Wanting an iMac to complement my MacBook Air... How does this Continuity stuff work?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by DDustiNN, Jan 15, 2015.

  1. DDustiNN macrumors 68000


    Jan 27, 2011
    Quick background:

    I have a 2011 MacBook Air that I mostly use for web browsing (lots of tabs open), iPhone app development with Xcode & iOS Simulator (usually 2-3 projects open simultaneously), and some Photoshop. Lesser-used stuff is Microsoft Office, Notes (syncs with my phone instantly, which is awesome), and a couple other smaller things I can't think of off the top of my head at the moment.

    I'm looking to get an iMac to replace my Windows laptop (which is stationary anyway), because I've grown to love the trackpad gestures in OS X. It would be used as a media server, Line6 GuitarPort adapter and software (hopefully, if compatible), music mixing and editing, and probably all of the above in the MackBook Air paragraph. Since it would be an upgrade from my 2008 HP laptop, I'd probably also play some games that I have been putting off due to hardware limitations. I'm leaning toward the i7 5K.

    Now here are my dilemmas:
    1. I have a 2TB external hard drive that I use for my media server. I understand that that Macs don't like NTFS without some fiddling. Can I easily connect and read this hard drive with the iMac, without having to reformat it?
    2. To piggyback off that... What kind of options would I have for an NAS solution? I just bought "smart" router that has a USB port for connecting a hard drive. I am able to connect the hard drive there, then access it as a network drive on both my Windows laptop and MacBook, as well as a built-in media server which my TV can connect to via WiFi. It is 100% exactly what I wanted... Except that it frequently disconnects from my TV during streaming. When I use my Windows laptop with Samsung's media server software, I have never had a single disconnect. So I would like to return this router and find another similar network solution, if possible.
    3. And now to further piggback off that idea... How can I keep my iMac and MacBook Air "synced"? What I mean is... I would like to be able to work on an Xcode project on my iMac, and then continue working on that same project using my MacBook Air, perhaps if I felt like sitting on the couch and watching some TV while programming. Is this possible at all? I'm not familiar with this new Continuity and Handoff stuff. If that's not possible, one idea I had was to have the projects stored on the network drive from #2 above, then I can just open them on each machine and they would always be up-to-date. I was just hoping there was a better solution, as I would ideally like to have local copies on each machine, but keep them in sync with each other and updated at all times. Any ideas?
    I hope all of this makes sense. I usually just use my two computers for separate things, but I'd like to sort of combine them like I described above.

    Thanks in advance for any help!
  2. DDustiNN thread starter macrumors 68000


    Jan 27, 2011
  3. cairene2011 Guest

    Dec 17, 2013
    I think the 2011 MBAs cannot handle handoff/continuity due to some Wifi-related incompatibility (?).

    Sorry for the clumsy answer, I'm obviously not a tech person, only an ex-owner of a 2011 MBA that I couldn't get to do handoff with my 2014 iPad mini, no matter what I tried.
  4. Ledgem macrumors 68000


    Jan 18, 2008
    Hawaii, USA
    1. Macs can read NTFS volumes without any trouble by default. You only need to start looking into additional software solutions if you want to write to those volumes. So the short answer to your question is "yes."

    2. I don't have a good solution to this. All I can say is that Apple's Airport Extreme routers have a USB port for drives shared on a network and I have yet to hear of anyone having disconnect issues with them. Then again, I haven't gone looking for those types of issues. The Airport Extreme may seem pricey, but it is hands-down the most stable router I have ever used.

    3. Continuity only works with applications that support it. At this time that includes the iWork suite (Pages, Numbers, Keynote), emails (using Apple Mail), and text messaging (at least, between iOS devices). I don't know that Continuity works between Macs; I believe at this time it only works between iOS devices, or an iOS device and a Mac. On top of that, it may be a moot point, since Continuity requires a Mid-2012 Macbook Air or later and yours unfortunately doesn't qualify. For the curious, the hardware reason is that Continuity requires Bluetooth 4.0 support, although there are some Macs that have Bluetooth 4.0 that have artificially been blacklisted by Apple.

    Sharing folders between Macs on the same network is fairly easy. For what you want to do, an even easier solution might be to simply share the screen of your iMac from your Macbook Air. OS X has this capability built in and it's very easy to switch on and use. The downside is that you'll be remoting in to a larger display from a smaller display, instead of having all document windows perfectly sized and arranged for the smaller screen. Regardless, I've found inter-network operability between Macs to be far easier than on Windows (although I admit that I haven't used Windows 8, and spent only a little time with Vista and 7), and it doesn't require any additional software. You have some options that you can try without spending any additional money.

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