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How to use Magic Handoff in AirBuddy 2

Note: there is a macOS Monterey bug affecting a significant number of AirBuddy users who have the "Enable Other Macs and Magic Handoff" preference enabled. If you're affected by this issue, you'll notice that Sidecar, Universal Clipboard and Continuity stop working when AirBuddy is running. Apple has already addressed this bug as of macOS 12.1 beta 3. If you experience this issue, you can disable Magic Handoff in AirBuddy for the time being, or try out the AirBuddy 2.5 beta which uses a new protocol that's not affected by the issue.

AirBuddy has a feature called Magic Handoff, which allows you to transfer peripherals (Magic Mouse, Magic Keyboard, or Magic Trackpad) between two Macs running AirBuddy.

Enabling Magic Handoff

Since Magic Handoff and the display of information from other Macs uses Bluetooth bandwidth and most users don’t need the feature, it is disabled by default. To enable it, launch AirBuddy’s settings, go to the “Devices” tab, then make sure “Enable Other Macs and Magic Handoff” is checked.

The AirBuddy settings window on the Devices tab with the option ‘Enable Other Macs and Magic Handoff’ enabled

Using Magic Handoff to transfer peripherals

Starting from the Mac you want to transfer peripherals from

AirBuddy 2.3, macOS Bug Sur or later

If the Mac you want to transfer the peripherals from is running macOS Big Sur or later and AirBuddy 2.3 or later, you can transfer multiple peripherals at the same time using the “Magic Handoff” shortcut, which can be configured in the app’s settings under “Advanced”. Just invoke the shortcut and follow the steps on screen.

The entire operation can be completed without lifting your hands from the keyboard, use the arrow keys to navigate the options on screen, the space bar to check/uncheck devices, and the return key to confirm operations.

The AirBuddy Magic Handoff UI

Before AirBuddy 2.3 or macOS Bug Sur

If the Mac you want to transfer the peripherals from is not running macOS Big Sur or later, or is not running AirBuddy 2.3 or later, you can transfer peripherals from AirBuddy’s menu bar interface. Just open the list of devices, control-click a device you wish to transfer, then choose “Transfer To” and select the destination Mac.

AirBuddy’s list of devices in the menu bar is seen, a peripheral has a menu opened with the option to transfer it to another Mac

Starting from the Mac you want to transfer peripherals to

You can also start the Magic Handoff transfer from the Mac you wish to transfer peripherals to. The procedure with the keyboard shortcut is the same as the one described above, but you may also just click a peripheral on the list of devices in the menu bar to connect to that peripheral.

Magic Handoff limitations and tips

Magic Handoff is a complex feature that depends on collaboration between multiple Macs running AirBuddy, which happens through Bluetooth Low Energy. Because of that, it won’t work on any Mac without support for Bluetooth Low Energy, as described in the system requirements article.

Sometimes, the operation can take several seconds to complete, because both Macs need to negotiate the transfer over BLE, and the peripheral must respond to the requests to unpair it from the current Mac and pair it again to the new Mac.

The best way to ensure success when using Magic Handoff is to first plug the peripheral (Magic Mouse, Keyboard or Trackpad) with a USB to Lightning cable to all of the Macs you’d like to use it with. That procedure only has to be done once and it will speed up transfers and increase the chances of success. Additionally, ensure all Macs are always running the latest version of AirBuddy.

Using Magic Handoff with Macs on separate iCloud accounts

Magic Handoff doesn't require any special setup or configuration when both Macs are on the same iCloud account. If you'd like to use Magic Handoff with Macs on separate iCloud accounts (or without an iCloud account), you have to pair them manually first. This article has the step-by-step instructions on how to do that.

About the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID

The Magic Keyboard with Touch ID can be transferred with Magic Handoff on AirBuddy 2.4 or later. Keep in mind that fingerprints registered for a given Mac won't work on another Mac and that fingerprints could be lost when the keyboard is transferred between devices.

Magic Handoff security

Magic Handoff and the display of other Macs and their accessories in AirBuddy encrypts all communications using AES256 encryption with a random key that's generated for each Mac. Macs using the same iCloud account automatically share their key through iCloud. Macs that are not on the same iCloud account can be paired manually using the procedure described in this article, which requires user confirmation in order for both Macs to exchange their encryption keys. When using the new Magic Keyboard with Touch ID in AirBuddy, the app won't be able to access any fingerprint data associated with the device.