How to use AirDrop on your iPhone, iPad or Mac

Ever wanted to share your photos and videos effortlessly between iPhone and other iOS devices? Say hello to AirDrop – Apple’s solution for easy file sharing.

What is AirDrop?

AirDrop lets you transfer files between iPhones, iPads and Macs, quickly and easily, without sapping your WiFi or mobile data. It uses Bluetooth (low energy) to broadcast, discover and negotiate connections, and point-to-point WiFi to transfer information. This means that it’s not only fast but also efficient and fully secure.

AirDrop gives you the freedom to share and receive almost anything between your iPhone and other Apple devices. You can AirDrop photos, videos, contacts, voice memos, locations and anything else that takes your fancy.

Get your iOS device ready

AirDrop may sound like the best thing since sliced bread, but there are few key things to consider before you start sharing:

  • Switch off Personal Hotspots.
  • Check your recipient's device is nearby with Bluetooth and WiFi switched on and in range.
  • If their AirDrop is set to receive from Contacts Only, they'll need to add your Apple ID email or mobile number to your contact card.
  • If you're not in their phone's Contacts, they should adjust their AirDrop settings to allow sharing with Everyone.

AirDrop gives you the freedom to customise your settings, anytime. You can easily switch between sharing with Contacts Only or Everyone. Sticking to Contacts Only can make things a little trickier though, as you and the other person both have to log into iCloud and be in each other’s Contacts.

How to turn on and use AirDrop

If you’re using an iPhone 11 or a newer model, follow these steps to turn on AirDrop:

  1. Launch the Control Centre by swiping up from your iPhone's bottom bezel.
  2. Press and hold the WiFi button until 6 further options appear on-screen.
  3. Tap the AirDrop icon.
  4. Once there, tap Contacts Only or Everyone to turn on AirDrop. Alternatively, you can keep it switched off by tapping Receiving Off.

How to accept AirDrop

As soon as someone tries to send you something via AirDrop, you’ll receive an alert and a quick preview. From here, you can decide whether to accept the pic (or file) or not. This can be especially useful when sharing with Everyone as you can decline any strange or unwanted files.

If you tap Accept, the AirDrop file will appear within the same app it was sent from. Website links will open in Safari, for example, and shared photos will appear within the Photos app. Worth remembering, if you are busy using the phone at the same time, you’ll be switched out from your current app and interrupted by AirDrop.

Hint: If you’re using AirDrop to share files to your own personal devices, the preview and alert will not appear. For instance, if you were sending a photo from your iPhone’s camera roll to your MacBook, you will not be able to Accept or Decline the transfer – the file will already be there. Just be sure to sign in on both devices with your Apple ID.

Managing your AirDrop settings

You have a number of options at your disposal when managing AirDrop settings.

You can control who sees your device by visiting Settings, then General. Or by revisiting the options in the Control Centre. As mentioned, you can choose to share with Contacts Only, Everyone or you can even switch to Receiving Off.

How to block AirDrop on an iPhone

If you wanted to block AirDrop altogether, you can do so using Screen Time restrictions. This can be especially useful if you’re keen to add parental controls to your child’s Apple device. To do so:

  1. Go to Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Scroll down to find Screen Time.
  3. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  4. Select Allowed Apps.
  5. Tap the AirDrop On/Off slider until the switch is greyed out.

You can easily re-enable AirDrop by following the above steps again.

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