Learn how to use AirDrop on an iPhone or iPad
Like many features native to iOS and MacOS, AirDrop is both quick and easy. Similar to sending files via text and email, you can use the cross-platform utility to send photos, videos, songs, and even robust PDF files. This is particularly handy when you are in close proximity to the person you’d like to send your file to, as AirDrop only works when users are near one another.
Moreover, from a security standpoint, AirDrop is safer to use than both email and text. The feature uses a Bluetooth connection to create a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi network between your iOS and MacOS devices, and creates a firewall which allows for added encryption.
Another benefit of AirDrop is that several native iOS apps support it. You can access the feature from directly within Photos, Notes, Safari, Contacts, and Maps, without having to navigate to a different screen or copy and paste the information. Well, that is, assuming you know how to use AirDrop in the first place. If you don’t, the tutorial below will provide you with everything you need to know.
Apple reconfigured the Control Center in iOS 11, making AirDrop less accessible than it once was. Thankfully, the feature is still easy to access.
- Step 1: Swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to reveal the Control Center. If using an iPhone X, swipe down from the upper-right corner of the display.
- Step 2: Locate the upper-left box, which contains Airplane Mode, Bluetooth, and other connectivity controls.
- Step 3: Perform a 3D Touch or hold down on any of the aforementioned icons. This will expand the box, and reveal additional controls like AirDrop.
- Step 4: Tap the AirDrop button to open the quick settings menu. Here, you will be able to set your ability to send and receive files via AirDrop.
Note: If you see “Receiving Off” and can’t seem to change it, go to Settings > General > Restrictions and ensure the AirDrop feature is toggled on.
Making sense of AirDrop’s quick settings
Once you have access the quick settings menu, you’ll be presented with three options:
- Receiving Off: This blocks your device from receiving any and all AirDrop requests.
- Contacts Only: This makes it so only your contacts can see your device.
- Everyone: This allows all nearby iOS users who are using AirDrop to share files with you.
Sharing files via AirDrop
Now that AirDrop is turned on, follow these steps below to share files, photos, and other content:
- Step 1: Go to the file, photo, or other piece of content you’d like to share.
- Step 2: Tap the Share button in the bottom-left corner of your device’s display. The feature’s icon will depict a box with an arrow pointing upward.
- Step 3: Directly below the image or piece of content, you should see a list of available devices. Tap the name of the device with which you wish to share.
- Step 4: Once accepted, “sent” will appear under the device name.
Accepting or declining an AirDrop transfer
Sending a piece of content via AirDrop is easy, as is accepting or declining an AirDrop transfer. If someone sends a file or photo to you using AirDrop, an alert will appear on your screen with a preview of said content.
Tapping Accept will open the app that corresponds with the file (Photos, for instance), whereas tapping Decline will cancel the transfer. Keep in mind that if you’re sharing content with yourself via AirDrop, you won’t see an option to accept or decline an AirDrop transfer; the content will automatically transfer between your devices, assuming both are signed in using the same Apple ID.
If you’re having trouble transferring content between devices, make sure both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are turned on. This applies to each device, as AirDrop only works when both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are enabled.
If that doesn’t solve the issue, ensure you’re not using your iPhone or iPad as a personal hot spot. To do so, go to Settings > Cellular > Personal Hotspot, and ensure the slider beside the feature is toggled off.
If none of the above solve the issue, make sure the two devices are within range of one another. AirDrop will not work if either user is out of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi range. Also, if the person you’re attempting to share your content with has AirDrop set to Contacts Only, and your information is not saved in their contacts, make sure they toggle their AirDrop configuration to receive AirDrop content from Everyone.