Mac Fixes

AirDrop Not Working on Mac

Often, AirDrop won’t work because of a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth issue. Resetting these connections can be enough to get AirDrop working again. Simply click or tap the Wi-Fi icon in your Control Center on your Mac and iPhone to turn Wi-Fi off. Click the icon again to turn it back on. Do the same with Bluetooth, then try AirDrop again.

 

If you still find AirDrop not working on your Mac, it could be caused by one of many different issues—including incorrect settings and too big a distance between the devices you’re trying to use AirDrop with. We’ll explore the most common issues in our article—move on to get our insights and tips.

 

Before we start

 

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What is AirDrop?

AirDrop is a file transfer solution for Apple devices, which lets you send and receive files on iOS and macOS devices. For example, you can AirDrop from iPhone to MacBook or iMac, if needed.

Why is AirDrop not showing up on Mac?

When it’s working properly, using AirDrop on your Mac is simple. Open AirDrop in Finder, and it should show you all the AirDrop-enabled Apple devices on your local network. If it’s not enabled or can’t see other Apple devices, you’ll need to do some troubleshooting to get it working. Move to the next section to see how to solve the issue.

How to fix AirDrop on Mac

These are some of the most common fixes for issues with AirDrop:

  1. Enable AirDrop on your Mac
  2. Make devices visible for AirDrop
  3. Use one Wi-Fi network for all devices
  4. Unlock devices
  5. Reduce the distance between the devices
  6. Turn your personal hotspot off on iOS
  7. Restart Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  8. Unlock the firewall to AirDrop
  9. Restart your Mac and other devices
  10. Update macOS on your Mac
  11. Update iOS

1. Enable AirDrop on your Mac

First, you should make sure AirDrop is turned on. Follow these steps:

  1. In a Finder window, select AirDrop in the sidebar.
  2. In the Allow me to be discovered by pop-up menu, choose an option.
Open up a Finder window, then click on AirDrop in the sidebar. This will show you all the devices that your Mac is currently able to see.
Step 1. Select AirDrop
Next, you need to decide which devices can see your Mac. You can set this to contacts only or let everyone see your Mac for AirDropping.
Step 2. Choose your discoverability

2. Make devices visible for AirDrop

As well as on your Mac, you need to enable AirDrop visibility on your other devices. Here’s how:

  1. Swipe from the top right of your iPhone or iPad screen, then tap and hold the AirDrop icon in the iOS Control Center.
  2. Select one of the options in your iOS Settings, under General > AirDrop.
Using your iPhone or iPad's Control Center, you can quickly change your AirDrop settings. Choose 'Contacts only' or 'Everyone for 10 Minutes'.
Step 1. Use Control Center to change iOS AirDrop settings
As well as using Control Center, you can change your iOS device's AirDrop setting from the main Settings app under General > Airdrop.
Step 2. You can also control AirDrop from the iOS Settings app

3. Use one Wi-Fi network for all devices

If you find AirDrop not showing up on Mac, ensure both your Mac and the device you’re trying to connect with are both on the same Wi-Fi network. This isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s the recommended way to use AirDrop.

 

Here’s how to check your Wi-Fi connection on macOS and iOS:

  1. On your Mac, click the Wi-Fi icon in the top right of your screen, in the menu bar. Check the name of your current Wi-Fi connection.
  2. Now, on your iPhone or iPad, swipe down from the top right, then tap and hold the Wi-Fi icon. This will reveal the name of your Wi-Fi connection, and it should be the same as your Mac’s Wi-Fi.
On your Mac, go to System Settings > Network, and check the name of your current Wi-Fi connection. Make a note of this, because you'll need to compare it to your iOS connection.
Step 1. Check your Mac's Wi-Fi connection
On your iPhone or iPad, swipe down to reveal your Control Center. You should see the name of your current Wi-Fi connection. Compare it to your Mac's connection.
Step 2. Compare your iPhone or iPad's Wi-Fi

4. Unlock devices

Sometimes, you may find your Mac won’t accept AirDrop connections because it’s in sleep mode or the screen is locked. Unlock your Mac and the other device before trying to use AirDrop:

  1. On your Mac, press some keys on your keyboard to wake macOS, then enter your password on the lock screen. You can also use other unlock methods if you have them set up.
  2. Unlock your iPhone using your fingerprint, Face ID, password, or whatever unlock method you set.
Before trying AirDrop, make sure your Mac is unlocked. Enter your password to unlock your Mac and then try AirDrop again.
Step 1. Unlock your Mac with your password
You'll also need to unlock your iPhone or iPad. This may involve using Face ID, a fingerprint, or a code. Just make sure your phone is ready for AirDrop.
Step 2. Unlock your iOS device

5. Reduce the distance between the devices

AirDrop uses a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to create a connection and transfer data. If your devices are more than around 30 feet (or around 10 meters) apart, you may have issues with your Mac or MacBook not receiving AirDrop transfers. Move them closer together and try again.

6. Turn your personal hotspot off on your iOS

You can’t use your iPhone or iPad’s personal hotspot feature and AirDrop at the same time.

 

To turn off the hotspot:

  1. Swipe down from the top right to reveal your iPhone or iPad Control Center. Tap and hold one of the icons in the top left to reveal the hotspot icon.
  2. If the Personal Hotspot icon is green, your hotspot is active.
  3. Tap the Personal Hotspot icon to turn it off.
Check your iOS devices Control Center. If you don't see the Personal Hotspot icon, tap and hold any of the other icons in the top left box.
Step 1. Reveal your Control Center
If the Personal Hotspot icon is green, that means your personal hotspot is active, and you won't be able to use AirDrop.
Step 2. Check if your hotspot is on
Turning off your personal hotspot is easy, Just tap the green Personal Hotspot icon, so it isn't green anymore.
Step 3. Turn off your hotspot

7. Restart Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Turning your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on and off again may be enough to get AirDrop working properly.

