How to Use AirDrop from iPhone

Learn how to AirDrop from your iPhone to your Mac or other devices

Using AirDrop on iPhone
image credit: Andrew Bret Wallis/Photodisc/Getty Images

Got a photo, text document, or another file you want to share with someone nearby? You could email or text it to them, but using AirDrop to wirelessly transfer it to them is easy and fast. 

AirDrop is an Apple technology that uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless networking to let users share files directly between their iOS devices and Macs. Once it's enabled, you can use it to share content from any app that supports it.

Many of the built-in apps that come with the iOS support it, including Photos, Notes, Safari, Contacts, and Maps. As a result, you can share things like photos and videos, URLs, address book entries, and text files. Some third-party apps also support AirDrop to let you share their content (it's up to each developer to include AirDrop support in their apps).

AirDrop Requirements

In order to use AirDrop, you need:

  • An iPhone 5 or newer, a 5th generation iPod touch or newer, an iPad mini, or 4th generation iPad or newer.
  • iOS 7 or higher.
  • A Mac from 2012 or later.
  • A Mac running OS X Yosemite (10.10) or higher.
  • Another iOS or Mac user with an AirDrop-compatible device.
  • Bluetooth turned on.
  • The person you want to share content can only be a handful of feet from you. AirDrop only works when you're in roughly the same place as another user (the same room, apartment, office, etc.); it doesn't work over the Internet if you're in different cities, for instance.
  • Connection to a ​​ Wi-Fi network.
of 05

Enabling AirDrop

using airdrop on iPhone, step 2

In order to use AirDrop, you need to turn it on. To do that, open Control Center (by swiping up from the bottom of the screen). The AirDrop icon should be in the middle, next to the AirPlay Mirroring button. Tap the AirDrop button. 

When you do this, a menu pops up asking who you want to be able to see and send files to your device over AirDrop (other users can't see your device's content, just that it exists and is available for AirDrop sharing). Your options are:

  • Receiving Off: Tap this to turn off AirDrop.
  • Contacts Only: Tap this if you only want people in your address book to be able to see your device via AirDrop. This gives you the most privacy but also limits the number of people you can share with. 
  • Everyone: Just what it says: Anyone who has AirDrop turned on will be able to see your device and share content with you. 

Make your choice and you'll see the AirDrop icon light up and your selection listed. You can now close Control Center. 

of 05

Sharing a File to Your Mac or Other Devices With AirDrop

using airdrop on iPhone, step 3

With AirDrop turned on, you can use it to share content from any app that supports it. Here's how:

  1. Go to the app that has the content you want to share (for this example, we'll use the built-in Photos app, but the basic process is the same in most apps).
  2. When you've found the content you want to share, select it. You can select multiple files to send at the same time if you want.
  3. Next, tap the action box button (the rectangle with the arrow coming out of it at the bottom of the screen).
  4. At the top of the screen, you'll see the content you're sharing. Below that is a list of all the nearby people with AirDrop turned on who you can share with.
  5. Tap the icon for the person you want to share with. At this stage, using AirDrop moves over to the device of the person you're sharing with.
of 05

Accept or Decline AirDrop Transfer

using airdrop on iPhone, step 4
image credit: Apple Inc.

On the device of the user you're sharing content with, a window pops up with a preview of the content you're trying to share. The window offers the other user two options: Accept or Decline the transfer. 

If they tap Accept, the file will be opened in the appropriate app on that other user's device (a photo goes into Photos, an address book entry into Contacts, etc.). If they tap Decline, the transfer is canceled.

If you're sharing a file between two devices that you own and both are signed into the same Apple ID, you won't see the Accept or Decline pop up. The transfer is automatically accepted.

of 05

AirDrop Transfer Is Complete

using airdrop on iPhone, step 5

If the user you're sharing with taps Accept, you'll see a blue line move around the outside of their icon indicating the progress of the transfer. When the transfer is complete, Sent will appear under their icon.

If that user declines the transfer, you'll see Declined under their icon.

And with that, your file sharing is complete. Now you can share other content with the same user, another user, or turn off AirDrop by opening Control Center, tapping the AirDrop icon, and then tapping Off.

of 05

AirDrop Troubleshooting

iphone email won't download
image credit gilaxia/E+/Getty Images

If you're having trouble using AirDrop on your iPhone, try these troubleshooting tips

  • Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Must Be On: AirDrop requires that you and the person receiving the file from you have both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled on your devices. 
  • No Personal Hotspot: AirDrop can't be used when Personal Hotspot is on. Turn it off if either of you is using it.
  • Check Your Range: Because AirDrop is based on Bluetooth, it has Bluetooth's range limitations. You'll need to be within about two dozen feet of the person you're sharing files with for it to work.
  • Check Receiving Settings: If you both meet all of these requirements but AirDrop still isn't working, check the Receiving settings on both devices, as detailed previously in Step 2.