How to share files with AirDrop

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Learn how to share files with AirDrop between iPhone, iPad and Mac, how to accept AirDrops and how to access AirDropped files on your device.

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Image: Designsprache/Adobe Stock

AirDrop is a fantastic feature for sending links, pictures, photos, videos and large files that is available on iPhone, iPad and Mac. It’s very safe to transfer data with AirDrop because the devices sending and receiving the data create a firewall around the connection ensuring files are sent encrypted. There’s also no limit to the size of files that you can send using AirDrop.

What you’ll need to share files with AirDrop

To send or receive files with AirDrop you need to make sure that both you and the person you’re sending files to have AirDrop enabled and are nearby. You also need to have WiFi and Bluetooth turned on to enable the connection between your devices.

Next, check if the recipient has their AirDrop set to receive from Contacts Only in the AirDrop settings. Contacts Only means only their contacts can see their device.

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That means you need to have their phone number in your contacts list for them to receive files from you. Alternatively, ask them to change their AirDrop settings to Everyone to be able to accept AirDrops from you.

How to AirDrop from iPhone to iPad

  • On your iPhone, select the files that you want to transfer to your iPad.
  • After selecting the files, tap on the share icon located at the bottom-left corner of your screen to open the share menu.
  • Select the iPad device to which you want to transfer the files from the share menu.
  • Confirm you want to receive the files by selecting the accept option on your iPad.
  • Once you click on accept the files will be sent to your iPad and they’ll visible immediately.

How to AirDrop files from iPhone to Mac

  • Select any image or file in any app on your iPhone that you want to send to your Mac.
  • Tap on the file.
  • Click on the share button to open the share menu.
  • From the share menu, select AirDrop.
  • Nearby AirDrop-enabled devices will appear on the left side of the share menu. If more are available, a number will appear on the AirDrop icon.
  • Select the people you want to AirDrop the files to from the file-sharing options.
  • You may need to accept or decline the file on the receiving Mac device, depending on your security settings.

How to AirDrop from Mac to iPhone

You can send items from Mac to iPhone from the Finder, the desktop or from within apps such as Safari or Maps.

  • If you are sending items from the desktop: Select any item you want to send from your Mac, open the share menu, select AirDrop and then select the iPhone device you want to send the item to.
  • If you are sending items from the Finder: Click AirDrop in the Finder sidebar, select the item you want to send from your Mac and then drag the item to the iPhone device you want to send to.
  • If you are sending items from an app: Click the share button in the app’s toolbar, open AirDrop and then select the iPhone device you want to send the item to.
  • How to accept an AirDrop

To accept AirDrops, you first need to set your AirDrop to Contact Only or Everyone. Your AirDrop name will then be visible to nearby people in your contact list or all nearby Apple devices.

When someone shares something with you using AirDrop, you will see an alert with a preview on your device. You need to click on accept or decline to receive the file or refuse the transfer. This is important because it prevents nearby strangers from sending unwanted AirDrops directly to your device without your permission — a phenomenon termed cyber-flashing.

It’s safer to only accept transfers from people in your contacts list. You can also set your AirDrop to Receiving Off to prevent your devices from receiving any AirDrop requests.

If you send an item to yourself, you won’t see the prompt to accept or decline the item. It’ll automatically get sent to your device. Just make sure that you have both devices signed in with the same Apple ID.

Where do AirDrop files go?

When you accept the AirDrop, it will appear within the same app from which it was sent. Photos, for example, appear in the Photos app and websites open in Safari. App links open the App Store, where you can download or buy the app.

Any file you receive via AirDrop on your Mac device is automatically saved to the Downloads folder. If you AirDrop a file from an app that isn’t on your iPad device, you’ll be asked which app to open it with.


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