work with every application.

Handoff works with the following Apple apps: Mail, Safari Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar and Contacts. Apple has also made an API available to commercial developers. A few dozen third-party apps now work with Handoff, including the NYTimes, Wunderlist and Pocket apps.

Use Handoff on an Older Mac

Because Handoff requires Bluetooth 4.0, some older Macs can’t natively use the feature. One trick is to purchase a Bluetooth 4.0 USB adapter and pair it with an app called Continuity Activation Tool 2.0 to use Bluetooth devices for Handoff. Check the Mac compatibility list at github.com/dokterdok/Continuity-Activation-Tool.

Pete Saloutos/ThinkStock

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