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How to use AirDrop on Mac, iPhone and iPad

Do you know all the possibilities of AirDrop? We show you how to use it to send files and photos between Macs, from iPhone to iPhone, from iPhone to Mac, and from Mac to iPhone (and iPad). We tell you what equipment and devices are compatible and how they work.

AirDropAirDrop offers a quick and easy way to send photos and videos, as well as copy files, PDF files and any other type from your iPhone to your Mac or vice versa, from your iPhone to a friend, or any scenario in which it is involved. your iPhone.

It is a faster and more immediate process than sending files by e-mail, and it does not use data connections, as is the case with sending text messages. It is even possible to use AirDrop to share a link from a web page, a map location or a contact.

AirDrop also allows you to share iTunes music, tickets stored in Passbook and applications of any kind. Press and hold the application icon on the home screen until you see the option to share.

You can even share Notes or Pages documents through AirDrop, but remember that you can also add other people to collaborate from the applications of the iOS operating system.

Read More: How to hide recent applications in the Dock in macOS Mojave

If you’re sharing something between two iPhones or iPads, you just need to be close enough for Bluetooth to work. If you are sharing from or to a Mac computer, you will need to have Wi-Fi enabled on the Mac.

AirDrop will not work if you are using the Wi-Fi connection to share your connection with other devices, in addition to having to also enable the Bluetooth connection. Keep in mind that not all Apple devices can use AirDrop. At the end of this article, you will find all the compatibility details.

Before we begin I will leave here an official link of Apple Support regarding AirDrop.

macos airdrop

How to use AirDrop from iPhone to iPhone / iPad

Previously, it was essential to have AirDrop activated by default on the iPhone or iPad to allow it to function and exchange information. Since the arrival of iOS 11, AirDrop is enabled as long as you have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth enabled.

In this way, whenever the other person’s iPhone or iPad is within range, you should be able to send the file to the other device using AirDrop connectivity.

Shipping iPhone or iPad

  1. Verify that Bluetooth or wifi are activated. To do this, open the ‘Control Center’ by sliding up or down (depending on the iPhone model) and make sure that the connectivity icons are blue, which means they are activated.
  1. Locate what you want to share on the shipping device. To share a photo, open the ‘Photos’ application and look for the image. If the person of destination is a contact of yours, click on ‘Contacts’ and look for the corresponding entry.
  1. Once you have selected the photo or file, touch the ‘Share’ icon (it is a square with an arrow pointing upwards, although at other times you may see it as the word ‘Share’).
  1. A page will open with several options to share (message, mail, etc). Above that row, you will initially see the AirDrop icon, but after a few seconds, it will be replaced by icons representing people or devices with which you can share.
  1. The system will show if it is an iPhone, iPad or Mac. Click on the icon of the person with whom you want to share and your photo or file will be shared with them, it is always clear that the recipient accepts the transfer.
  1. You can send as many files or photos as you wish, as well as send them to multiple contacts at the same time without consuming data connection.
  2. After sending the photo or file, you will see the word ‘Sent’ below the device of the person who received it by AirDrop.

On the iPhone or iPad as a receiver

  1. As indicated above, verify that Bluetooth or wifi are activated. To do this, open the ‘Control Center’ of iOS and make sure that the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icons are shown in blue.
  1. When a friend tries to share the content with you, an alert will appear on your device asking if you want to ‘Accept or Reject’.
  1. Choose ‘Accept’ and the content will start downloading to your device.
  1. If you are using AirDropping between your own devices, you will not see an option to accept or reject, as long as your devices are registered with the same Apple ID.

Where are the AirDrop files saved on the iPhone?

Now that the files have been transferred from one device to another, you may wonder where they reside. The content must appear in the corresponding application. If it is a photo, in Photos. If it is a location on a map, in the Maps application.

Read More: The new iPad are also compatible with the Logitech Crayon

What happens if your iPhone / iPad can not see or be seen for AirDrop?

If the iPad or iPhone you are sharing does not appear in the list of possible AirDrop destinations, there are a couple of options you can try. Bluetooth and wifi can be turned off, so AirDrop will be disabled.

