AirDrop is, potentially, a quick way to transfer a photo or video from your iPhone to your Mac or a friend's iPhone. You could also send a link to a webpage to a colleague, or share a location on a map. AirDrop also allows you to share music from iTunes, Contact information, Passbook passes, and with iOS 10 and later, you can also share apps with AirDrop (Apple says you can press and hold the app icon on the Home screen, but it didn’t work for us, read more here).

You can also share Notes or Pages documents via AirDrop (but remember that you can also add other people to collaborate from the apps themselves).

If you are sharing between two iPhones or iPads you only need to be close enough for Bluetooth to work. If you are sharing to or from a Mac you will need WiFi enabled on the Mac and Bluetooth turned on.

Not all Apple devices are able to use AirDrop, we have a list of Apple devices that are capable of AirDrop at the bottom of this page.

How to send from iPhone to iPhone (or iPad/iPhone to iPad/iPhone) using AirDrop

On the sending iPhone

  1. Open Control Centre on your iPhone by swiping upwards
  2. Tap on AirDrop
  3. You can choose Contacts Only (which you might want to do if you are in a public location)
  4. Or choose Everyone
  5. WiFi and Bluetooth will automatically turn on
  6. Find the thing you want to share with your friend, e.g. a photo.
  7. Select the photo and tap on the Share icon (square with an arrow pointing upwards)
  8. In the AirDrop row you should see the people you can share with
  9. Tap on the person you are sharing with and your photo will be shared with them as long as they accept the transfer - note that if that person has more than one Apple device they might all show up here, text should appear under their name indicating which device is which
  10. You can send as many files or photos as you like and send them to multiple contacts at the same time
  11. After sending the photo or file you will see the word Sent under the person’s device in your AirDrop row
  12. To turn off AirDrop swipe up again from the bottom of your phone and tap on AirDrop again (We tend to turn it off to save battery, although Bluetooth remains on so you might want to turn that off too)

On the recipient iPhone

  1. Open Control Centre on your iPhone by swiping upwards
  2. Tap on AirDrop
  3. You can choose Contacts Only or Everyone (you are more likely to be discovered by your friend if you opt for Everyone)
  4. WiFi and Bluetooth will automatically turn on
  5. When your friend attempts to shares the content you will see an alert appear on your phone asking if you wish to Accept or Decline.
  6. Choose Accept and the content will download
  7. If you are Airdropping between your own devices you won’t see an option to accept or decline,  as long as both devices are signed into the same Apple ID
  8. The content will appear in the relevant app - photos in the Photos app, location information in Maps, etc

How to send from iPhone (or iPad) to Mac using AirDrop

On the iPhone/iPad

  1. Open Control Centre by swiping upwards
  2. Tap on AirDrop and choose Contacts Only or Everyone (as before we recommend Everyone to increase your chances of it working).
  3. WiFi and Bluetooth will automatically turn on
  4. Find the thing you want to share with your friend, e.g. a photo
  5. Select the photo and tap on the Share icon (square with an arrow pointing upwards)
  6. In the AirDrop row you should see the Apple devices that you can share with
  7. Find the Mac you want to share with and tap on the person’s name (if that person has more than one Apple device they might all show up here, text should appear under their name indicating which device is which)
  8. Wait for the recipient to approve the transfer. You will see Waiting, then Sending, and eventually the blue line will draw around the icon that represents the device you are sending to.
  9. After sending the photo or file you will see the word Sent under the person’s device in your AirDrop row

On the Mac

  1. Open a Finder window and select AirDrop from the left hand column
  2. You need to have WiFi turned on on your Mac. If you are sharing your WiFi connection from the Mac to your iPhone or iPad you will have to stop doing this and log both devices onto the same WiFi network
  3. In the Finder window you will see the option ‘Allow me to be discovered by’ and the choice of Everyone, Contacts Only, or No One.
  4. To increase the chances of your Mac seeing your devices and vice versa we suggest making sure you can be seen by Everyone.
  5. When the file is ready to be sent you should receive an alert on the Mac asking you to approve that a file is being shared
  6. Approve the transfer and the file should appear in your Downloads folder
  7. If it’s your Mac, using the same Apple ID as the iPhone, you won’t see an alert but the file will automatically transfer to your Downloads folder

How to send from Mac to iPhone (or iPad) using AirDrop

On the Mac

  1. Open a Finder window and select AirDrop
  2. You need to have WiFi turned on on your Mac. If you are sharing your WiFi connection from the Mac to your iPhone or iPad you will have to stop doing this and log both devices onto the same WiFi network
  3. In the Finder window you will see the option ‘Allow me to be discovered by’ and the choice of Everyone, Contacts Only, or No One.
  4. To increase the chances of your Mac seeing your devices and vice versa we suggest making sure you can be seen by Everyone
  5. As long as the iPhone or iPad has AirDrop turned on, and isn’t asleep, you should see it appear in the AirDrop window in the Finder on your Mac
  6. Drag and drop the image or file onto the icon representing the iPhone
  7. After sending the photo or file you will see the word Sent appear under the device icon

