Your phone and your computer could make a formidable team, here are 5 ways to link them.
Between them, your smartphone and your computer already command a huge amount of your time and attention. Have you ever thought about putting them together? Harmonizing your devices will boost your productivity, save you time and reduce your stress levels. Here are five ways to make your smartphone and computer get along better.
#1. Use syncing apps
One of the best ways to create harmony between your phone and computer is to use apps that automatically sync. Perhaps the greatest example is set by Google: Calendar, Gmail, and Maps automatically apply any changes you make within your computer's web browser to your corresponding mobile apps and automatically sync all of your data. All you need to do is sign in using the same account and the rest is done for you.
Not all apps will automatically sync with their web portal or desktop versions but it doesn’t hurt to check. Syncing apps are what I like to call ‘team players’; they can really help enhance your productivity.
Using syncing apps can really make a difference when it comes to instant messaging apps. Many people use Skype for IMs for this very reason; it syncs flawlessly across any device. By way of comparison, Apple's Messages is great if you’re only using iPhones and Macs but won’t sync if you’re using a Windows computer or an Android phone. Skype doesn’t have this drawback.
Facebook Messenger is a great choice as it works on the web as well as Android and iOS. WhatsApp is a good alternative as it’s available for Android and iOS, and you can also view your conversations in a browser window on your computer.
#2. Use the same browser
The second way to get your phone and computer playing nicely together is to bring your browser with you. Your browser contains a treasure trove of helpful data including your bookmarks, past searches, and passwords. Choose one browser, create a user account and then sync your data. It’s that simple.
All major browsers offer this option and you’ll only hit a snag if you use Safari on your Apple computer and don’t own an iPhone as the Safari mobile app is only available for iOS. In this case, you’ll have to choose from Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge or any other leading browser.
Using the same browser is as simple as just downloading it onto your phone and computer. When you launch the app, you’ll see a sign in prompt. Here’s what to do.
- Google Chrome: Head to ‘Settings’ and adjust the sync options. Tap the ‘Sign in to Chrome’ button to automatically sync all of your contacts, passwords, and history.
- Firefox: As with Chrome, head to the app’s settings and tap the ‘Sign in to Sync’ button.
- Microsoft Edge: Tap the ‘Sign in with a Microsoft account’ button.
- Safari: On iOS, go to the iPhone’s main ‘Settings’ app, tap your Apple ID name and then tap on iCloud. Turn the Safari toggle switch to ‘On’.
As I use a Windows computer and an Android phone, Google Chrome is my personal favorite but the best option for you will depend on the devices you are using. Try experimenting until you find a good fit. Taking your browser with you is one of the best ways to help your phone and computer team up!
#3. Sync files via the cloud
If you work on the go, you’ll want to access the same files on both your computer and your smartphone. Cloud storage is the way to go and your hardest choice will be choosing which service to use.
First, choose a service (Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox etc) and access the web interface on your computer (or download the desktop client). Then download the mobile version on your phone and sign in on both your computer and your phone. This will keep all your files in sync and up to date, whenever and wherever you want to access them.
Personally, I used to use OneDrive as it offered up to 30GB of cloud storage space but it has since cut that down to 5GB and charges $2 per month for 50GB. I naturally gravitated towards Google Drive as Chrome is my main browser. Google Drive offers an impressive 15GB of free space or 100GB for just $2 per month. It’s worth noting that this 15GB of free space is shared across all of your Google apps, but you can upload unlimited photos and videos to Google Photos without eating into your allowance.
To a large extent, your choice will depend on the devices you are using. On iOS, iCloud will be the default choice, and on Android, it’ll be Google Drive (although you can download Drive to iOS devices as well). Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox are both excellent alternatives that work with all major operating systems.
If you're still unsure which product to choose, do a simple comparison based on free storage and how much you need to store. If you need more storage, here are the details:
- Drive: $2 per month for 100GB
- iCloud: $1 per month for 50GB
- OneDrive; $2 per month for 50GB
- Dropbox: $8.25 per month for 1TB
#4. On Apple computers: Use the Continuity feature
If you only use Apple products – a Mac computer and an iPhone – then Apple’s Continuity feature is one of the best ways to unite your devices and get more done. Provided that you connect them using the same Wi-Fi network, enable Bluetooth and sign into both devices with the same Apple ID, Continuity offers several different ways to make your phone and computer get along better.
One of Continuity’s latest and handiest features is ‘Continuity Camera’. This lets you instantly import any photo from your iPhone into a variety of desktop apps on your Mac including Mail, Keynote, Messages, Notes, Finder, and others.
Let’s say you’re creating a presentation in Keynote and want to insert a photo from your iPhone. By simply clicking ‘Insert’ > ‘Insert from iPhone’ > ‘Take Photo’, your synced iPhone will automatically open up its camera. You can then take the image you need and instantly import it into Keynote without any intermediary steps!
Another cool Continuity feature is called ‘Handoff’. This lets you jump between devices while keeping the same data on the screen. It works with a range of apps on both iPhone and Mac including Mail, Keynote, Safari, Calendar and more. You’ll find the ‘Handoff’ option in the macOS dock or by swiping up and holding on your iPhone to bring up the multitasking screen.
Lastly, the ‘Universal Clipboard’ deserves a mention as it lets you copy any image or text from one device and paste it into an app on your other device. Provided you are signed in on both devices, logged into the same Wi-Fi network and have Bluetooth enabled, this feature works automatically and can save you plenty of time.
#5. On Windows computers: Share photos and texts
‘Your Phone’ is the latest productivity app for Windows 10 that helps your phone and computer team up. To find it, simply type ‘Your Phone’ into the taskbar search box and click on the option at the top of the list. Sign in with your Microsoft account and enter your phone number. This will let your smartphone receive a text message containing a link to the ‘Your Phone Companion’ app. This app can also be installed manually. Once you’ve signed in on your phone, your data will be synced across both devices.
This app lets you view photos from your phone on your computer just by opening the ‘Your Phone’ app from your desktop. You can scroll through your photos and even view and send text messages. Sadly, this only works on Android phones for the time being, not iPhones. As this app is still in development, we can expect to see this option in the future.
Hopefully, you found these five ways to unite your phone and computer helpful. We’re certain that they can help you get more done, increase your productivity and generally feel less stressed. If there are any tips that we missed, feel free to sound off in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to get back to you.