How to Connect iPhone to Mac

Connect your iPhone and Mac to sync music, photos, notes, and more

What to Know

  • On iPhone, go to Settings > tap name > iCloud > sign in. On Mac, go to Apple menu > System Preferences > iCloud > sign in.
  • To use Continuity, turn on Handoff on both devices.
  • On older devices: Load iTunes on both iPhone and Mac and sync via cable or Wi-Fi.

This article explains how to connect an iPhone to a Mac using iCloud, Continuity, and iTunes. Instructions apply to iPhones running iOS 11 and up and Macs running macOS 10.13 and up, except where noted.

How to Connect iPhone to Mac Using iCloud

To sync your iPhone and Mac with iCloud, make sure your Mac and iPhone are signed in to the same account and have the same sync settings. Then, any change to the data on one device will be synced up to iCloud and then down to the other device, so they're always in sync.

How to Sign in to iCloud on iPhone

Sign in to iCloud using your Apple ID. You probably did this when you set up your iPhone and your Mac, but follow these steps if you didn't.

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Tap your name at the top of the screen.

  3. Tap iCloud.

  4. Sign in with your Apple ID username and password

How to Sign into iCloud on Mac

Sign in to the same iCloud account on your Mac to start syncing. You might have already done this at setup, but if not, it's a quick process.

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top left corner.

  2. Click System Preferences.

  3. Click iCloud.

  4. Sign in using your Apple ID username and password.

  5. Follow the onscreen prompts to set up iCloud.

iCloud Syncing Options

Data that can be synced using iCloud includes Apple News, calendars, contacts, email, Homekit data, notes, reminders, Safari bookmarks and files, Siri data, Stocks, and usernames and passwords from your Keychain. (You also need to use Apple's pre-installed apps for these data types.)

Once both devices are signed in to iCloud, make sure the sync settings match. For instance, to use iCloud to keep your contacts in sync, check the Contacts box on Mac and move the Contacts slider to on/green on iPhone.

iCloud can also sync photos between your devices and turn on Photo Stream and iCloud photo sharing. This is great, but the photo syncing options are more complex than for other types of data.

How to Connect iPhone to Mac Using Continuity

One of the great things about Apple devices is how well they work together. Apple's Continuity features let you do things like answer iPhone calls using your Mac or write an email on a Mac and send it from your iPhone.

Handoff in iOS 8
image copyright Apple Inc.
  1. Be signed into the same iCloud account on all devices.

  2. Have all devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

  3. Turn on Bluetooth on both devices.

  4. Turn on Handoff on both devices. On a Mac, go to System Preferences > General, and check Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices.

  5. On an iPhone, go to Settings > General > Handoff > move the Handoff slider to on/green.

Continuity Features

Three of the coolest Continuity features that connect iPhone to Mac are:

  • Handoff. This lets you, well, handoff items between your devices. It can let you: transfer a web page you're viewing on your Mac to your iPhone; start writing an email on one device, then finish and send it on the other; get directions in the Mac Maps app and send them to iPhone for use while you drive.
  • Making and answering phone calls. If your iPhone is in another room, you can answer its calls using your Mac. To enable this option, on your iPhone, go to Settings > Phone > Calls on Other Devices > move the Allow Calls on Other Devices slider to on/green. To select which of your devices can make and receive these calls, move the sliders in the list below to on/green.
  • Universal Clipboard. When you copy text, images, and other data, every device signed in to your iCloud account can paste it. So, if you copy any text on your iPhone, it's also automatically copied to your Mac and can be pasted there.

Continuity and Handoff run on iOS 8 and up, and macOS 10.10 Yosemite and up. Universal Clipboard requires macOS 10.12 Sierra or newer.

Other Ways to Connect iPhone and Mac

Syncing isn't the only way to connect the iPhone and Mac. Both devices include features for sharing services and content to make your digital life simpler. Some examples include:

  • Personal Hotspot: Set up Personal Hotspot to turn your iPhone into a Wi-Fi hotspot and share the internet connection with your Mac.
  • AirDrop: Need to swap a few files between devices? Use AirDrop to wirelessly transfer files from your iPhone.
  • iMessage: Did you know you can send and receive iMessages from your Mac? Just open Messages on the Mac and sign in to your iMessage account.
  • iCloud Music Library: If you subscribe to Apple Music or iTunes Match, or bought music at the iTunes Store, all of your devices can have the same music using iCloud Music Library. Just enable the option on your iPhone (Settings > Music > move the iCloud Music Library slider to on/green) and your Mac (open iTunes > iTunes menu > Preferences > General > check the iCloud Music Library box).

How to Connect iPhone to Mac Using iTunes

If you have a Mac running macOS 10.14 Mojave or older, one of the simplest ways to connect it to an iPhone is iTunes. Syncing devices using iTunes lets you move music, video, books, files, and other content. There are two ways to sync using iTunes:

  • Connect iPhone to Mac with a cable. Just take the cable that came with your iPhone, plug one end into the phone and the other into a USB port on your Mac. Then you can sync your iPhone to your computer.
  • Sync iPhone to Mac over Wi-Fi. This is a simple alternative to using a cable. If your Mac and your iPhone are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, they can sync wirelessly.
  • Why won't my iPhone connect to my Mac?

    If your iPhone won't connect to your computer, try resetting your iPhone's Location & Privacy settings, then reconnect your device via USB and tap Trust on your iPhone. If you still have trouble, check the cable and the USB port, restart your devices, then update iTunes and your operating system.

  • How do I stream from my iPhone to my Mac with AirPlay?

    To stream content from your iPhone on a Mac using Apple AirPlay, start playing a video in a supported app and tap the screen to bring up the playback controls. Next, tap the AirPlay icon, then choose your Mac.

  • How do I connect my iPhone and Mac on FaceTime?

    If you have FaceTime set up on your iPhone and you want to get calls on your Mac, open the FaceTime app on your Mac and go to FaceTime > Preferences > Settings > Calls from iPhone.

  • How do I share Wi-Fi from my Mac to my iPhone?

    To share a Wi-Fi connection from your Mac to your iPhone, add your Apple ID to contacts on both devices. Then, move the devices close to each other and tap Share. Alternatively, connect your iPhone via USB and go to System Preferences > Sharing > Internet Sharing on your Mac.

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