On the iPhone or iPad

  1. Swipe up on Control Centre and turn on AirDrop on the iPhone or iPad
  2. When the Mac user shares the file or photo you should see an alert asking for your approval of the transfer before it copies over
  3. Accept the alert and the file will transfer
  4. If you are transferring files from your own Mac to your own iPhone you will just see an alert that a file is incoming
  5. If you were sent an image you will find it in your Photos app on the iPhone. Other file types will similarly end up in the relevant app

How to send files from Mac to Mac using AirDrop

On the sending Mac

  1. Open a Finder window and select AirDrop (or use Spotlight to search for AirDrop)
  2. You need to have WiFi turned on
  3. In the Finder window you will see the option ‘Allow me to be discovered by’ and the choice of Everyone, Contacts Only, or No One.
  4. To increase the chances of your Mac seeing your devices and vice versa we suggest making sure you can be seen by Everyone
  5. As long as the other Mac has AirDrop turned on you should see it appear in the AirDrop window in the Finder on your Mac
  6. To send files (or folders) from one Mac to another drag and drop onto the icon representing the other Mac in the Finder window
  7. A pop-up message will appears saying Do You Want To Send to the computer
  8. Click Send to share the file or folder

On the recipient Mac

  1. Open a Finder window and select AirDrop
  2. You need to have WiFi turned on
  3. In the Finder window you will see the option ‘Allow me to be discovered by’ and the choice of Everyone, Contacts Only, or No One.
  4. To increase the chances of your Mac seeing your devices and vice versa we suggest making sure you can be seen by Everyone
  5. As long as the other Mac has AirDrop turned on you should see it appear in the AirDrop window in the Finder on your Mac
  6. When the file is sent from the other Mac you should see a pop-up inform you that a file is being shared
  7. Click Save to accept the transfer (or click Decline)

If transferring to an older Mac

  1. On the sending Mac
  2. Click Don't see who you're looking for in the AirDrop window
  3. Select the option to Search for an Older Mac
  4. You should see the Mac you are trying to share with in the AirDrop window, drag the file you wish to share onto it

Troubleshooting AirDrop on a Mac

  1. Check your Mac supports AirDrop, see the list below
  2. Make sure you are using WiFi - you can’t use AirDrop if you are sharing your WiFi connection from your Mac
  3. Try turning Bluetooth and WiFi of and on again
  4. If you are set to share with Contacts Only, try changing to Everyone
  5. According to Apple AirDrop is designed to work within a range of approximately 9 meters so try moving the devices closer
  6. Ensure you're up-to-date on your Mac's software
  7. Go to System Preferences > Bluetooth and Pair with the other Mac there
  8. Make sure you have the right kind of Bluetooth on your Mac. To check you have the right version of Bluetooth,  click the Apple menu > Select About This Mac > System Report > Bluetooth > find "LMP Version" and check that LMP Version says 0x6. Anything lower than that is an older version of Bluetooth
  9. Disable the Firewall. To do this go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall > Turn Off Firewall. Also check that ‘Block all incoming connections’ isn’t turned on in Firewall
  10. Sign in and out of iCloud on both devices
  11. Try using a 802.11ac network if one is available

Troubleshooting AirDrop on an iPhone or iPad

  1. Check the iPhone or iPad supports AirDrop, see the list below
  2. Try turning Bluetooth and WiFi of and on again (or just turn Airplane Mode on and off as that will do the same thing)
  3. If you are set to share with Contacts Only, try changing to Everyone
  4. Make sure the iPhone/iPad hasn’t gone to sleep. Our iPhone showed up in AirDrop on our Mac but it seemed to be intermittent, disappearing and reappearing from time to time. It turned out that the link was disappearing when our iPhone went to sleep and waking it up would make it visible again.
  5. According to Apple AirDrop is designed to work within a range of approximately 9 meters so try moving the devices closer
  6. Ensure your iOS software is up to date
  7. Kick start Bluetooth by going to Settings > Bluetooth on the iPhone/iPad and looking for the device you are trying to share with
  8. Sign in and out of iCloud on both devices

The following Macs are compatible with AirDrop

AirDrop won’t work on all Macs and all iOS devices, so it may not be a feature you can take advantage of. AirDrop is (apparently) supported by the following Mac models:
        

  • MacBook Pro (Late 2008) or later, excluding the MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2008)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010) or later
  • MacBook (Late 2008) or later, excluding the white MacBook (Late 2008)
  • iMac (Early 2009) or later
  • Mac Mini (Mid 2010) or later
  • Mac Pro (Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card, or Mid 2010)

We say ‘apparently’ because it took us a very long time to get AirDrop to work between our 2012 MacBook Air and an iPhone 5s - and then when we did it was unsustainable.

The following iPhones and iPads are compatible with AirDrop

  • iPhone 5 or later
  • iPad (4th generation or later)
  • iPad mini
  • iPod touch (5th generation)
  • iPad Pro