Skip to main content

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.

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Alex Blake
In ancient times, people like Alex would have been shunned for their nerdy ways and strange opinions on cheese. Today, he…
I used an app to create 3D models with my iPhone, and it’s shockingly great
Alan Truly captures a 3D model of a figurine with an iPhone 13 Pro Max

The pace of innovation in artificial intelligence image generation is phenomenal. One company — Luma Labs — provides an excellent example of a practical, yet hugely entertaining use of the latest technology applied to 3D images.

Luma AI is in beta testing on the iPhone and eventually will be made available on Android as well. I got into the beta test group and can share some information about what this amazing app does and how easy it is to get incredible results.
What is Luma AI?

Read more
Apple Security Research website launches to protect your Mac
Apple Seurity Research website has resources for bug bounty hunters.

Apple just launched a new website that's dedicated to macOS and iOS security and there are already two blog posts that provide examples of what to expect, one providing a deep dive into memory allocation within the XNU kernel at the heart of all Apple devices, and another discussing the improved security bounty process.

The new website will undoubtedly become a critical resource for Apple security researchers, both providing information and serving as a hub for submitting bounties. The Apple Security Research website is also where you can apply for an official Apple Security Research Device (SRD) to help with identifying vulnerabilities by providing special access to what are normally protected areas of iOS.

Read more
macOS Ventura launches with Stage Manager and redesigned apps
Stage manager in macOS Ventura.

Many months after being announced at WWDC 2022, macOS Ventura has now exited beta and is available to download for all.

In addition to a bright orange new wallpaper, the update comes with a number of new features, including Stage Manager, Continuity Camera, and a host of redesigned apps.

Read more