One of the most useful features of Apple’s ecosystem is something Apple calls the Universal Clipboard, and yet many iPhone and Mac users do not seem to know it exists, mostly because Apple does not really advertise it.
The way it works is simple: When you copy something on your iPhone (text, an image, a link, whatever), you can choose Paste on your nearby Mac, and the contents will be displayed above, just like if you made a copy / paste on the same machine. The same is true, from your Mac to your iPhone or iPad. Once you get used to the Universal Clipboard, it quickly becomes one of your best productivity tools.
But it requires a bit of setup, and it can be difficult to find because it’s a feature of a broader technology called Handoff that allows you to resume work in supported apps between iPhones, iPads, and Macs. How to activate it.
On your iPhone or iPad
To activate Universal Clipboard, just turn on Handoff. To do this on your iPhone or iPad:
Press AirPlay & Handoff
When turned on, Handoff features work with any other Mac or iPad logged in to the same Apple ID as long as it’s nearby (typically within a few feet).
On your Mac
Once Handoff is enabled on your iPhone or iPad, you must also enable it on your Mac.
Open System Preferences
Activate the checkbox next to it Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices
With Handoff enabled, you get the Univesal Clipboard and see new icons in your Dock for apps like Safari, Mail, Maps, Calendar and others when you have them open on your iPhone or iPad. If you click on one of these icons, the app will open to the same place or page as it is on your iPhone / iPad.
Different Handoff features have different system requirements, which Apple states here. But especially the Universal Clipboard is one of the best supported features. All you need is:
Any iPhone 5 or later or iPad 4th generation or later running iOS / iPadOS 10 or later.
Any Mac from 2012 or later running macOS Sierra (10.12) or later.
In other words, almost any hardware from the last eight years, with software from the last five, will work.
That able to be a little picky at times. If you think it stops working, just go back to Settings and System Settings, turn off Handoff (on both your iPhone / iPad and Mac), wait a few seconds and then turn them on again. It tends to solve any problems.
I have written professionally about technology throughout my adult professional life – over 20 years. I like to find out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way that everyone can understand.