Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 11.08.56 PMAirDrop can be a be a quick, simple way to transfer files between iOS devices. It can be especially handy because it is truly a device-to-device transfer that works even when neither device has internet access, although Wi-Fi  and Bluetooth have to be turned on for it to function. In this article I will discuss how to turn on AirDrop and use it to share files between devices.

In Apple apps, any files that can be transferred using the share icon can be sent via AirDrop. This includes photos, videos, iWork documents, notes, contacts, links, directions, and location data. Some third-party apps can also share data using AirDrop. AirDrop for mobile devices is a feature of iOS 7, and can only be used to share files between mobile devices, not between computers and mobile devices.

In order to take advantage of AirDrop, you have to be running iOS 7 on one of the following devices:

  • iPad 4 or later
  • iPhone 5 or later
  • iPod Touch 5th gen

Both iOS devices need to have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on in settings as mentioned above.

To activate Airdrop, access Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Confirm that both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned on at the top of the panel. T
ap AirDrop, and a menu will appear with the options Off, Contacts Only, and Everyone. Choosing Everyone allows you to share files without using the internet or an iCloud account.


If you choose Contacts Only, you will be prompted to sign in to iCloud, so internet is required. After you login to iCloud successfully, you will only be able to send and receive files from people in your contacts. You can change this setting at any time from Control Center.

Be aware that if you choose Everyone, you might still (mysteriously) be prompted to enter your iCloud password. However if you choose Cancel, you then have the ability to share with everyone.


Share Files or Data
Access an application that is capable of sharing. These include, but are not limited to, Safari, Photos, Maps, Notes, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, Photo Booth, and Contacts. Select the files you want to share. For example in Maps, bring up a location or directions. In Contacts, select a card to share. In Photos, use the Select button and choose one or more photos or videos. Once you’ve picked the file you want to share, tap the Share icon. On the sharing menu a round icon will be displayed for each device that has AirDrop turned on and is within AirDrop range of you. Tap the icon of the device you want to send to.

(If you chose Contacts when you activated AirDrop, only devices that are logged into iCloud accounts that are in your Contacts are displayed.)

A prompt to accept or reject the shared file(s) is displayed on the other iOS device.

A sound alert will also play on the target device. This sound can be customized in Settings > Sounds > AirDrop.


When large files such as videos are shared, a circular progress icon is displayed. When a large file transfer is complete, a confirmation is displayed on the receiving device.

A confirmation that file was successfully sent is also displayed on sending  device.


Another benefit of AirDrop is that it provides a way to transfer files and data easily for people who prefer not to use iCloud. Even if you are using iCloud, it is still very useful for sharing individual files through apps that don’t support iCloud sharing. Another benefit is the ability to transfer files and directions between devices in the great outdoors, and areas where Wi-Fi  and cell towers are not ubiquitous.

During informal testing of the transfer rates when on Wi-Fi, we did not see any difference between how long it took to send large files using AirDrop vs. iMessage.

We would like to hear from readers about other situations where AirDrop is being used creatively. Also, please feel free to participate in the the poll below, and let us know if you have taken advantage of this feature.