Using Handoff Among Apple Devices

Using the Continuity Feature Between Your Mac and iOS Devices

Continuity Feature Icon

What Is Continuity?

Continuity enables your iPhone, iPad, and Mac to work together as one. You can begin an email or document on your Mac and then pick up where you left off on your iPad or iPhone. You can also use Continuity between your iPhone and iPad or Mac to make phone calls or send messages. Continuity in practice is called “Handoff.”

Enabling Handoff

Before enabling Handoff, make sure each of your devices is signed in to iCloud using the same Apple ID.

Enable on iPhone/iPad:

  1. Go to Settings > General > “Handoff & Suggested Apps”
  2. Switch Handoff to on.


  1. Go to System Preferences > General
  2. Turn on “Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices.”

Using Handoff

Let’s use the Mail app as an example. First, we’ll do a handoff from an iOS device to your Mac. So, on your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open Mail.
  2. Start composing an email by typing a few words.
  3. Go to your Mac and open Mail there.
  4. At the bottom left of the Dock you will see the Mail icon with a small iPhone or iPad icon in the upper right.
  5. Click the icon and your draft email will appear after a few seconds.

To do the reverse—from Mac to iOS device, there are two ways.

First, start a draft email in Mail on your Mac and then go to your iPhone or iPad:

Method 1: When the Device is Locked

  1. Push the power button to bring up the lock screen.
  2. At the bottom left, you’ll see the Mail icon.
  3. Swipe up, unlock the device, and the app will open and show your draft email.

Method 2: When the Device is Active

  1. Double-press the Home button to bring up the App Switcher
  2. At the bottom, you’ll see a gray highlight with the Mail icon and the name of your Mac.
  3. Touch the highlighted band and the app will open and show your draft email.

Handoff also works with:

  • Phone calls
  • Messages
  • Maps
  • Safari
  • Reminders
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Pages
  • Numbers
  • Keynote
  • Some third-party apps.

Note: For Handoff to work dependably on all your devices, they must be within Bluetooth range of each other (roughly 33 feet or 10 meters).

Next time, I’ll spend a few minutes on the specifics of Handoff and Phone calls.