How to Use AirDrop on Your iPhone

How to Use AirDrop on Your iPhone

Learn how to AirDrop from your iPhone to your Mac or other devices

AirDrop lets you share photos, documents, and other files wirelessly

with other nearby AirDrop users. It's the easiest way to share files with other iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers without having to rely on file transfer methods like email or cloud storage services. Once you enable AirDrop on your iPhone, you can accept files from other AirDrop-enabled devices around you. There are multiple ways to enable AirDrop on your phone depending on who you want to be able to see your phone when they try to AirDrop files.

Which Apps Support AirDrop?

Many of the pre-installed apps that come with the iOS can be used with AirDrop. This includes Photos, Notes, Safari, Contacts, and Maps. This means you can share things like photos and videos, websites, address book entries, text files, and much more. Some third-party apps support AirDrop, too, to let you share their content. However, it's up to each developer to include AirDrop support in their apps, so not everything you download from the App Store will work with AirDrop.

AirDrop Requirements

  • An iPhone 5 or newer, a 5th generation iPod touch or newer, an iPad mini, or 4th generation iPad or newer
  • iOS 7 or higher
  • A Mac from 2012 or later
  • A Mac running OS X Yosemite (10.10) or higher
  • Another iOS or Mac user with an AirDrop-compatible device
  • Bluetooth turned on
  • Connection to a ??Wi-Fi network
  • The person you want to share content with must be nearby (AirDrop doesn't work over the internet)

 

How to Enable AirDrop on Your iPhone

To use AirDrop, you have to make sure the settings are set up correctly, which you can do in the Settings app. Some versions of iOS work a little differently, though, so you might need to follow the second set of steps below.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap AirDrop.
  4. Choose an appropriate setting:
    1. Receiving Off disables your phone from receiving AirDrop requests, so nearby devices will not see your phone when they attempt to share files. However, you can still send files to others.
    2. Contacts Only lets you use AirDrop only with people in your address book. This gives you the most privacy but also limits the number of people who can share files with you.
    3. Everyone does just what it says: lets everyone around you attempt to share files with you over AirDrop. 

If you don't have these settings on your phone, then you have an older iOS version, but you can still turn on AirDrop. 

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open Control Center.
  2. Tap the AirDrop button.
    1. This button should be in the middle, next to the AirPlay Mirroring button.
  3. Choose who you want to be able to see your phone.

How to Share Over AirDrop

With AirDrop turned on, you can use it to share content from any app that supports it. 

  1. Open the app that has the content you want to share.
    1. For example, open the built-in Photos app to share pictures or videos you've saved to your phone.
  2. Select the file you want to share over AirDrop.
    1. If the app supports it, AirDrop lets you share multiple files at once. In the Photos app, for example, select multiple images or videos.
  3. Tap the action box, identified by a rectangle with an arrow coming out of it.
  4. Tap the device you want to share the content with.
    1. Icons of all the nearby AirDrop-enabled devices are shown in the Tap to share with AirDrop section.

After you send the content over AirDrop, there's nothing left for you to do but wait for the other user to accept the transfer. You'll see a "Waiting…" message in the meantime, and then "Sending" during the transfer, followed by "Sent" once they receive your file(s). If the other user declines your AirDrop request, you'll see a red "Declined" message instead.

How to Accept or Decline an AirDrop Transfer

When someone else sends you data over AirDrop, a window pops up with a small preview of the content. You have two options: Accept or Decline. If you tap Accept, the file(s) will be saved to your device and/or opened in the appropriate app. For example, accepting a transfer of images over AirDrop will save the photos to your phone and then open them in the Photos app, URLs will launch in the Safari browser, etc. If you tap Decline, the transfer is canceled and the other user will be told that you declined the request.

Note: If you're sharing a file with a device that's logged in with the same Apple ID you're logged in with, that device will not be shown the Accept or Decline pop-up message. Since both devices are assumed to be your own, the transfer is accepted automatically.

AirDrop Troubleshooting

If AirDrop doesn't work, there's a good chance that you've not enabled it from the settings (see item No. 1 above), or that you have but you've only set sharing to contacts, and the person who's trying to send you something is not in your address book.However, if you've already checked those settings, and so has the other user, but AirDrop still doesn't work, there are a few troubleshooting tips you can try.

  • Enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: AirDrop requires that both you and the other person have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled.
  • Disable Your Personal Hotspot: If you're using a Personal Hotspot while trying to also use AirDrop, disable it. AirDrop doesn't work simultaneously with hotspots.
  • Move Closer: AirDrop is based on Bluetooth, so it has Bluetooth's range limitations. Move within about two dozen feet (preferably closer) of the person you're sharing files with.

Article Produced By
Sam Costello

"I'm fascinated by and enthusiastic about technology. I value technology that helps people and makes our lives better, that improves our time and our relationships. When assessing a new technology or writing about how to perform a task, I take a human-centered approach that focuses on helping people do things better."

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