Push text files between my phone and my laptop using native OS/apps, not third party installs?

Ask Different Asked on November 27, 2020

I like to keep track of information with simple text files, and I’d like to push them back and forth (or synchronize them) with native iOS and macOS software.

Is there an easy way to do this?

Here’s an example; I go to the library and on my laptop find many library book call numbers (each on a different tab in a browser).

I glob them together, sort the call numbers in order with Python then paste back into a text file.

Then I hold my phone up to the screen and photograph it!

Then I can go to the stacks and check the books without carrying around my laptop.

If there was a printer in the library nearby, I’d print it. If lists like this were shorter, I’d just copy them down by hand.

Question: How can I easily, painlessly push text files back and forth between my phone and my laptop?

screen shot of text file

2 Answers

How can I easily, painlessly push text files back and forth between my phone and my laptop?

Use the cloud...

This is what Cloud synchronization was designed for. This will work with iCloud, OneDrive, Dropbox, et al. Simply create a file and put it in the directory that gets synchronized with your chosen service and the file will be available on all of your devices, in real time.

Additionally, these services include Note taking apps and document processing apps:

  • iCloud: Notes and Pages
  • OneDrive: OneNote and Word
  • Dropbox: Content editing and collaboration tools.

All of these are free (OneDrive includes free web versions of OneNote, Word, Excel, etc. and 5GB of storage) You're not limited to just text files, but if you wanted to share a text file, that can be done as well. Additionally, you don't need to be on the same network.

For instance, you can be logged into a public library computer where you can cut and paste the call numbers into a text file. Your phone, connected to the cellular network, can be signed into your OneDrive or iCloud account and your documents/notes will sync up over it's cellular data connection.

The beauty of this type of solution is it's all cross platform and you can have any mix of desktop (Mac, Windows, FreeBSD/Linux) or phone (iPhone or Android) and it will work as described. If you happen you switch to a tablet, it too will have access to the document(s) in real time.

If your not connected to the Internet

Bluetooth File transfer would be your best best. Apple has an excellent document detailing this. Again, this one is platform agnostic - meaning it's not limited to Apple desktops and devices - you can have a Mac computer and an Android phone/tablet or an iPhone/iPad with a Windows, macOS, or BSD/Linux computer.

On macOS, you can simply enable Bluetooth Sharing in System Preferences

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Answered by Allan on November 27, 2020


With AirDrop, you can wirelessly send documents, photos, videos, websites, map locations, and more to a nearby Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

You should be able to “share” the text file and select your iPhone under AirDrop.

Another option is to Copy and paste between devices:

With Universal Clipboard, you can copy text, images, photos, and videos on one Apple device and then paste the content on another Apple device. For example, you can copy a recipe from your Mac and paste it into a note on your nearby iPhone.

Answered by JBallin on November 27, 2020

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