Problem: AirDrop mp4 file from Mac to iPhone

AirDrop transfer mp4 file from Mac to iPhone

When my reader Josef wrote to me today that he was trying in vain to send an mp4 file from the Mac to his iPhone via AirDop, I initially thought there were errors in the settings that were preventing the whole thing. However, we were able to rule that out after a few WhatsApp messages, because it uses the same iCloud address on both devices and can also send other files back and forth without any problems.

If you don't want to read a lot, here's a short solution to the problem: simply rename the file and append ".mkv" to the ".mp4" file extension. Ready.

If you have a little more time, you can of course also read the rest of the article. There might be some interesting insights in there.

What happens when transferring via AirDrop

If you send files from a Mac to an iPhone, it depends on the file extension or the file extension what the iPhone does with it. For example, JPG and PNG files are opened directly in the Photos app.

If the iPhone doesn't know what to do with the file, a window opens in which you can choose from various suggestions.

This is what the menu on the iPhone looks like when it accepts a file that is not automatically opened in Photos.

This is what the menu on the iPhone looks like when it accepts a file that is not automatically opened in Photos.

Only at the MP4-file of my reader just nothing happened. I strongly suspect that this is a bug in iOS that Apple needs to fix. But until then, there are still a few ways to resolve the matter.

Solution: Convert or rename file

There are two ways to get the mp4 file from the Mac to the iPhone or iPad.

  1. My reader quickly converted it into an mp3 format. However, this means that it is an audio file and no longer a film. If you just want to hear the music anyway, that's no problem, but if you want the whole movie with audio and video, the conversion won't get you anywhere.
  2. The second - and in my opinion more elegant - solution is to rename the file from something.mp4 to something.mp4.mkv. In principle, you only add the extension ".mkv" to the existing file extension.

Then you can transfer the file and the usual window should appear asking how you want to handle the file.

At this point, two more useful tips:

It's Apple's turn...

However, the best solution would be if Apple would fix this bug and refrain from using the usual support requests in this context AirDrop- to send out instructions, because they really don't help anyone.

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10 comments

  1. Viktor says:

    Hi. Something is fishy here. A compatible mp4 is also saved in the photo album by the iPhone and even called up automatically as soon as the file has been sent via Airdrop. I rather assume that the mp4 file was not correctly encoded and is therefore ignored by the iPhone. You said it yourself that it was later converted into an mp3 music file. The whole thing sounds like YouTube rips, but even that should work fine since YouTube has compatible Mp4 formats. Everything just checked again before the comment.

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Yes, I thought so too at first, but when I checked the Apple Support Forums afterwards, there were more people having the same problem with mp4 files. But maybe they're just in a different encoding that AirDrop doesn't like.

  2. Matthias says:

    I have the same problem, but I sent 12GB of mp4 data that is also in use on my iPhone 13, but I can't find the videos, how do I get the data now to delete it from the iPhone?

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Unfortunately I don't understand the question. Surely you should know where are MP4 files if you've tried to AirDrop them? I assume it didn't work because of the amount of data.

  3. Matthias Schroeder says:

    I have AirDroped DJI MP4 files from iMac to iPhone13, only one sound can be heard, no location window. In my iPhone settings I could see that the GB I sent ended up on the iPhone, but the DJI MP4 files didn't end up under Photos or in the Downloads folder either.

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Yes, I think that was too much data. Maybe better via iCloud files. Or via wetransfer or something… AirDrop is pretty shaky, to put it diplomatically. 😂

  4. Matthias Schroeder says:

    Do you have any idea how to get the data off the iPhone? Are plenty of GBs

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      You should be able to find them through the Photos app. But if not, and they're just temporary files taking up space, restarting the iPhone might help...

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