AirDrop is a useful feature built-in to iOS and macOS to seamlessly share content directly to another Apple device. Whether you haven’t used AirDrop at all or just want a refresher, follow along for how to use AirDrop with iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

AirPods

AirDrop is a really efficient way to share files. It’s not always the first option that comes to mind when sharing content with others (or between your own devices), but making a habit out of it can save lots of time.

First things first, let’s make sure that AirDrop is turned on (and also compatible with your Mac). Skip below if you’d like to start reading how to use AirDrop.

How to make sure AirDrop is turned on for iPhone and iPad

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to launch Control Center.
  2. Tap on AirDrop
  3. Select Contacts Only or Everyone
  4. Make sure both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned on

Image showing how to turn on AirDrop in iOS Control Center

Choosing Contacts Only will provide the most privacy, while selecting Everyone may give you greater convenience if you regularly share information with people you don’t have in your contacts.

Apple notes on its website that “If the recipient [device] is signed in to your iCloud account, the item you’re sending is automatically accepted and saved. Otherwise, the recipient is asked to accept the item before it’s saved to their device.”

AirDrop requires both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to be turned on, and Personal Hotspot to be turned off.

How to make sure AirDrop is turned for a Mac

  1. Launch Finder
  2. Click on Go in the menu bar and then click AirDrop
  3. Make sure the at the bottom of the Finder window your status is Allow me to be discovered by: Contacts Only or Everyone (click to change)
  4. Make sure both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned on

For full AirDrop functionality you’ll need a 2012 Mac (excluding the 2012 Mac Pro) or later. However, if you click Don’t see who you’re looking for? on a Mac you can search for older Macs.

Launching AirDrop by clicking on Go in the menu bar when using Finder

If you don’t see AirDrop under Go like the image above, your Mac doesn’t meet Apple’s system requirements for the feature.

Image showing how to use AirDrop on a Mac in Finder

Now that you’ve got AirDrop turned on with your devices, let’s take a look at how to use it.

How to use AirDrop with Mac, iPhone, and iPad

There are a few ways to share files from a Mac with AirDrop. First we’ll look at using the feature by dragging files to the AirDrop Favorites shortcut in Finder’s sidebar.

If you’d like to see to how to use AirDrop with iPhone and iPad, skip below.

Find the file or content you’d like to share with another Apple device in Finder and drag it over AirDrop in Finder’s sidebar under Favorites.

Image showing dragging file to the AirDrop shortcut in Finder's sidebar

Hold until Finder opens AirDrop and then drag your file on top of the person/device you’d like to share your file(s).

Image showing how to drag a file in Finder to the AirDrop shortcut in Finder's sidebar

In this example I’ve shared the PDF to my iPhone. Depending on what file type is being sent, iOS may ask which app you’d like to use to open and/or save the file.

Image showing an iPhone receiving an PDF via AirDrop

When receiving via AirDrop on a Mac you’ll find the content is automatically saved in the Downloads folder.

Image showing incoming file via AirDrop on a Mac

You can click on Open in the notification in the upper right hand corner of your Mac or navigate to Finder → Downloads.

Another way to send content via AirDrop with a Mac is to highlight your desired file(s) and right click on one of the items.

Image showing how to use AirDrop on a Mac with the right click menu

Click on Share and then AirDrop.

Next select the person/device you’d like to share with.

When receiving photos via AirDrop on an iPhone or iPad, the images will be saved directly to the Photos app.

The images above also show how to share via AirDrop with iPhone and iPad by selecting a photo, tapping the share button Share button in the bottom left corner and tapping on who you’d like to share with via AirDrop.

Like the images above show, you can AirDrop many file types from most applications within iOS, just look for the share button iconShare button.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re likely using AirDrop like a pro. For more ways to get the most out of your Apple devices, check out our how to guide.


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