How to use Handoff on iPhone and iPad

Handoff is part of Continuity and lets you transfer your activities between iPhone, iPad, and Mac. For example, you can be writing an email on your iPhone as you come in the door, sit down with your Mac, and keep writing the exact same email. You can be reading iMore.com on Safari on your Mac, get up, grab your iPad, and keep reading right where you left off. You can even finish up a Keynote presentation on your iPad, throw it in your bag, realize you need to make some edits, pull out your iPhone, and get them done as you walk out the door. Best of all, it's easy to do!

Handoff requirements

Handoff broadcasts activities using Bluetooth Low Energy (BT LE) and transfers them using Wi-Fi, either directly or via iCloud. In order to use Handoff, your iPhone(s) and iPad(s) need to be:

  • Equipped with Bluetooth LE (iPhone 5 or later, iPad 4 or later, any iPad mini, iPod touch 5)
  • Logged into the same Apple ID (iCloud account) on all your devices.
  • Connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • Running OS X Yosemite 10.10 or later.

Bluetooth LE is required because it both uses very little power, and it only works within a very close range. You want Handoff to always be available, but not draining your battery unnecessarily. Likewise, you only want devices that are nearby and under your physical control to pick up your activities. Security and privacy first.

Handoff compatibility

Apple has added Handoff support to the following built-in apps:

  • Mail, Safari, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, Contacts, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote

Developers can also add Handoff support to App Store apps. Check the app's description for compatibility.

How to enable or disable Handoff on iPhone and iPad

Handoff should be enabled by default. If it isn't, or if you need to toggle it:

  1. Launch the Settings app from your Home screen
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Handoff & Suggested Apps
  4. Toggle Handoff to On.

To disable Handoff, repeat the same steps but set the toggle to Off.

How to access Handoff from the Lock Screen

When you're using an app on one device, and it's available for Handoff, its icon will appear on the bottom left of the Lock screen on your other devices.

  1. Touch the app icon on the bottom left of the Lock screen.
  2. Swipe up.
  3. Authenticate with Touch ID or your passcode, if enabled.

It can take a few seconds or more for the app to launch and your activity to transfer over. Once it has, you can continue working right where you left off.

How to access Handoff from the multitasking screen

If you've already unlocked your other iOS device, the Handoff icon will appear on the multitasking screen instead.

  1. Double-click on the Home button.
  2. Swipe left from the Home screen card to get to the Handoff card.
  3. Tap the Handoff card.

It can take a few seconds or more for the app to launch and your activity to transfer over. Once it has, you can continue working right where you left off.