Apple introduced Airdrop back with Mac OS X Lion and iOS 7. It allowed users to wirelessly transfer photos, videos, documents, etc., between their Apple devices, essentially eliminating the need for long, inconvenient wire transfers. Airdrop uses Bluetooth 4.x for power-efficient broadcast and discovery and peer-to-peer Wi-Fi for speedy transfer.
This proved to be a popular way for transfers among those who had supporting devices. The main reason for this was the simplicity and security involved and the retention of the original image/video quality of media files over Airdrop. However, for some people, Airdrop never seems to work, or they never find their other device for file transfers. Below we’ll discuss some common fixes for Airdrop that should help you use the feature.
Is Your Device Supported?
All newer Apple devices are supported in Airdrop, so there’s a chance this won’t be the issue. Still, do make sure your specific device is supported. Here’s the complete list of supported devices:
AirDrop between Mac and iPhone or iPad:
- Mac from 2012 or later (excluding the mid-2012 Mac Pro) using OS X Yosemite or later
- iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch using iOS 7 or later
AirDrop between Macs (both computers):
- MacBook Pro introduced in late 2008 or later, excluding the MacBook Pro (17-inch, late 2008)
- MacBook Air introduced in late 2010 or later
- MacBook introduced in late 2008 or later, excluding the white MacBook (Late 2008)
- iMac introduced in early 2009 or later
- Mac Mini introduced in mid 2010 or later
- Mac Pro introduced in early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card) or mid 2010
- iMac Pro (all models)
Check Your Device Settings
As we mentioned before, Airdrop uses both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for file transfers. These work efficiently when the devices are close to each other (a maximum of 30 feet apart), so make sure both of your devices are close by. You also need to make sure both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are enabled on your devices. Even if they already are, it’s a good option to toggle them off and on again. Since Control Centre no longer turns Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off completely, it’s better to do this from the device’s settings.
On an iOS device (iPhone/iPad), you can do this by following these steps:
- Open the Settings app.
- Tap on Wi-Fi, and toggle it off and back on.
- Tap on Bluetooth, and toggle it off and back on.
Similarly, on a Mac, if you have Bluetooth enabled in your top-right menu bar, you can toggle both Wi-Fi (included by default) and Bluetooth from there. Otherwise, follow these steps:
- Open the System Preferences app on your Mac
- Click on Network, and toggle Wi-Fi off and on.
- Similarly, from the main menu click on Bluetooth, and toggle it off and back on.
Both of your devices should be unlocked and have their respective Airdrop panels on (Finder -> Airdrop on a Mac and Control Centre in iOS). You also need to make sure your device isn’t in “Do Not Disturb” mode, since that usually dismisses the Airdrop alert on the file receiving device. It’s advised to turn “Do Not Disturb” off altogether while doing Airdrop transfers.
Check Your Sharing Settings
The last step to check is your Airdrop settings. By default, Airdrop features three levels of “visibility” to other devices:
- No one
- Contacts only
It is possible that although you have the other device in your contacts list, the device is still not showing. In that case, try changing the visibility setting on both the devices to “Everyone,” which should make the devices visible (provided you’ve followed all above steps correctly).