It can also happen that your friend has AirDrop configured to receive it from one of his contacts and not from any users (as a security measure).

  1. To know if you can solve it, start by sliding your finger on the screen to access the ‘Control Center’ and find out if both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are activated. Do the same with the shipping device.
  1. Check now that AirDrop is not turned off. Now slide your finger on the ‘Control Center’ and hold the area where you can see the icons for AirPlane, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth mode.
  1. Next, you’ll reach the second screen where you get the AirDrop and Personal Hotspot options. AirDrop should be enabled by default, but if it is not, touch the icon to fix it.
  1. AirDrop may be activated but the device is configured to receive only from ‘Contacts’. In this case, touch the AirDrop icon and change from ‘Contacts’ to ‘All’.
  1. If the iPhone or iPad is not yet displayed and you have reviewed all previous probabilities, you may simply have your device not within the compatible list.

How to use AirDrop from iPhone to Mac

Configuring your iPhone for AirDropping files on a Mac is a process similar to the one described above between iOS devices. If both are yours and use the same Apple ID, everything will be much simpler.

Shipping iPhone or iPad

  1. Check that Bluetooth or wifi are enabled. Open the ‘Control Center’ by sliding your finger on the screen and make sure that the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icons are blue.
  1. Locate what you want to share and your destination. For example, if it is a photo you should go to the application of ‘Photos’. If it is a contact you are sharing, open the ‘Contacts’ application and search for the corresponding entry.
  1. Once the photo or file is selected, touch the ‘Share’ icon (it is a square with an arrow pointing up, you will see it in most applications, although sometimes you will see the ‘Share’ screen).
  1. A page will open with several options to share (message, mail, etc). Above that row, you will see the AirDrop icon. After a few seconds, it should be replaced by icons representing people and devices with which to share.
  1. Touch the icon that represents the Mac with which you want to share your photo or file as long as the recipient accepts the transfer. If the iPhone and the Mac are yours, you will not have to accept the transfer, since it will happen automatically.
  1. The downloaded file will be downloaded and you will be able to locate it in the ‘Downloads’ folder that you can find in the system’s own ‘Dock’.
  1. After sending the photo or file, you will see the word ‘Sent’ below the device of the person in your AirDrop row.

The Mac team as a receiver

In previous versions of macOS, it was necessary to activate AirDrop by opening a window of the ‘Finder’, but this is no longer necessary. You should only make sure that the Wi-Fi option is activated.

  1. Make sure Wi-Fi is enabled on your Mac. This should be obvious if the Wi-Fi icon on the top right of the screen is black. Otherwise, click on the icon and choose ‘Activate wifi’.
  1. 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. If you are sharing a file to your Mac from the iPhone, then you will not see the alert and the shipment will be automatic.
  1. Approve the transfer and the file should appear in your ‘Downloads’ folder that you will find in the ‘Dock’.
  1. If it is your Mac, which uses the same Apple ID as the iPhone, you will not see an alert, but the file will be automatically transferred to your ‘Downloads’ folder.

Where do AirDrop files go on the Mac?

All files sent to a Mac using AirDrop can be found in the ‘Downloads’ folder, unlike the iPhone or iPad, where they will automatically appear in the corresponding application.

What happens if the Mac cannot see or be seen for AirDrop?

There are some possibilities if the Mac you are trying to send something to is not shown to AirDrop.

  1. Check that Internet sharing is not activated.
  2. Make sure that both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  3. Turn on Bluetooth.
  4. Sometimes, simply open a ‘Finder’ window and choose the AirDrop tab to wake up the AirDrop function.
  5. Open a ‘Finder’ window and click on the AirDrop tab under ‘Favorites’. You will see the option ‘Allow me to be discovered by’, the option of ‘All’, ‘Only contacts’ or ‘Nobody’.

How to turn off Internet sharing

The Mac could be sharing your Internet connection via wifi, in which case you would see an arrow pointing up where you would normally see the wifi symbol. If you are sharing your connection from the Mac to your iPhone or iPad, you will have to stop doing so.

