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DeskConnect: Share files, URLs, and more between OS X and iOS

Dan Miller | March 17, 2014
Seven or so years since the introduction of iOS, getting stuff from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac--and vice versa--is still a pain.

Seven or so years since the introduction of iOS, getting stuff from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac — and vice versa — is still a pain.

Sure, there are plenty of ways to sync or share files. You can sync data using iTunes or (for some apps) Dropbox. You can send files via email. You can sync Safari bookmarks, Reading List URLs, and open tabs over iCloud. You can share photos via PhotoStream. You can even share clipboard contents using utilities such as Command-C. But these are all piecemeal solutions that each work for one particular type of data, but not others. (Alas, Apple's AirDrop feature handles many kinds of data, but it currently works only for sharing files from Mac to Mac, or from one iOS device to another — it doesn't work between OS X and iOS.)

That's the problem that DeskConnect seeks to solve, and by and large, it does a good job. Once you install the free DeskConnect apps for Mac (Mac App Store link) and iOS (App Store link) on your various devices, and set up a free account, you can share photos, webpages, document files, and clipboard contents between the two platforms using DeskConnect clients for OS X and iOS.

On the Mac, you can simply drag a file from the Finder to the DeckConnect icon in the menubar; that opens a menu from which you can choose the iOS device to which you want to send the item. (Note that DeskConnect's file-dragging feature was initially broken when Apple released OS X 10.9.2. DeskConnect 1.1.1 fixed the problem.) You receive — almost immediately — a push notification on the destination device that the file has been received. You can also select text in a Mac app, and then choose a destination device in the DeskConnect menu; the selection is sent to the DeskConnect app on that device, where you can choose to open the text in Messages, Mail, Twitter, Facebook, a text editor, and so on.

Similarly, if you want to share a URL that's open in your desktop browser, just make sure your browser is frontmost and then choose a device from the DeskConnect menu. The URL automatically opens on that device in the browser you've designated. The DeskConnect apps are smart enough to handle special URLs, too. For example, if you have a map open in your desktop browser, sending that URL to an iOS device results in the map opening in your iOS mapping app of choice (Maps, Google Maps, or Waze).

You can also select a phone number in your Mac's Contacts app and use DeskConnect to send it directly to your iPhone's phone app. And DeskConnect has some Automator and AppleScript support for for more advanced uses.


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