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How to send text from your Mac to your iPhone in four easy steps (Updated)

Update: Several readers have emailed me and asked why I don't just use the Notes app to send text from my Mac to my iPhone. Yes, the Notes app works well for syncing text, but I use Reminders because it integrates with the Drafts app. Drafts imports the text from Reminders and then checks off the items in the list. As a result, the Reminders list is always empty. If I used the Notes app on the Mac and iOS, I would end every day with 10-15 additional entries. On the Mac side, I also prefer using the services menu as it helps me keep my focus. I can stay in the web browser and grab a quote without the distraction of opening the Notes app and copy/pasting my text.

Want to send text from your Mac to your iPhone without installing an extra app to do the legwork for you? Here is a workflow that takes snippets of text you copy on your Mac and sends it your iPhone using the Reminders app. You need to use iCloud to sync your reminders for this to work. It'll take about 10 minutes to set up and 30 seconds to use once you have it configured. This idea was originally proposed by @hiilppp in a tweet, and I filled in all the details.

Set up iCloud to Sync your Reminders

The first thing you need to set up is iCloud syncing on your iOS device and your Mac. If you already use iCloud and have Reminders enabled, you can skip these steps and hop to the next section, which will walk you through creating a Reminders List that'll store the text you want to share.

  1. On your iOS device, open the Settings app and scroll down until you see iCloud. Tap the iCloud entry.
  2. Enter in your Apple ID credentials or use the Get a Free Apple ID button to set up an iCloud account. Here is a handy tutorial from Macworld that'll walk you through the process.
  3. Once your iCloud credentials are stored, you must turn on the Reminders toggle. In iOS 7, it'll be green when it is on.
  4. On your Mac, open the System Preferences and click on the iCloud panel.
  5. Enter in your iCloud credentials to enable iCloud on your Mac.
  6. Click the checkbox next to Reminders to turn on iCloud syncing for the app.

Create a Reminders List that'll store the text you want to share

You'll need a dedicated list in the Reminders app that'll be used exclusively to sync text between your Mac and iOS device. I name my list "Drafts" so it can be used by the Drafts app on iOS. This app automatically imports any text that is saved in the Reminders. It is very useful for sending over large blocks of text.

  1. Open the Reminders app on your Mac.
  2. Tap the "+" button on the bottom left to create a new list.
  3. Rename the list to "Drafts" by typing in "Drafts" right after you create the list. If you accidentally named the list something else, you can click on the name to change it.

Create an Automator service that'll transfer selected text to the Reminders app

This Automator service is the glue that holds everything together. It'll take the text you select in any app on your Mac and allow you to send it to the Reminders app as a new list item. This information will then sync seamlessly to your iOS device via iCloud.

  1. Open Automator, File > New. Click on Service to create a new service.
  2. In the left column, make sure "Actions" is selected and search for "Reminders" to pull up the "New Reminders Item" action.
  3. Drag the "New reminders Item" to the workflow editor on the right.
  4. Make sure the "Add To:" field is set to "Existing List" and "Drafts."
  5. Click File > Save and name the Service with a name that is descriptive. I used "Text to iPhone."

Now let's make sure the service was created properly. Open your favorite text editor and right click on the text to bring up the contextual menu. Select Services in this drop-down menu and find your newly created service in the list. In my case, it is "Text to iPhone," as shown below.

Configure the Drafts App on iOS to automatically import the text from your Mac

Each snippet of text that is sent to the Reminders app will automatically sync to the Reminders app on your iOS device. You can use the Reminders app on iOS to grab this text and copy it to other applications. It's easy to use, but if you want to turn up the notch on your automation, you should use the Drafts app from AgileTortoise.

Drafts is an extremely useful text editor. This app has a feature that automatically imports any text saved in the Reminders. It creates new documents from each item in your Reminders list and then checks off each Reminder item as completed. It is very useful for sending over large blocks of text and for keeping your Reminders tidy.

  1. Download and install the Drafts app from the iOS App Store. There is an iPhone version and an iPad version.
  2. Open Drafts and go to the Settings by tapping on the Document icon and then the gear icon
  3. Scroll down until you see "Import from Reminders."
  4. Turn this feature on by dragging the toggle to the right. It'll be gray when it is on. You may have to give Drafts permission to access the Reminders if this is your first time enabling the feature.

Using the Workflow to send text from your Mac to your iOS Device

Now that all the pieces are in place, it is time to use the workflow in your daily activities. With just a few clicks, you should be able to send any text from your Mac to your iPhone or iPad. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Open any app and select the text you want to copy.
  2. Right click on this text to pull up the contextual menu.
  3. Select the service you created and voila! Your text is now happily on its way to your iPhone.
  4. Find your iPhone and open the Drafts app to automatically import each new snippet of text as a new document.


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How-tos Mac iPhone iPad iOS OS X

Update: Several readers have emailed me and asked why I don't just use the Notes app to send text from my Mac to my iPhone. Yes, the...