You will have to register both devices in the same Wi-Fi network, for which you will see ‘System preferences> Share and deactivate’ Share on the Internet ‘by selecting the box next to this option.

How to use AirDrop from a Mac to iPhone or iPad

AirDropping from a Mac previously was only possible only through the ‘Finder’, but now you can select AirDrop as a ‘Share’ option. We show you how to do it.

use AirDrop on Mac

The Mac as a file transmitter

  1. Make sure your Mac has wifi enabled. If you are sharing your Internet connection from the Mac to an iPhone or iPad, you should stop doing so, as explained above.
  1. Open a ‘Finder’ window and select AirDrop from options a to the left.
  1. Verify that ‘All’ or ‘Only contacts’ appears next to ‘Allow me to discover’. If the ‘Nobody’ option appears here, click on it and choose an option that makes your Mac visible.
  1. As long as the iPhone or iPad has AirDrop activated and its screen is not blocked, you should see it appear in the AirDrop window of the Mac Finder.
  1. Drag and drop the image or file into the icon representing the iPhone.
  1. A blue ring will appear and surround the iPhone icon as the file is transferred.
  1. After sending the photo or file, you will see that the word ‘Sent’ appears below the device icon.

Alternatively, you can share the file or photo from an application, by clicking the right button and pressing the ‘Control’ key on it. You can also do it through ‘Quick View’ to preview the file.

The iPhone or iPad as receivers

  1. As indicated above, you should make sure that Bluetooth or Wi-Fi are enabled.
  1. When the Mac user shares the file or photo, you should see an alert requesting your approval of the transfer before it is copied again. This happens unless both devices are using the same Apple ID.
  1. Accept the alert message and the file will be transferred.
  1. You will see an alert that a file is entering.
  1. If they sent you an image, you will find it in your iPhone ‘Photos’ application. Other types of files will end up residing in the corresponding application unless it is not obvious to which application they should go.

How to use AirDrop from Mac to Mac

The AirDropping function between two Mac computers is very similar to AirDropping from a Mac to an iPad or iPhone. As we mentioned earlier, you can share your files by dragging them to an AirDrop ‘Finder’ window. You can also select it as a sharing option.

However, there are some differences in the way that AirDrop works on older Macs, which we will see below.

Sending from a Mac

You can try to follow our previous indications for AirDropping from a Mac through the ‘Finder’ or using the ‘Share’ option.

The Mac as a receiver

  1. Make sure that the Wi-Fi connection is activated and that you are connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the other Mac.
  1. Check that Bluetooth is activated.
  1. When the file is sent from the other Mac, a pop-up window should appear to inform you that a file is being shared with you.
  1. Click on ‘Save’ to accept the transfer.
  1. In case the other Mac machine cannot see you, open a ‘Finder’ window and select AirDrop.
  1. In the ‘Finder’ window you will find the option ‘Allow me to be discovered’. Make sure you are visible by selecting an appropriate option. To increase the chances of your Mac viewing your files and vice versa, ensuring that everyone can see you.

How to send files through AirDrop to an old Mac

There are some differences in the process when sending files from an older Mac.

On the Mac shipping

  1. Click on ‘I do not see who I’m looking for’ in the AirDrop window.
  1. Select the option to search for an older Mac.
  1. You should see the Mac you are trying to share within the AirDrop window. Drag the file you want to share with her.

Compatible Mac, iPhone and iPad

AirDrop will not work on all Macs or iOS devices, so it may not be a feature that you can always take advantage of. AirDrop is apparently compatible with the following Mac models.

  • MacBook Pro (late 2008) or later, excluding the MacBook Pro (17 inches, 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 the AirPort Extreme card, or mid-2010)
  • iPhone 5 or later
  • iPad (4th generation or later)
  • Ipad mini
  • iPod touch (5th generation)
  • iPad Pro

If you want to know more possibilities to take advantage of AirDrop, stay tuned to our Channel.

About the author

Hassan Abbas

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