 

To reset Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on your Mac and iPhone:

  1. Open your Mac’s System Settings. Select Bluetooth, then use the switch at the top to toggle Bluetooth off and on again.
  2. Still in System Settings, go to Network > Wi-Fi, and use the switch at the top to cycle your Wi-Fi off and on.
  3. On your iPhone or iPad, just tap the Wi-Fi icon to turn the Wi-Fi off and on. Now, do the same with the Bluetooth icon.
In System Settings > Bluetooth, you'll see a switch at the top. Turn it off then on again, and try to use AirDrop again.
Step 1. Turn your Bluetooth off and on again
Stay in System Settings, but this time, go to Network > Wi-Fi. Turn your Wi-Fi off and back on using the switch at the top.
Step 2. Toggle your Mac's Wi-Fi too

8. Unlock the firewall to AirDrop

It’s possible for your Mac’s built-in firewall to block AirDrop. Here’s how to turn it off if you’re having connection issues:

  1. In System Settings, select Network > Firewall.
  2. Click the Options button.
  3. Make sure the Block all incoming connections option is turned off. Click OK when you’re done.
In System Settings, go to Network > Firewall. The 'light' here should be green, showing you the firewall is active.
Step 1. Open your Network settings
From here, you can turn the macOS firewall on and off. Make sure it's on, but click the Options button in the bottom right.
Step 2. Click Options
In the firewall options, make sure that 'Block all incoming connections' isn't enabled. If it is, this will stop AirDrop from working.
Step 3. Make incoming connections are allowed

9. Restart your Mac and other devices

Restarting your Mac and other devices may help when AirDropping files aren’t working. Here’s how:

  1. On your Mac, select Apple > Restart in the menu bar, then click Restart.
  2. On your iOS device, press and hold power and either volume button. Use the slider to turn off your device, then turn the device back on.
Restart by selecting Apple > Restart from your menu bar. When your Mac has restarted, try to use AirDrop again.
Step 1. Restart your Mac
Press and hold volume up or down and power on your iOS device, then use the slide to power down. Turn it back on and try AirDropping again.
Step 2. Turn your iPhone or iPad off

10. Update macOS on your Mac

For smooth, flawless AirDrop performance, your Mac should be running the latest version of macOS.

 

Update your Mac like this:

  1. Open System Settings, and go to General > Software Update. Click Update Now.
  2. Click Agree.
Check your Mac's System Settings to see if there are any updates available. These may be able to fix your issues with AirDrop.
Step 1. Click Update Now
When prompted, click 'Agree' to apply the macOS update. You may also need to restart your Mac. Try AirDrop again after the update is done.
Step 2. Click Agree

11. Update iOS

Your iOS devices should be up-to-date, too if you’re using AirDrop. The process is the same as macOS:

  1. Open System Settings, and select General. If there’s an update, select Update Now.
  2. Wait until your iOS device has finished verifying and installing the update.
If your iPhone or iPad has any available, they'll appear in the Settings app. Check under General > Software Update.
Step 1. Check iOS Settings for updates
Let the iOS update complete. Your iPhone or iPad may need to restart during this process. Try again AirDrop again when it's done.
Step 2.  Let the iOS update finish

Hint from our team: 

 

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Alternatives to AirDrop

Should you fail to get AirDrop working on your Mac, there are plenty of other ways to get files from one device to another, including:

  1. Use iCloud Drive
  2. Use OneDrive or Google Drive
  3. Use an external hard drive

1. Use iCloud Drive

As Apple’s in-house cloud service, iCloud gives you a central way to manage a lot of your Apple experiences, which involves letting you sync contacts from iPhone to Mac.

 

iCloud is a fantastic choice for file storage and transfer. Macs, iPhones, and iPads all come with iCloud functionality. Simply upload files to iCloud from one device, then view and download them on one of your other Apple devices.

Sharing files between your Apple devices is easy with iCloud. It lets you upload and download files to a central location.
iCloud can be accessed across your Apple devices

2. Use OneDrive or Google Drive

Although iCloud may be the natural choice for many Apple fans, there are plenty of third-party cloud storage apps as well. Two of the most popular are OneDrive and Google Drive. Both can be accessed through a web browser, but for maximum effectiveness, you should install the macOS and iOS apps.

3. Use an external hard drive

Finally, you can simply store files on an external drive. You could use a USB drive, but that would mean connecting the drive to one device, getting the files you want to share, and then connecting the drive to the other device. You can save time and effort by storing shared data on a network-attached storage location. That way, your Mac and other devices can all access the files at the same time.

Enjoy the convenience of AirDrop

When it’s running properly, AirDrop is great. It makes transferring files from one Apple device to another quick and easy. You can transfer photos from iPhone to MacBook without having to connect any cables, for example.

 

But if you’re unable to get AirDrop working, then it can quickly become deeply frustrating. We’ve looked at various different fixes here, but there are a few key things to remember. Make sure AirDrop is enabled on all your devices so they’re all discoverable. Check your System Preferences or System Settings to make sure your Wi-Fi settings are okay. Also, check if all your devices are up-to-date. Ultimately, if AirDrop keeps failing, you can use cloud or external storage instead.

 

Want to spend less time dealing with Mac issues? Use MacKeeper’s Find & Fix to help you quickly track down issues and errors that can affect your Mac’s performance—including its AirDrop functionality.

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