Universal Clipboard supports Apple devices up to 9 years old, allowing the transfer of text, photos, and videos with a simple copy and paste action.
Apple took one of the most commonly used computer operations, copy and paste, and made it better, allowing owners of an iPhone and a Mac to copy on one device and paste on another. Known as a ‘Universal Clipboard,’ this feature can save a surprisingly large amount of time when compared to emailing or messaging text. This also works from iPod Touch to iPad and every combination of those four types of Apple technology.
Transferring data between Apple devices is quick and easy as it is built right into macOS, iOS, and iPadOS. For example, the best way to easily move iPhone files to a Mac is with AirDrop. Several of Apple’s Continuity features are focused on speeding and simplifying this communication. Handoff allows the user to start work on a Mac, pick up on an iPhone and finish on an iPad. Most Continuity features work equally between an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Mac, but some are only available when combined with an Apple Watch, which can unlock an iPhone and Mac computer and some are specific to the combination of an iPad and a Mac.
With Apple’s Universal Clipboard feature, it’s quick and easy to copy text, photos, and even video between an iPhone and a Mac, but there are a few requirements in order to enjoy this convenience. First, the devices should be signed in with the same Apple ID. This is to protect the user’s privacy, so the contents of the clipboard are only available to the owner. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Handoff must be turned on in the Settings app. Finally, an iPhone, iPad, or Mac desktop released in 2012 or newer or an iPod Touch or MacBook made in 2015 or newer is needed to support this capability. That is a very inclusive list, so most Apple devices have this effortless copy and paste feature that works across devices.
How To Use Apple’s Universal Clipboard
When using a compatible iPhone, Mac, or other Apple device the Universal Clipboard should work automatically. The magic of copying on one device and pasting on another happens behind the scenes with the operating system managing the details. The clipboard transfer is available for a limited time if the second device is asleep or powered off. For most reliable use, it’s best to wake each before copying. Then, there is plenty of time to transition and paste. Apple doesn’t share the exact time periods allowable between copy and paste actions, but in testing, over a minute was possible when an iPhone and Mac were awake. For those that use Apple’s Shortcuts app for automating processes on iOS or iPadOS, the copy action can be set to keep the clipboard locally, which means information copied with the Shortcut will not be available on the Universal Clipboard.
Apple’s Universal Clipboard feature was a little unreliable a few years ago but has improved over time with ongoing software updates and possibly due to the increased speed and bandwidth available in modern Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. Troubleshooting techniques consist of checking that Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Handoff are all enabled and toggling those settings off and back on if not working. Another detail to check is that all devices are signed in to the same Apple ID. Some Continuity features are quite dramatic, such as using an iPad as a second monitor for a Mac computer or unlocking an iPhone with an Apple Watch. However, the Universal Clipboard may be the most useful in day-to-day life, allowing text, photos, and videos to be automatically transferred between devices via a simple copy and paste.
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