Apple’s tendency to favor its own ecosystem means if you own an Android phone and a Mac computer, you won’t have the same consistent experience iPhone and Mac users enjoy. This includes AirDrop for file sharing and Continuity features such as a universal clipboard.
Fortunately, there are several third-party apps that seamlessly connect your Android and Mac in productive ways.
We begin with Handshaker, a seamless file management Mac app for Android phones (because Google hasn’t updated its official client for ages). Handshaker allows you to browse your phone’s storage when it’s plugged into your computer, and share files effortlessly between both devices. You can even go wireless by connecting to the same network, although you will end up compromising on transfer bandwidth.
In addition, Handshaker also lets you go through each category of files (such as photos and videos) individually so that they’re easier to find and transfer. All you need to do is install the Handshaker client on your Mac as well as your Android phone, and enable USB debugging on the latter. Since Handshaker is not available on Google Play, you’ll need to sideload it.
Download: Handshaker for Mac | Android (Free)
While Handshaker enables file management, Pushbullet is another free service that lets you mirror phone notifications to your Mac. But that’s not all. For SMS and other messaging apps like WhatsApp, you can even reply from your desktop without ever picking up your phone. Of course, both of them must connect to the internet for this to work.
Pushbullet also offers wireless file sharing. You can share just about anything through Pushbullet like links, text, and more.
If you opt for the premium subscription, you can also interact directly and perform quick actions with notifications like you would on your phone. For instance, you can archive emails from the Gmail app. Premium also grants you universal copy and paste between devices.
Overall, Pushbullet is quite a handy utility, especially if you’re a Mac user with an Android phone.
Download: Pushbullet for Mac | Android (Free, subscription available)
If you don’t want to spend money to have a universal clipboard, take a look at Alt-C. As the name suggests, the app brings a universal clipboard to Android users with Macs.
The idea is simple: copy text on either of the two devices and you’ll have it in both the clipboards. Once configured, you can add as many connected desktops as you’d like and through a hotkey combination, paste or copy text. What’s more, both the Android and Mac clients have a clipboard history so that you can revisit any of the copied texts later down the road if you need.
Vysor is likely the app you’ll end up using most out of all these. The app turns your connected Android phone into a live and interactive emulator, letting you control your phone with a mouse and keyboard on your Mac. You can reply to texts, test projects if you’re a developer, and even navigate around with the arrow keys.
The latency is surprisingly low, and it’s possible to play quick games as well. There’s also a Pro subscription through which you can access a bunch more nifty features like wireless connection, sharing files, going full-screen, and more.
Download: Vysor for Mac | Android (Free, premium version available)
5. VLC Mobile Remote
Popular video player VLC has a handy unofficial Android app that lets you remotely manipulate its playback. As soon as you’re through the lengthy setup process, you’ll have all the options on your phone including the timeframe, subtitles, play/pause, volume, and much more.
The app even lets you play any file from your Mac’s storage directly, which is quite helpful if you’re binge-watching a TV series. Also, did you know these secret VLC features?
DroidID brings a utility to your Mac that’s not even available for iPhone users. The app makes it possible for you to unlock your Mac with your Android phone’s fingerprint.
That’s right: once everything’s in place and you’ve linked both devices, the app sets a notification on your phone. From this, you can simply scan your finger and voila, your Mac unlocks. The authentication happens astonishingly quick—I’ve never faced any delays. This lets you set a strong password without having to type it out every time.
While Vysor lets you control your Android phone from a Mac, Unified Remote does the opposite. The app offers the ability to navigate your Mac and manage it from your phone. You can move the cursor around, access music controls, type from the virtual keyboard on your phone, and even browse your computer’s files.
For a few extra bucks, you can even have voice commands, a floating remote, and a couple more features.
Download: Unified Remote for Mac | Android (Free) Download: Unified Remote Full for Android ($4)