How to Share Files with AirDrop: quick guide and FAQ

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11 / 12 / 2017

How to Share Files with AirDrop: quick guide and FAQ

There are dozens of ways to transfer media files, and usually, the method we choose depends on the file type. We send photos and videos via Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, while important documents are generally attached to the mail. Someone prefers sharing files via cloud storage such as iCloud or Dropbox. However, when sharing between nearby devices or transferring something from a Mac to your iPhone, AirDrop would be the best choice.

AirDrop is a built-in macOS data sharing tool. It lets you quickly and easily transfer any file between Macs, iPhones, and iPads. By saying this we mean literally any file: AirDrop can send contacts, websites, playlists, voice memos, map locations, photos and documents, and much more. In case you don’t know much about this Apple tool, here’s our quick AirDrop guide.

How to get started with AirDrop

AirDrop sharing uses Bluetooth technology, so the first thing to do is to enable Bluetooth and pair the devices you need. Here’s how to enable AirDrop on your iPhone or iPad.

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and launch Control Center.

  2. Turn on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection by tapping their icons at the top. There’s no need connect to a Wi-Fi network, just turn on Wi-Fi to enable the transfer.

  3. Enable AirDrop at the bottom of the menu.

  4. Choose the Contacts Only or Everyone option.


Selecting the first one means your device is visible only to your contacts list. In case you select Everyone, be careful: all nearby iOS devices will be able to see yours, and you may accidentally transfer files to random people you don’t know. Choosing Contacts is safer, but make sure both sender and receiver are logged into iCloud and have each other in the contacts list.

If you’d like to share files between a Mac and an iOS device, try this.

  1. Remember to turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your Mac.

  2. Launch Finder.

  3. Select AirDrop from the sidebar.

  4. Open AirDrop and select Contacts Only or Everyone.

How to transfer files

Once you have performed the steps above, you are ready to AirDrop any file. Open a photo, video, document, or any other file you’d like to transfer. Tap the Share button at the bottom (looks like a box with an arrow pointing up). Next, tap the file recipient's icon and share your file. That’s it!

Did something go wrong? Don’t worry, check out some most common AirDrop issues and their resolution.

How to fix most common AirDrop issues

  • First, check if each device has AirDrop turned on.

  • Turn off Personal Hotspot in case it is enabled (open Settings > Personal Hotspot on your iPhone/iPad.)

  • Make sure both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are turned on.

  • Try selecting Everyone from the AirDrop menu, it should help.

  • If that doesn’t resolve your issue, try to turn your iPhone or Mac off then back on. Restarting the Apple device is called soft reset, and usually, it helps with AirDrop. If not, try the next step.

  • Open Settings > System Preferences > Security&Privacy > Firewall Options on your Mac. Make sure Block all incoming connections is unchecked.

  • If you are trying to AirDrop between the newer Mac and the older Mac, try clicking Don’t see who you’re looking for and selecting Search for an Older Mac. That should help.

  • Sometimes you need to deactivate and then reactivate your iCloud account.

  • Check your Bluetooth Preference file. Turn off Bluetooth and navigate to the main Library folder. Next, open the Preference folder and delete the file called com.apple.Bluetooth.plist. Empty your Trash and then turn Bluetooth back on.

Now you know what to do in case any AirDrop issue arises. Just follow our common problems guide step by step and enjoy sharing. Got some other AirDrop lifehacks? Share them in comments!