The "AirDrop" feature can be found not only in iOS and iPadOS, but also under macOS on Mac models. This feature allows users to wirelessly exchange data when the Apple devices are close together. In practice, it can be used to share documents, photos, videos, website addresses, notes, map markers and much more.
On the Mac you can send any type of file or entire folder, and on the iPhone and iPad you can send all data that allows access to the sharesheet when viewed.
Chapter in this post:
- 1 Google Nearby Share is the Google version of AirDrop
- 2 These devices support AirDrop
- 3 How does AirDrop work?
- 4 iPhone in airplane mode - no AirDrop possible
- 5 Fast data transfer via WLAN connection
- 6 AirDrop settings under macOS
- 7 How to use AirDrop on iOS and iPadOS
- 8 Reach AirDrop settings via the iOS control center
- 9 Screen time blocked AirDrop
- 10 Similar posts
After Apple had installed AirDrop for many years, Google is finally following suit with a similar feature they call “Nearby Share”. It runs on all Android versions from Android 6 and above and thus replaces the previous exchange option via Bluetooth, for which you had to search for the other device manually.
These devices support AirDrop
Basically, AirDrop runs with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Mac, whereby every iPhone, iPad and every iPod Touch must have iOS 7 or a newer version of iOS or iPadOS installed as a transmitter and receiver.
For Mac, AirDrop works on all 2012 and later models except the 2012 Mac Pro. The Macs must have at least OS X Yosemite or a newer macOS installed.
How does AirDrop work?
Even if AirDrop relies on Bluetooth for the first connection of the two devices, a direct WiFi connection is used between the transmitter and receiver for the actual transmission of the data. The transmission is encrypted to make "eavesdropping" difficult.
AirDrop works on Apple devices such as iPad, iPhone, and Mac, but there is no way to use AirDrop to send data to an Android device.
iPhone in airplane mode - no AirDrop possible
To use AirDrop, both devices must have Wifi and Bluetooth activated and they must both be within a radius of about 9 meters so that they can find each other. And contrary to other claims, AirDrop does not work if you have activated airplane mode on the iPhone. There were once rumors that Apple would not switch everything off here and, for example, would still allow Bluetooth and Wifi to run with restrictions so that people could continue to use AirDrop. That's not the case. I've just tried it myself. ;-)
Fast data transfer via WLAN connection
AirDrop does not use Bluetooth, NFC or Bluetooth Low Energy to transfer the data, but only a direct WLAN connection between the two devices. As a result, it is usually very fast and transfers data faster than other apps that rely on Bluetooth (LE) or NFC could.
AirDrop settings on macOS
To start AirDrop under macOS, open a Finder window and click on “AirDrop” under “Favorites” in the left sidebar. In the lower area you will now find a selection field in which you can set “I am visible to”. Here too - as with iOS - the options are “Nobody”, “Only contacts” or “Everyone”.
How to use AirDrop on iOS and iPadOS
If you want to share a file via AirDrop, you call up the sharesheet or the “Share” button and then click on the AirDrop button. A list of devices to which the files can be sent now appears.
If the other device cannot be seen, then its AirDrop settings are probably set so that the device should not be visible to others in AirDrop. You can find this setting on iOS and iPadOS under
Settings> General> AirDrop
There you should have activated the option “Only for contacts” or “For everyone” so that you are visible to the other Apple device.
If you send the files now, the recipient must agree to the transfer before it actually starts.
This question is only omitted if you want to transfer something to yourself from one device to another. To do this, both Apple devices must be registered with the same Apple ID.
Access the AirDrop settings via the iOS control center
A shorter way than via the settings is via the iOS control center, which you can access on newer iPhones by swiping down from the top-right corner of the iPhone screen.
In the control center, press longer on the area with the four network settings (Bluetooth, Wifi, mobile data and flight mode), which opens a larger field with more setting options.
Hold down the "AirDrop" button for a second to change its settings.
Screen time is blocking AirDrop
Under certain circumstances it can also happen that an expired screen time prevents AirDrop from being activated via the button. In this case one passes over Settings> Screen Time> Restrictions> Allowed Apps and adds "AirDrop" there.
This ensures that AirDrop will also run if Screen Time would normally have blocked it.
Apple itself has also created two help documents on the topic of AirDrop, which can be viewed here:
Jens has been running the blog since 2012. He appears as Sir Apfelot for his readers and helps them with problems of a technical nature. In his free time he drives electric unicycles, takes photos (preferably with his iPhone, of course), climbs around in the Hessian mountains or hikes with the family. His articles deal with Apple products, news from the world of drones or solutions for current bugs.