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A bit familiar feature from iMessage lets any Mac send files to another iMessage user (or yourself) with an iOS device and vice versa. Yes, this means that iMessages can function as a full-fledged file transfer app for both Mac OS and iOS users, providing easy transfer of files, PDFs, text and RTF documents, movies, images and just about anything else.
To use this great feature, make sure iMessage is set up up also in iOS and / or the Messages for Mac client. If you have both, you can send files between yourself and your Apple devices, but if you only have a Mac or an iOS device, you can still send files to other users through the messaging apps. Once you have configured the necessary apps, use the feature is surprisingly simple, here it is how to do it:
How to Send files between Mac OS X and iOS with iMessage
Sending files from a Mac is simply a drag and drop operation, then opening the file in iOS:
- Drag a file from the Mac to a chat window in Messages
- Click send from Mac
- The user on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iMessages receives the file in a familiar way for iChat file transfers
The iOS user can then open the file, be it an mp3, video, photo or whatever. This is a great one feature that’s easy to use and welcome for all Mac and iOS users. It can go both ways, so you can send files from mobile devices back to the desktop world.
How to Send files from iOS to Mac OS X via messages
There are two ways to send files from iOS through the Messages app, one uses Copy and Paste and the other uses the more traditional approach to sharing from the Photos app:
- Use the tap-and-hold feature in iOS to access “Copy”
- Open the Messages app and in a message to the user you want to send the file to, tap and hold and choose ‘Paste’
- Send the message as usual to transfer the file
Sending files through the Sharing feature is also possible in some apps such as Photos, which allows you to send movies and photos from the Camera Roll to a Mac.
All you need to do is tap Share button then choose Message and select the correct recipient.
Any file saved from the Messages app to iPhone or iPad can be found in the Photos app or Files app, depending on what you’ve done with it.
Use iMessage with unsupported file types and as an SFTP alternative
What is less known now is that you can technically transfer almost any file type between the two operating systems using the same technique, even with obscure file formats.
This means that iMessage can be used as a simple method to move files to an iOS device without using SSH and SFTP, although the destination folder of these files has some limitations.
Files sent to and received by the iOS device up at the following location:
/ var /mobile/ Library / SMS /
This is where the limitation comes into play.
Access to that folder is not possible without a jailbreak and an app like iFile to navigate the hidden iOS file system, and moving files within the iOS file system afterwards requires an SSH client like Prompt, in addition to some command line knowledge .
This makes it a useful one feature for advanced users who are comfortable with jailbreaking, but for the average person, sending anything other than standard media files and documents is not that convenient.
A lingering question now is whether Apple will maintain support for each file type, or whether Messages will only work to handle certain file types on the Mac, iPhone or iPad. Let’s hope it stays, for the sake of file sharing and convenience.
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