How to use Handoff on your Mac

With Handoff, part of Apple's Continuity features, you can start something on one device (like an iMessage on your iPhone) and finish it off on another (like your Mac or iPad). Handoff makes it not only possible to move your activities between your devices without interrupting your workflow, but it makes it 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 Mac(s) and your other device need to be:

  • Using a Mac that supports Bluetooth LE (Anything mid-2012 or later)
  • 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 unnecessarily draining your battery. 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 Mac App Store apps. Check the app's description for compatibility.

How to enable or disable Handoff on the Mac

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

  1. Launch System Preferences from the Dock or by clicking the Apple icon and System Preferences on the top left of your screen.
  2. Click on General.
  3. Check the box to the left of Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices.

    Launch System Preferences, click General, check the box next to Allow Handoff

To disable Handoff, repeat the same steps but set the uncheck the box. When you're using an app on one device and it's available for Handoff, its icon will appear on the far right (or top) of your Dock.

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 fast app switcher

If you find using the keyboard quicker than using the dock, you can also get to Handoff via the fast app switcher. It'll be on the far left side.

  1. Press Command-Tab to activate the fast app switcher.
  2. Press Command-Tab again and again until you cycle all the way to the Handoff icon.

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.

Some great accessories for your Mac!

Anker Ultra Slim

Anker Ultra Slim keyboard ($17 at Amazon)

For a low-cost alternative to Apple's Magic Keyboard, you'll be happy with Anker's universal Bluetooth keyboard. It uses the Magic Keyboard's scissor mechanism keys, so your typing experience will be very familiar. It doesn't come with a lot of bells and whistles, but for the price, it's the perfect alternative.


Logitech M720 ($36 at Amazon)

Also known as the Triathalon Mouse, Logitech's low-cost, high-powered wireless mouse is a great mid-range product. It's called the Triathalon Mouse because it has three Bluetooth device connections so you can use it with your iMac Pro at home, your MacBook Pro on the go, and your PC at work.


Let us know in the comments below!

Updated June 2019: All steps have been updated for macOS Mojave and macOS Catalina.

macOS Big Sur


We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.