Smartphones and computers are awesome tools that can help you get a lot of work done. As technology grows even more powerful, the lines between them are being blurred, and you can use a phone to perform tasks that used to be possible only on your desktop, such as editing images and using an office suite.
However, as advanced as mobile devices are, going back and forth between a phone and PC can be jarring, especially when you’re trying to share files between them (how many times have you emailed a file to yourself?) or text when you’re at your desk. If you’re someone who uses multiple devices like this, you’re going to love Pushbullet.
Getting Set Up
Heading to Pushbullet’s website will allow you to grab its app for all of your devices. This guide will focus on the Android version, since Pushbullet has the most functionality on it, but most of the advice also applies to its iOS counterpart. There is also a Windows program, though it’s currently in beta, and a Mac app is coming soon. Finally, there’s a Chrome extension and a Firefox add-on.
It seems like a lot to be running, but for best results, you should install the app on every device you own. At its core, Pushbullet is all about the easy transfer of information between all of your devices, so the more you have tied together, the better. Note that the Chrome extension is prettier and slightly superior to the Firefox version, since it includes additional functionality that I’ll explain later.
On Android, after you install the app, you’ll have to sign in with your Google account; make sure to use the same one across every device you put Pushbullet on. Beyond signing in, all you’ll need to do is enable the notification mirroring service so that the app can function correctly. You’ll be walked through this in the setup, but in case you need to find it later, head to Settings > Security > Notification Access on your device, and make sure Pushbullet is enabled.
Now that Android is done, you just need to pick a browser on your desktop and install its appropriate extension. The steps are the same for iOS, Chrome, and Firefox: install it, open it, and sign in with the same Google Account. That’s it — now you’re using Pushbullet! Pushing to Android or iOS puts an entry into the notification bar, while Chrome gives an interactive bubble when it receives a push.
Whenever you’re using one device and want to send what you’re working on to another, that’s where Pushbullet comes in. Let’s say you want to make yourself a quick note to text your coworker later, but you don’t have your phone handy. Simply open the Pushbullet extension, choose the destination device, and go!
As you see in the picture, you can actually choose what type of push to send. Your options are:
- Note: What you see pictured above; this lets you simply send text of any kind.
- Link: Sends a URL with its title, along with any notes you may want to include. When you then click it on your phone, it opens it in your default browser.
- File: Ever wanted to get a screenshot off your phone for some quick editing or blurring before you share it online? How about when you’re setting up your Android as a retro emulator and placing ROM files on your phone manually takes too long? Pushbullet requires you to use its web interface (instead of the extension) to push files, but you can work with anything under 25 MB. It’s way faster than using a Dropbox folder to move files, though if you’re working with larger files, you’ll have to go that route.
- List: Need a quick grocery list for your last-minute shopping trip? Type it up before you leave your computer, push it to your phone, and it will be ready for you when you need it. Once it’s been sent, you can check the individual boxes off.
- Address is the final type of push; it allows you to send street names or other places to your devices. At first glance it seems to be not much different from a Note, but there’s a key difference: if you push a correctly formatted address, it will open up in Google Maps on your Android. It may not be useful to you if you don’t use your phone for navigation, but it’s a lot better than finding an address on the web and having to type out its long name again on your phone.
When you’re pushing from Android, you’ll see a sixth item, Photo, but that’s just File made a bit more convenient by showing all of your photos.
Assuming you set everything up correctly and put all of your devices on the same Google account, when you push you’ll also be able to choose which device you want to send it to. You can even send it to every one you have registered if you like.
You can get doing most of the work through the extension, but if you visit the website, you can view all of your previous pushes and rename devices if you need to. You’ll likely want to check this after getting set up, since the default device names are probably ugly.
Finally, you can add friends to your Pushbullet account. Just enter their name and email after clicking the + Friend button under your devices, and they’ll get a link to join easily if they aren’t already a member.
The possibilities here are endless — instead of emailing or texting someone a link to a YouTube video, push it and it’s there waiting for them! Push a last-minute grocery list to your spouse, or send a ready-to-use address to your friends to direct them to your house. Experiment with this one!
This is where Pushbullet starts to get even sweeter. Whenever you hear your phone go off, you’re not sure if it’s an annoying social media notification or an important text you need to respond to immediately. With Pushbullet, however, that worry is in the past. With some quick toggles, you can make the Chrome or Firefox extension display every notification that comes through your Android. The old way to do this wasn’t as polished and required more complex setup.
