How to turn on AirDrop on iPhone, iPad and Mac

Learn how to turn on AirDrop on iPhone, iPad, and Mac and what to do if AirDrop isn’t working.

Photo from MacBook, iPhone and iPad
Image: Yeamake/Adobe Stock

AirDrop is a file sharing service available on Mac and iOS devices that makes transferring photos, large files, playlists, contact information, locations on Apple Maps, website links and more much faster and more convenient.

What you need to enable AirDrop

To enable AirDrop, you must first enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as they are required for devices to connect.

Make sure the optimal distance between the device sharing data and the device receiving data is 30 feet for the transmission to be safe. If you have Personal Hotspot turned on, turn it off as it may break the connection.

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Here is a step-by-step process you can follow to enable AirDrop on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Here’s how to enable AirDrop on your iPhone

  • If you’re using an iPhone X or later, swipe down from the top-right corner of your screen and open Control Center. If you have an older version, access the control center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
  • Press and hold the WiFi button and Bluetooth options to turn it on.
  • Next, tap on the AirDrop icon – it resembles a triangle in four concentric circles.
  • You should see a menu of options to choose who can send files to your device. You can choose to only receive files from people on your contact list, or you can choose to receive files from any Apple device within range by clicking Everyone.
  • To turn AirDrop off, follow the same steps but select Receive. You cannot receive files via AirDrop.

Here’s how to enable AirDrop on your iPad

  • Swipe down from the top-right corner of the home screen to access Control Center.
  • Tap the AirDrop icon.
  • Alternatively, launch the settings app.
  • Select General from the left menu.
  • Tap the AirDrop icon.
  • The three AirDrop settings appear: Receive Off, Contacts Only, and All.
  • Select “Contacts Only” or “All” to enable AirDrop.
  • AirDrop remains active as long as Receiving Off is not active.

Here’s how to enable AirDrop on your Mac

You must be running macOS X Lion or later operating systems to use AirDrop on your Mac computer. Follow these steps to enable AirDrop:

  • Select the Go tab at the top of your Mac computer.
  • From the drop-down menu, click AirDrop.
  • You will see the option to turn on Bluetooth on the screen. click it
  • Once Bluetooth is on, click Allow me to be discovered by and choose who you want to receive AirDrops from.
  • You’ll be discovered by AirDrop-enabled devices within range.
  • You can choose to receive files from everyone, or you can limit it to just your contacts.

What to do if AirDrop isn’t working?

If you’ve enabled AirDrop but are having trouble finding your name or being discovered, here are a few general things to check:

First, check if your Apple device is compatible with AirDrop. iPhones and iPads running iOS 7 or later have AirDrop, as do Macs and MacBooks released in 2012 or later that are running at least OS X Yosemite.

If your device is compatible with AirDrop but you still don’t see it, make sure you’re using the latest version of iOS. Sometimes new versions of operating systems cause compatibility problems. To check for updates, launch Settings from your home screen. Tap General and then Software Update. If there is a newer version of the operating system, install it.

Make sure both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled. If they’re on and AirDrop still doesn’t work, turn them off and on again to clear up temporary glitches. Additionally, if your device and the recipient’s are more than 30 feet apart, it may be difficult to see their AirDrop name in your nearby devices list. Bring the two devices closer together.

Check if your device connects to the internet using a personal hotspot, as this can break the AirDrop connection. If this is the case, open Settings and turn off Personal Hotspot. Also check that your AirDrop is set to only receive files from your contacts. If this is the case, you need to verify who you are receiving files from. Change the settings to get files from everyone and try again.

If all else fails, do a hard reboot on both devices to get rid of temporary glitches in settings or the network.

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