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This little-known feature is my favorite part of using a Mac and iPhone together

Apple’s ecosystem attracts plenty of praise for how all the company’s devices work seamlessly together — and rightly so. But among all the admiring glances cast toward AirDrop, Continuity Camera and Sidecar, there’s another feature that feels a little unloved — yet it’s a superb perk of using multiple Apple devices together.

That feature is Universal Clipboard, a handy little timesaver that shuns the spotlight and simply works diligently in the background. Yet that simple nature — it just works, as the saying goes — is part of what makes it so great to use.

Person using iPhone and MacBook.
Tomasz Zagorski / Unsplash

Here’s how you use it. On one Apple device (let’s say a Mac), copy a file. Now switch to another Apple product, like an iPhone, and go to paste as you normally would. Et voilà, the file you copied on the first device is instantly pasted on the second.

It’s not just limited to two devices, either. In fact, any content you copy — be that text, images, videos, or something else — is sent to every Apple device you own that’s signed in with the same iCloud account and meets the minimum requirements. The content stays on the clipboard for a limited time, but while it’s there, you can paste it on as many devices as you want.

Something only Apple can do

Apple products are seen in the store.
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Getty Images / .

The beauty of this is how straightforward it is. You don’t have to upload anything to Dropbox or Google Drive and then retrieve it later. There’s no need to email anything to yourself. Not only does this save on clutter in your cloud storage and your inbox, but it claws back valuable time that you can spend elsewhere.

It’s so intuitive, in fact, that it doesn’t require any special training; you just copy and paste as you normally would. I’d wager that many people don’t even know this feature has a name, since it just feels like a natural part of your device’s operating system.

Despite using Macs all the time, I can’t give up on Windows. Yet I know that I won’t get nearly the same interconnected experience if I switch away from Apple devices. Sure, I could do some similar things on Windows and Android, but they’re far more limited than Apple’s offerings, and don’t feel nearly as polished. It really highlights the advantages of Apple making both the hardware and software in its products.

Better together

MacBook with Apple Numbers on a table.
Digital Trends

Universal Clipboard is made even better by another great feature Apple has baked into its products: Handoff. This lets you start working on one device and then continue on another. So, you could start reading an article on your iPad, then open Apple News on your Mac and the article is right there, exactly where you left off.

Add Universal Clipboard into the mix and not only can you quickly shift across devices, but you can bring copied items with you. Want to continue writing that essay on your iMac instead of an iPad? Just open the app on your Mac and copy some text across with you, and it’s all there waiting for you.

I know it’s just a small feature, but Universal Clipboard is one of those unassuming things that can make a real difference in day-to-day use. Apple’s ecosystem is full of these neat little touches that add up to form a great user experience. From unlocking your Mac with an Apple Watch to the magic of Universal Control, the benefits can be found everywhere you look.

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