Just what is Apple’s Handoff and how to use it across your iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch and Mac

Apple products are known for their ease of use. I’ve witnessed two years old pick up an iPhone, unlock it and start watching videos. I’ve witnessed my father, a non-techie person learn how to use his iPhone in a matter of minutes and almost never asks for help. Apple products just work. One of the coolest features built into its software is called Handoff. If you start something on one of your devices – iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or any Mac computer – you can pick up exactly where you left off on any other of your connected devices. For example, if you are looking at a webpage on your iPad, you can pick up where you left off on your Macbook Pro. Handoff is compatible with a wide variety of Apple apps – Calendar, Contacts, Pages, Safari, Numbers and more. It’s one of the most useful tools in Apple’s ecosystem and is one you should be using if you have more than one Apple device.

Set up Handoff

Use Handoff with any Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch that meets the Continuity system requirements. Handoff works when your devices are near each other and set up as follows:

  • Each device is signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID.
    To see the Apple ID used by Apple Watch, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, then go to General > Apple ID.
  • Each device has Bluetooth turned on.
  • Each Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch has Wi-Fi turned on.
  • Each device has Handoff turned on:
    • On Mac, choose Apple menu () > System Preferences, then click General. Select “Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices.”
    • On iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, go to Settings > General > Handoff, then turn on Handoff.
    • On Apple Watch, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, then tap General and turn on Enable Handoff.

Use Handoff

  1. On one of your devices, open an app that works with Handoff.
    Apps that work with Handoff include Mail, Maps, Safari, Reminders, Calendar, Contacts, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and numerous third-party apps.
  2. Use the app to start a task, such as writing an email or document.
  3. If switching to your Mac, click the app’s icon in the Dock:

If switching to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch:

  1. Unlock your device.
  2. Open the multitasking screen, as you would when switching between apps.
  3. Tap the app banner at the bottom of the screen.
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