How to use the Universal Clipboard on Mac, iPhone, and iPad

Have you ever wished you could copy text or images on your computer and then paste them into an app on your phone? For a long time, this was virtually impossible. But thanks to Apple's Universal Clipboard feature, it's not only possible, it's easy.

Universal Clipboard is a feature built into macOS and iOS by Apple that makes the copy-paste clipboard accessible to all compatible devices.

Think of it this way: when you copy something on one Apple device, it actually copies to all of your Apple devices, allowing each device to temporarily paste the item.

Using the Universal Clipboard, you can copy and paste from a MacBook Air to an iPad, an iPhone to an iMac, an iPhone to an iPad, a Mac Pro to a MacBook (or any other combination you can think of). Cool, right?

To use the Universal Clipboard, your device must be:

  • Mac running macOS Sierra (10.12) or later.
  • iOS devices running iOS 10 or higher.
  • Sign in to iCloud using the same Apple ID.
  • Enable Bluetooth.
  • Enable Wi-Fi and connect to the same network.
  • Enable switching.
  • Within approximately 30 feet (10 meters) of each other (standard Bluetooth range).

You need to do the following to enable all the options and settings required for Universal Clipboard:

  1. First, make sure your device is running the correct operating system version.

    • Learn how to upgrade macOS in How to Perform a Clean Installation of macOS.
    • For tips on upgrading iOS, see How to update iOS wirelessly on iPhone.
  2. Next, log into iCloud using the same Apple ID on all devices.

    • On Mac: Apple menu > System Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Sign in .
    • On iOS devices: Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Sign in .
  3. Turn on Bluetooth.

    • On Mac: Apple menu> System Settings > Bluetooth >Turn on.
    • On iOS devices: Settings > Bluetooth > Move the slider to On/Green.
  4. Turn on Wi-Fi and connect all devices to the same network.

    • On Mac: Select the Wi-Fi menu in the upper right corner > move the switch to the on/blue position.
    • On iOS devices: Settings > Wi-Fi > Move the slider to On/Green.
  5. Enable switching.

    • On a Mac: Apple menu > System Settings > General > AirDrop & Handoffs > Check the box next to "Allow handoffs between this Mac and your iCloud devices."
    • On iOS devices: Settings > General > AirPlay & Handoff > Handoff > Move the slider to On/Green.
  6. Place your devices within approximately 30 feet (10 meters) of each other.

With these requirements met, here's how to use the Universal Clipboard:

  1. Copy the content on the device as normal. This can be a block of text, an image, or other content that can be copied.

    For instructions, read How to Cut, Copy, and Paste on Mac or How to Copy and Paste on iPhone or iPad.

  2. The copied content is saved to the clipboard on the device from which it was copied.

    It is also automatically added to the clipboards of other nearby devices configured using the steps in the previous section.

  3. Paste the copied content onto any available device, just as you would normally paste content.

Here are some notes about the Universal Clipboard feature and its uses.

  • Short life : Content copied to the Universal Clipboard is only available for a short period of time. If you copy something but don't paste it, expect it to disappear from the clipboard after a minute or two.
  • Overwrite rules apply : You can overwrite content on the Universal Clipboard just like anything on the Normal Clipboard. That is, if you copy something, don't paste it, and then copy something else, the only thing you can paste is the latest item. The same goes for Universal Clipboard. So you can copy something on one device and then overwrite the content on the second device by copying something on the second device before pasting the first item.
  • Single items only : The Universal Clipboard does not allow you to copy multiple items or view and manage the contents of the clipboard. It simply extends basic copy and paste functionality to all compatible devices.