About me: My name is Solène Rapenne, pronouns she/her. I like learning and sharing knowledge. Hobbies: '(BSD OpenBSD h+ Lisp cmdline gaming internet-stuff). I love percent and lambda characters. OpenBSD developer solene@.

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Easy text transmission from computer to smartphone

Written by Solène, on 25 March 2021.
Tags: #opensource

Comments on Mastodon


Today I will share with you a simple way I found to transmit text from my computer to my phone. I often have to do it, to type a password, enter an url, copy/paste a message or whatever reasons.

Using QR codes

The best way to get a text from computer to a smartphone (that I am aware of) is scanning a QR code using the camera. By using the command qrencode (I already wrote about this one), xclip and feh (a picture viewer), it is possible to generate QR code on the fly on the screen.

Is it as simple as running the following command, from a menu or a key binding:

xclip -o | qrencode -o - -t PNG | feh -g 600x600 -Z - 

Using this command, xclip will gives the clipboard to qrencode which will create a PNG file on stdout and then feh will display it on a 600 by 600 window, no temporary file involved here.

Once the picture is displayed on the screen, you can use a scanner program on your phone to gather the content, I found "QR & Barcode Scanner" to be really light, fast and usable with its history, available on F-Droid.

QR & Barcode Scanner on F-Droid

Composing a quite long text on your computer and sharing it to the phone can be done with sending the text to xclip and then generate the QR code.

Going further

When it comes to sharing data between my phone and my computer, I love "primitive ftpd" which is a SFTP/FTP server for Android, it works out of the box and allow secure transfers over Wifi (use SFTP please!).

primitive ftpd on F-Droid

For simple transfers, I use "Share to Computer" that will share a file or a group of files as a zip on a temporary http server, it is then easy to connect to it to save the file.

Share to Computer on F-Droid

For sending SMS through my phone but from my computer, I use the program KDE Connect (it has to be installed on phone and computer), I wanted to write about it for a long time but it's not easy to explain how to get it to work and uneasy to explain its usage. But it allows me to receive phone notifications on my computer and also send SMS. I have simple aliases in my shell like "mom-sms hello are you ?" to ease my use of SMS. When possible, don't use SMS, it's not secure. The program does a lot more than sending SMS, like using the smartphone as a remote touchpad as one example.

KDE Connect on F-Droid