How to Use Universal Clipboard On Your Mac, iPhone & iPad

Copy and paste comes to the cloud - and all of your devices

An illustration of files being transferred wirelessly between devices

eichinger julien/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Have you ever wanted to be able to copy text or an image on your computer and then paste it into an app on your phone? For a long time, this wasn't really possible. But thanks to Apple's Universal Clipboard feature it's not only possible, it's also easy.

What Is the Mac Universal Clipboard?

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

Think of it this way: When you copy something on one of your Apple devices, it's actually copied to all of your Apple devices, giving each of them temporary ability to paste that item.

With Universal Clipboard, you can copy and paste from a Macbook Air to an iPad, from an iPhone to an iMac, from an iPhone to an iPad, and from a Mac Pro to a Macbook (or any other combination you can come up with). Pretty cool, right?

Universal Clipboard Requirements

To use Universal Clipboard, your devices must be:

  • Macs running macOS Sierra (10.12) or newer.
  • iOS devices running iOS 10 or newer.
  • Signed into iCloud using the same Apple ID.
  • Have Bluetooth enabled.
  • Have Wi-Fi enabled and be connected to the same network.
  • Have Handoff enabled.
  • Be within about 30 feet (10 meters) of each other (standard Bluetooth range).

How to Enable Universal Clipboard on Mac and iOS Devices

Here's what you need to do to enable all of the options and settings needed for Universal Clipboard:

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

  2. Next, sign into iCloud with the same Apple ID on all devices.

    • On Macs, go to Apple menu > System Preferences > iCloud > Sign In.
    • On iOS devices, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Sign In.
  3. Turn on Bluetooth.

    • On Macs, go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Bluetooth > Turn Bluetooth On.
    • On iOS devices, go to Settings > Bluetooth > move the slider to on/green.
  4. Turn on Wi-Fi.

    • On Macs, go to the Wi-Fi menu in the top right and select Turn Wi-Fi On.
    • On iOS devices, go to Settings > Wi-Fi > move the slider to on/green.

    Connect all devices to the same network.

  5. Enable Handoff.

    • On Macs, go to Apple menu > System Preferences > General > check the box next to Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices.
    • On iOS devices, go to Settings > General > Handoff > move the slider to on/green.
  6. Place your devices within about 30 feet (10 meters) of each other.

How to Use Universal Clipboard on Mac, iPhone, and iPad

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

  1. Copy content on a device the way you normally would. This could be a block of text, an image, or other content that can be copied.

  2. The copied content is saved to the clipboard on the device where you copied it. It's also automatically added to the clipboard of other, nearby devices configured using the steps in the last section.

  3. Paste the copied content on any device where it's available, in the same way you normally paste content.

You can copy and paste files between Macs running macOS High Sierra (10.13) and up. Files cannot be copy and pasted to or between iOS devices.

Universal Clipboard Tips

  • The content copied to Universal Clipboard is only available for a short time. If you copy content, but don't paste it, expect it to disappear from your clipboard after a minute or two.
  • You overwrite content from Universal Clipboard the same way you overwrite anything on your normal clipboard. That is, if you copy something, don't paste it, and then copy something else, the only thing available to paste is the most recent item. That's true with Universal Clipboard, too. So, you might copy something on one device, and then overwrite that on a second device by copying something on the second device before pasting the first item.
  • Universal Clipboard doesn't let you copy multiple items or see what's on the clipboard and manage it. It just extends the basic copy and paste function to all of your compatible devices.