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Apple has made it much easier to use the iPhone widget in macOS Sonoma, even if you only have the iOS app and don't have the corresponding Mac one. It's easy, but not obvious, and the results are mixed. Here's how to use them.
It’s not entirely correct to say that Apple was in a hurry to release widgets for the iPhone, because setting them up is very quick. To take a widget you have on your iPhone and add it to your Mac, you'll need certain things:
- macOS Sonoma
- iOS 17
- The Mac and iPhone must be physically close to each other.
- Both devices must be on the same Wi-Fi network.
- Both devices must be signed in to the same Apple ID.
Once you have them, you will have iPhone widgets on Mac — you just need to find and use them.
The process of adding an iPhone widget is exactly the same as adding a regular macOS Sonoma widget. You start by right-clicking an empty space on your desktop or bringing up the same widget sidebar familiar from macOS Ventura.
Either way, you click Edit Widgets, and a new widget picker appears at the bottom of your Mac screen.
If you were adding a regular Mac widget, you would simply need to find the Mac app that provides it, or scroll and click the list of pickers. To add a widget only for iPhone — you do the same.
All widgets available to you on your iPhone will now appear in the Mac Widget Picker. And you select them just like you select Mac widgets.
Which is, of course, a very good thing, but Apple could be a lot clearer about this. The new Mac Widget Picker differentiates between Mac and iPhone widgets, but you have to know where to look.
Until you do this, it can be confusing. If, for example, you have the same app on a Mac and an iPhone, this widget drawer will contain two entries — with the same name.
It is quite possible that they also have the same widgets. It's impossible to tell the Mac and iPhone versions apart just by looking at them, you have to click on each one.
When you do this, the phrase “From iPhone” will appear on your iPhone in small gray letters. Mac doesn't say anything at all.
It would be nice to be able to show just the iPhone widgets, or somehow see which iOS app without having to go through each one.
But if you know the widget and know what app you need, you can simply drag it from the widget picker and place it anywhere.
There is a problem
There is just a problem with using the iPhone app widget on a Mac. The thing is that the widget will still be the interface of the application, and on the Mac there is no such application.
So with an audio widget like Audible or BBC Sounds, for example, you can't control anything, you can't play anything.
Instead, when you click on apps, they display an error such as “Open Audible on iPhone to continue.”
This is because widgets used to be nothing more than information displays, but now they can be interactive. As developers work on their apps and widgets, we hope widgets can do more than just tell you to take out your iPhone.
However, it is likely that some limitation like this will always exist. Apple wants you to be able to use iOS widgets in macOS Sonoma even if you don't have the corresponding Mac app, but that should limit the functionality.
If a widget can't call back to its host app on a Mac, say, to stream audio, it's unlikely that it can call back to its iPhone app for you.
So, at least for now, the ability to add an iPhone widget to a Mac is great – in very specific circumstances.
But despite all the limitations, this new ability to add an iPhone-only widget to a Mac is easy to implement – — and potentially very useful.