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The Apple ecosystem is the perfect solution for anyone who wants a seamlessly integrated environment where their phone, laptop, and wearable play together without a hitch. This might tempt many people to switch from Android to iOS. But if you prefer to use one of many great Android phones, there are things you can do to make it play better with your MacBook. You might never reach the same level of integration as an iPhone owner, but you can make your life easier, and things might be better than you imagined.

Messaging: Web services and apps

As an Android user, you may never be able to use the preinstalled and seamlessly integrated Apple Messages app complete with iMessage. But as long as blue bubble envy isn't a problem for you or your friends, you can use the Google Messages web app. It's a polished and good-looking app that serves as a messaging client for your MacBook. A ton of other apps offer compatible applications. Telegram, WhatsApp Desktop, and Signal work well on macOS and sync your chats with your phone.

Google Messages displayed in a Flotato window on a Mac desktop

Since Google Messages doesn't offer an app for desktop computers, we recommend using Flotato to get as close to that as possible. This service turns any website into what feels more like an app, with its own icon for the macOS dock and an experience without the address bar you know from your browser. It's based on the rendering engine Apple uses in Safari, so it's lightweight and easy on your battery.

You can also use Google Chrome to create a web app like this. However, you can't entirely quit Chrome when you use a Chrome web app, so Flotato feels more natural.

You'll pay $19 to make Flotato work with more than a handful of opened web apps simultaneously. Still, it's free as long as you don't use it for more than Google Messages.

Sync devices with cloud storage: Continuity and Nearby Share

Moving from device to device can feel like magic in the Apple ecosystem. Features like Handoff allow you to open a document you started editing on another device with the tap of a button, and iCloud takes care of the rest. But this only goes for apps that support Apple's method, and other services have their own kind of Handoff or Continuity built-in.

Google offers a similar solution for Android, Chrome OS, and Windows called Nearby Share. Thanks to a third-party app, it's also available on macOS. The open source app is called NearDrop, and you can download it from GitHub. Once you've installed it and set it up on your computer, you can send files, links, and anything else you can imagine from your phone to your computer, but only after you learn how to use Nearby Share on your phone. The only caveat we need to point out is that it can sometimes take excruciatingly long for Macs to show up in Nearby Share on your phone.

Cloud storage is an alternative to Apple's Handoff and Google's Nearby Share. You might never miss these two methods if you're deeply engrained in Google Workspace or Microsoft Office and OneDrive. You can work on a Google Docs or Microsoft Word document on your phone and then seamlessly have it available on your MacBook when you store your files in the cloud. The same goes for basic photo editing in Google Photos. Everything is neatly synced with the Photos web app in your browser. These sync methods work across Android phones and computers that support any browser. They could make you feel like you don't miss out compared to folks who have an iPhone and MacBook.

For document scanning, you can use Google Drive or Microsoft Office. While macOS lets you insert a photo or document from an iPhone's camera using a simple shortcut, that's not a game changer if you can use the former two methods on your phone. Apple's option lets you insert the photo taken on your iPhone into an existing document opened on your Mac. With a few extra clicks, you can achieve the same with Google Drive, Photos, or Microsoft OneDrive.

While it's possible to move files back and forth between Macs and Android phones using a USB-C cable, the best ways to sync files are Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. Any cloud service, except iCloud, could serve you well when you want an easy way to sync files across Android and macOS.

AirDrop, tab syncing, and phone calls: Chrome

iPhones and Macs work in tandem when you want to sync your open tabs and send files back and forth between the two. However, the benefits are only available when you use Safari on both. And here, Android, macOS, and Chrome can be an equally good match.

Screenshot showing Google Chrome's sync data options

Chrome allows you to sync your browsing history, logins, open tabs, and more across Android and macOS. While it won't let you call phone numbers from your Mac, Chrome offers an option to send numbers from websites to your phone, which you can then use to place the call. Chrome lets you send links to your phone via the right-click menu and vice versa. This isn't a system-wide, fully integrated solution, but it's good enough for the most part.

Clipboard sharing: Clipt

If you want seamless clipboard syncing like Apple offers between iPhone, iPad, and macOS, you won't find an equally elegant solution for Android and Mac. Android 10 and higher don't allow background apps to see what you currently have in your clipboard, with keyboards being the only exception. That's good if you have a Windows computer that offers clipboard syncing through SwiftKey, but we haven't found a similar solution on Mac.

OneLab's Clipt might offer a workaround that is good enough. Clipt supports clipboard syncing from Chrome to Android. To get stuff from your phone to show up in your MacBook's clipboard, you'll tap an extra button in a permanent notification or a quick settings tile in your notification shade. It's not as seamless as it could be, but it's something.

You can also use scrcpy to achieve something similar, but it's a more involved process. You need to be comfortable with the terminal and install ADB and scrcpy on your MacBook to get started. On your phone, you'll enable developer options and allow debugging, preferably wirelessly. You can then mirror your phone screen to your computer and copy and paste back and forth as you need.

When it comes to clipboard syncing, staying in the Apple ecosystem has its benefits. iPhones and Macs allow for perfectly synchronized clipboards at all times, as long as both devices are connected to the internet.

Living your life as a double agent

As someone with an Android phone and a MacBook, you'll miss out on a few things. You can't use an Apple Watch or iPhone to unlock your laptop, and you can't automatically share Wi-Fi networks across Android and macOS. Things like clipboard sharing aren't as seamless as they could be. However, it is possible to make your Android phone and Mac work together better, and we hope these tips help you.

If you have a Chromebook or a Windows PC, things are better. On Windows, install Windows Your Phone to sync your computer with your Android phone. And on Chromebooks, some integrations are supported thanks to the Phone Hub.