AirDrop is like FedEx for your iPhone files and photos. Here’s how to use it

If you’re still emailing photos from your iPhone to nearby friends or still using a USB stick to transfer a few files from your Mac, stop. Try AirDrop instead. Whether you a iPhone 14a iPad mini or a new M2 MacBook Pro, AirDrop is a convenient way to transfer files and content from one Apple device to another. AirDrop lets you quickly share photos, documents, videos, audio recordings, business cards, web links, and notes (among other things) between Apple devices.


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AirDrop is limited to iOS and MacOS. (Sorry, Android and PC users.) When AirDrop came out in 2012, it was one of the features that separated the iPhone from Android phones. If you have an Android phone, Google has its own version of AirDrop called Near Sharewho does something similar.

You don’t even need the latest iPhone 14 Pro or a 16-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 Max chip Using AirDrop. It works with any iOS device running iOS 7 or later and any Mac running OS X Yosemite or later. The only “requirement” is that both devices are within 30 feet of each other and that both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned on. As far as I know, there is no limit to the size of the file you AirDrop. Just know that the larger the file, the longer it will take to transfer.

If you want to follow step by step as I set up and use AirDrop, watch the video below.

Enable AirDrop

From an iPhone, make sure Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both turned on. Then open the Control Center panel, then hold the wireless connection icon until it expands to a rectangle. Finally, tap airdrop and choose Reception off, Contacts only or Everybody to control who can send files to your phone.

On a Mac, make sure Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned on. Open a Finder window. Then click in the sidebar airdrop. A window opens with a radar-like image. Anyone nearby with AirDrop enabled will appear in this window. At the bottom of the window, you can select who can send you things: Nobody, Contacts or Everybody.

How to use AirDrop on an iPhone

To use AirDrop on an iPhone, the person you’re sending files to must have an Apple device with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled. If either of you have personal hotspot turned on, turn it off; otherwise AirDrop will not work. The same goes if you use a VPN. I’m not exactly sure why this is, but I suspect it has something to do with the way a VPN encrypts your internet connection.

Every time you have one Part button on your phone (the rectangular icon with an arrow pointing up), you can select airdrop. When you do that, you’ll be presented with a list of all nearby Apple devices that also have AirDrop enabled. Tap the name of the device you want to send to. Let’s say you’re in the Photos app and you see a photo you want to AirDrop. Press Part to open the Share menu. At the bottom of the menu, tap the airdrop icon. Then a window appears with everyone nearby who has enabled AirDrop. Find the person you want to send the photo to and tap the contact icon.

Then a window notification pops up with a preview of the content you’re sharing on the recipient’s phone. They have the option To accept or Reject. As soon as they tap To accept, the selected photo is transferred. Photos and videos are stored in the Photos app on the recipient’s phone. Documents will ask the recipient to choose an app to save them to. Web links automatically open in your default web browser, which will be Safari for most people.

If the person you’re messaging has their AirDrop set to Contacts Only, they’ll need a contact card in the Contacts app that has your email address or phone number for this to work. If you’re not in their Contacts, have them change their AirDrop preference to Everybody to receive your file.


In iOS, when you tap the Share menu, a dialog appears showing nearby people with AirDrop activated. Tap the person you want to share with.

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How to use AirDrop on a Mac

To begin with, make sure Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both turned on on your Mac, then open a Finder window. Then click from the sidebar airdrop. To share a file, simply drag and drop it onto the contact icon for the desired person in the AirDrop window. Also, just like on iOS, you always have access to AirDrop when you use the Part knob.

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On a Mac, the Finder window shows anyone with AirDrop enabled nearby,


If you’re having trouble sending a file via AirDrop from a Mac, click the Don’t see who you’re looking for button at the bottom of the AirDrop Finder window. Then click on the Search for an older Mac button that appears.

AirDrop from iPhone to Mac (or vice versa)

To AirDrop content from an iPhone to a Mac, start with the content. For example, if you want a web link to AirDrop, let the page open on your iPhone. Then open the Part menu and tap it airdrop icon. Then select the Mac icon and name of the device you want to send the web link to. The recipient’s Mac will show a prompt asking them to do this To accept or Deny. As soon as they tap To acceptthe web link is transferred and opened in their default web browser.

If you want to AirDrop from your iPhone to your Mac and both are signed in to the same Apple ID, you won’t see an Accept or Decline option. The transfer will just happen.

How to change your AirDrop name

Your AirDrop name is the same as your global device name. To check or change it on an iPhone, open Settings. Crane General, then tap As regards. The first item in the list shows the current name of your iPhone. Just tap to change it.

Now that you’ve mastered the art of AirDrop, get one check out other helpful iPhone tips and tricks below.