How to Use AirDrop to Share Files Between Apple Devices

Are you tired of emailing things to yourself or fumbling with cables to transfer files between your Apple devices?

There’s a solution for that. It’s called AirDrop, and it’s available for iPhone, iPad and Mac. It’s a convenient and secure way to share files between Apple devices, and it works much better than you would think.

Whether you want to share photos, videos, documents, or URLs, AirDrop is a quick and easy solution. Here’s how it works.

Understanding AirDrop

AirDrop is a built-in feature on Apple devices that uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to create a peer-to-peer wireless connection between devices. This means that you don’t need an internet connection or a third-party app.

AirDrop uses encryption to ensure that your files are sent securely, and it supports a variety of file types, including photos, videos, contacts, documents, and more. It’s available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Turning on AirDrop

If you’ve never tried AirDrop before, you need to turn it before you use it. Here’s how to make that happen.

iPhone and iPad:

  1. Swipe down from the top right of your screen to open Control Center.
  2. Press and hold the network settings card in the upper-left corner of the Control Center, (iPad users can tap the AirDrop icon).
  3. Choose either “Contacts Only” or “Everyone for 10 minutes” to control who can see your device and send you files.
Image created by Jonathan Wylie

Mac instructions:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click on AirDrop in the left-hand sidebar.
  3. Next to “Allow me to be discovered by” choose either “Contacts Only” or “Everyone” to control who can see your device and send you files.

Contacts Only or Everyone?

To prevent people from misusing AirDrop, Apple included controls to help restrict who can send you things via AirDrop. These are the “Contacts Only” or “Everyone” settings that you picked above.

“Contacts Only” means that only people with your Apple ID email address in their Contacts app can send you files via AirDrop.

“Everyone” is exactly what it sounds like. Anyone with an Apple device can AirDrop things to you if you are within range of their device. On iOS, this setting is “Everyone for 10 minutes.”

Interestingly, the “Everyone” setting on iOS didn’t use to have a time limit attached to it. It used to be a permanent setting that you could enable all the time. However, AirDrop spam is real, and your iPhone is likely more secure with a ten-minute time limit.

Using AirDrop to share files

Once you’ve turned on AirDrop, you’re ready to start sharing. Here’s how to use AirDrop to share files between devices:

iPhone and iPad:

  1. Open the file that you want to share.
  2. Tap the Share button.
  3. Tap the AirDrop icon.
  4. Tap the name of the device that you want to share the file with.
  5. If the recipient accepts the file, you’ll see a notification that the transfer was successful. If they decline it, you will see that notification instead.

Mac instructions:

  1. Right-click on the file that you want to AirDrop.
  2. Next, click “Share” and select “AirDrop.”
  3. Choose the device that you want to share the file with.
  4. If the recipient accepts the file, you’ll see a notification that the transfer was successful. If they decline it, you will see that notification instead.
Photo by Afif Ramdhasuma on Unsplash

AirDrop Tips to Help You Get Started

Want to get the most out of AirDrop? Take a look at these handy tips to make sure that you can AirDrop like a pro.

  • You can send more than one file at a time. If you are in an app, like Photos, that lets you select multiple files, you can send them all with one AirDrop instead of individually.
  • The name of your device is what shows up in the AirDrop menu when someone is trying to send you something. You can make it easier (or harder) for someone to identify you by going to Settings > General > About to change the name of your device.
  • An AirDrop arrives with a preview image. Use the preview to help you decide whether to accept or reject the drop. Sometimes people AirDrop the wrong person by mistake. The preview image makes that much more obvious, so use it to your advantage!
  • You can turn AirDrop off when you don’t need it. You do that through Control Center. Instead of choosing “Contacts Only” or “Everyone for 10 minutes”, choose “Receiving Off” (iOS) or “No one” (Mac).

Troubleshooting AirDrop

In my usage, AirDrop is actually very reliable. However, if you find that it is not working the way it should, keep the following in mind.

  • Both devices need to have AirDrop turned on and be in close proximity to each other. You can’t AirDrop something to someone in another city. It doesn’t work that way. They have to be within 50 feet, or so.
  • Next, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi need to be enabled on the device you are sending to. Most devices have these on by default, but if you can’t find the person you want to send files to, check they have these turned on.
  • Larger files, like video, will take longer to transfer. Be patient and avoid interrupting the transfer or your AirDrop will fail.
  • Lastly, Apple recommends that you turn off your personal hotspot while sending or receiving AirDrop files.


AirDrop is a simple and convenient way to share files between Apple devices. By turning on AirDrop and following a few easy steps, you can quickly share files without the need for cables or third-party apps.

It’s faster than email and more convenient than cloud storage links. So, isn’t it time you switched to AirDrop?

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