My Love/Hate Relationship with Apple's Handoff and Continuity

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #108


I’ve got a love/hate relationship with Continuity and Handoff, that dynamic duo of interoperability features introduced in Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8. The thing I love is the idea that my Apple devices can be interchangeable for most tasks. For example, being able to make and receive calls with my iPhone using my Mac, iPad, or iPod touch is simply brilliant. And how can you not love Handoff, which lets you start a document or message on one device—a Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch—and seamlessly pick up where you left off on a different device?

So that's the love part.

Now, here’s what I hate: It works sporadically for me. Some days my Mac isn’t part of the Continuity and Handoff community, though my iDevices continue offering Continuity. Other days my iPhone refuses to participate while my Mac, iPad, and iPod touch are Continuity-ing just fine.

Another thing I hate is that my office sounds like a Vegas casino whenever the phone rings, with four or five different devices playing a different ringtone at once. It wouldn’t be a problem if you could choose “none” or “silence” as your ringtone, but you can’t. What makes it worse is that you can't select none or silent as the ringtone for your Mac or your iDevices.

Or can you? Being a geek, I used my Google-Fu and created a custom silent ringtone for my Mac in GarageBand, which I then installed in:  /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/ToneLibrary.framework/Versions/A/Resources/Ringtones

I had to diddle its permissions as shown below before FaceTime would recognize it, but it worked.

This is what worked for me!

I know the next Yosemite update is likely to break this fix, but until then my Mac will be blissfully quiet when my iPhone rings.For what it's worth, I haven’t figured out a way to disable the ringing on my iPad or iPod touch and I don't think it's possible without jailbreaking. If you know a way, please (pretty please) share it. For now, I enable Do Not Disturb or set the volume to 0, but those global settings affect all sounds, not just the ringing. Needless to say, a "silent" or "none" option would be better.  

Moving right along, another feature that’s been a crapshoot for me is answering or making calls with a device other than my iPhone itself. While it works as promised a lot of the time, all too often calls fail, are dropped, or the audio quality on one end or the other is unacceptable. It happens often enough that I'm gun shy about making or answering a call on any device but my iPhone. I'd love it if it worked all the time or even almost all the time. 

I realize that many people — including my own wife — aren’t having issues with Continuity or Handoff.  While my setup involves more devices than most users, I don't think that's the problem. A quick search of the Internet for Handoff or Continuity and “not working” and you'll find thousands of articles including this comprehensive Apple support article and dozens of Apple Support Communities discussions.

Since I’ve already read a lot of articles and discussions, let me save you the trouble. Here's a quick summary of what has worked for me (at least most of the time):

  • Make sure all of your devices meet the system requirements for Continuity.
  • Make sure all of your devices are properly configured for Handoff and Continuity.
    • All devices should be connected to the same WiFi network.
    • Bluetooth and Handoff should be enabled.
    • Mac users should enable iPhone Cellular Calls in FaceTime-->Preferences to make or receive calls on their Macs.
  • Make sure all of your devices are logged in to the same iCloud account.
    • Note that although,, and all point to the same account and mailbox, Handoff and Continuity consider them three different and unique logins. So make sure you’re using the same one for all of your devices.
  • Disable and then re-enable Handoff on all of your devices, reboot all devices, and then sign back into iCloud on all of 'em. (Remember to use the same user ID for all of your devices.)
    • Mac: System Preferences-->General
    • iDevices: Settings-->General-->Handoff & Suggested Apps
  • Sign out of iCloud on all of your devices.
    • Mac: System Preferences-->iCloud
    • iDevices: Settings-->iCloud

If none of the above does the trick for you, try restarting your wireless router. It's a Hail Mary pass, but it worked for me at least once.

In closing, while I can’t say I’ve resolved every single Continuity/Handoff hiccup with these techniques, they’ve worked for me more often than not. And, for what it's worth, Continuity and Handoff are working perfectly today and love is in the air… at least until the next time.

Everything is working today on my Mac (left), iPhone (right), and two iPads and an iPod touch (not shown).

And that’s all he wrote…