This feature isn’t available on iOS yet, but the team is hard at work on implementing it. To make it happen, simply make sure that Notification Mirroring service is enabled on Android (which we covered in the beginning of this article), then head into the Chrome extension settings by clicking the Pushbullet icon, then Options. Once there, head to the Notifications tab.
You must have “Show my phone’s notifications on my computer” checked, and it will automagically sync. The other options are self-explanatory and up to your preference. Here’s what you should get when it’s done:
To test this on your own device, head into the Android app’s Settings. From there, go to Android-to-PC notification settings, where you’ll be able to send a test notification. If you see it in your browser, you’re good to go!
While in these settings, it’s a good idea to look into “turn on or off for specific apps” and disable any apps that you don’t want notifications for in your browser. For example, if you use a battery indicator app that has a persistent notification, you don’t want it popping up every ten seconds.
This is the same thing as clicking “Stop showing notifications” when a pop-up comes up; if you’ve accidentally clicked that at some point, you can fix it here.
Here’s what you’ll get in Chrome (or Windows) when you get a notification on your phone:
As you can see, Pushbullet allows you to respond quickly to text messages, too. It used to be limited to just a few SMS apps, but the function should work with nearly all of them now. It’s a pretty basic composer, designed to fire off quick replies, but it’s quite handy and nice if you don’t want a full solution like AirDroid.
If you’re getting sick of Pushbullet notifications, say while you’re watching a movie or playing a game full screen, you can snooze them. Head back into Chrome’s options, and right at the top you’ll see a big green button that lets you suppress all notices for an hour.
If an hour at a time isn’t enough for you, you can always disable the extension until you’re ready to start it up again. Also of interest here is the option to keep the extension running while Chrome is closed, which is awesome if you don’t want to leave your browser open but still want to be notified.
Finally, the last feature to take note of is that you can disable the notifications on your phone from Chrome! For instance, when a popup comes up alerting you that you have a new email, you can jump into the email on your PC and deal with it — you don’t need to leave that notification on your phone for later. When something like that pops up, click “Dismiss” and it will be banished from your phone! How cool is that?
If you ever need to doublecheck a notification that escaped you, head into Chrome’s notification center in your Notification Tray (bottom right corner of the Windows desktop), and you can review old pushes. Mac users, check your Notification Center.
Pushbullet on Firefox and Windows
Earlier, I stated that the Chrome app can do more than its Firefox counterpart. You’ll still get a great experience from Pushbullet if you use Firefox, it just won’t be optimal. For starters, the only option that Firefox gives you is to turn off notifications completely. You can’t snooze them, mute the sound, or hide the body of the message. If you’re not a power user you might not mind, but it’s lame to have to put up with this somewhat inferior experience. A Firefox push looks like this:
Clicking on a text message pop-up will allow you to quick-reply, but you can’t dismiss it on your phone like in Chrome. Overall, it’s not a difference that will likely make you switch to Chrome, but it’s something to consider.
The Windows app adds another small layer of convenience to the service; you can use it to display notifications from your phone if you don’t want an extension running in your browser, and it also allows you to change the screen position of its pop-ups. The coolest part about installing it is being able to add Pushbullet to your right-click menu so you can push files instantly — way faster than uploading them through the website if you do it all the time.
You’d think that Pushbullet’s bag of tricks would be empty by now, but there’s one more worth mentioning. With the Windows app and Android apps working together, you can enable the Universal Copy & Paste feature, which does exactly what it advertises. When you copy text on your PC, it will be on the clipboard of your phone, ready to go. Is this futuristic or what?
To get it running, just head into the settings once again on the Android app, and enable “Universal copy & paste” under Advanced Settings. In Windows, simply find Pushbullet in your Notification Tray, right click it, choose Settings, and check the “Universal copy & paste” box. That’s it — you’re all set!
Here’s a little twist: install an app that automatically shortens URLs on Android, like ShortPaste, and whenever you copy a link on your PC, it will sync to your Android’s clipboard from Pushbullet and automatically shorten from the app! I discovered this accidentally, but it’s a sweet trick that is great for people who post links on social media frequently.
Isn’t Pushbullet amazing? That’s really the only word to describe it; that such a polished app fulfills a need and does it for free without advertising is mind-blowing. Pushbullet is constantly getting better, so it’s anyone’s guess what features will come next.
There’s even an IFTTT channel for Pushbullet, which gives hundreds more possible combinations. We’ve covered IFTTT numerous times, even with a full guide and an Android walkthrough; so you can check those out for more. IFTTT can also show you the most popular Pushbullet recipes for some inspiration.
Will you try out Pushbullet? What’s your favorite feature? Is there an app you like better? Speak out in the comments!