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AirDrop not working: Here’s the solution

Fast and easy: AirDrop is arguably one of the most helpful features for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users to send files back and forth. However, sometimes problems crop up – and there are potentially many of them. In this article, we provide many solutions if your AirDrop not working.

AirDrop not working

AirDrop is a convenient way to transfer files between your Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Unfortunately, as ingenious as this feature is, it doesn’t always work. In this article, we’ll look at the most common problems – and how to fix them.

Problems with WiFi and Bluetooth

Since AirDrop works via Bluetooth and WiFi, this is also where the most common sources of errors lie. Therefore, check the following first:

  • Turn Bluetooth and WiFi on the iPhone or iPad off and on again. To do this, open the control center and tap on the corresponding icons.
  • Alternatively, you can simply turn airplane mode on and off your iPhone.

Now turn to your Mac or the Mac you want to share. Again, turn Bluetooth and WiFi off and back on. If AirDrop still doesn’t work after the above steps, you might be experiencing one of the following issues.

AirDrop not working on iPhone and iPad

Since AirDrop has been turned on by default on iOS devices since iOS 11 (as long as WiFi is also turned on), this should be the case on your device. Check it anyway, just to be sure.

1. Check if AirDrop is turned on.

There are several ways to turn on AirDrop on an iOS device:

  • Either pull down the Control Center and press and hold in the center of the area where you see the logos for Airplane Mode, WiFi, and Bluetooth. Then click AirDrop.
  • Or open Settings > General > AirDrop and choose from the options: “Receive from“, “For contacts only“, “For everyone“.

However, if the person who wants to send you something via AirDrop can’t see you – or you can’t see the iPhone of the person you want to send something to via AirDrop – it may help to change the setting to “For Everyone.”

2. Restart your iPhone

If AirDrop still doesn’t work, restart your iPhone. How you do this depends on your model. In the case of an iPhone with a Home button, press and hold the Power button. In the case of iPhones and iPads that don’t have a home button, you need to press the volume controls first and then press and hold the power button.

3. Update software

Maybe a software bug is the cause of the problem, but Apple has already fixed it via update. For this reason, you should check if your software is up to date.

To do so, tap Settings > General > Software Update on your iOS device.

AirDrop not working on Mac

If AirDrop isn’t working on your Mac, or if your Mac isn’t showing up for AirDrop, there are a few things you can also try.

1. Check if AirDrop is turned on: Mac.

  • If your Mac is not showing up for AirDrop, you should check if AirDrop is turned on.
  • Open the Finder on your Mac.
  • Click AirDrop in the sidebar.
  • It will display your AirDrop status here. Pay attention to what it says next to “I’m visible to.” If it says “No one,” no one can see you; if it says “Contacts only,” you can only be seen by the people you’ve added to your Contacts app.
  • Alternatively, you may see a message indicating that you can’t use AirDrop, perhaps because you’re sharing your Internet connection over WiFi – we’ll look at this scenario in more detail below.
  • Click the down arrow and select “Contacts only” if you don’t want strangers to be able to see you via AirDrop. Select “Everyone” if you want to maximize your chances of being “seen” (if your AirDrop partner is not in your contacts, for example).

2. Restart Mac

Sometimes, if there is a problem with WiFi or Bluetooth, restarting your Mac can fix the problem. Just click on the Apple logo and select “Restart.”

3. Run software update

As with the iPhone and iPad, you should check to see if you missed a software update, as sometimes bugs occur, and Apple usually fixes them fairly quickly. Click the Apple logo at the top of the screen and select Software Update.

AirDrop not working: Other reasons

If your Mac, iPhone or iPad or the device you want to send something to still doesn’t show up, can’t be found, doesn’t accept or receive the file, or the AirDrop file transfer is cancelled even after following the steps above, it could be due to the following reasons:

Devices are not unlocked

If the iPhone you are trying to send to is not unlocked, it will not be seen by the device you are trying to AirDrop from. So, make sure that all the devices you are using are unlocked.

WiFi is not available

If your Mac’s Internet connection is shared with other devices, your WiFi antenna will not be available for AirDrop. You will need to stop sharing via System Preferences > Sharing and disable Internet sharing. Similarly, if you have created a hotspot with your iPhone. Also, make sure that Airplane Mode is not turned on.

Problems with Bluetooth

Alternatively, your Bluetooth connection could be the culprit. In this case, you could try disconnecting all other Bluetooth devices to see if this makes a difference. If you have another Bluetooth device, you can try connecting it. This way, you should be able to determine if Bluetooth has a problem.

Interference from other devices

It’s not just Bluetooth devices that can cause problems. There are all sorts of gadgets in our homes that can interfere with our network connections, from microwaves to baby monitors. So if you were trying to AirDrop something while the microwave was on, this could be the cause of the connection not working.

AirDrop not working: Disable firewall

It is possible that a firewall installed on your Mac is preventing AirDrop from working. To disable the firewall, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall > Turn off firewall. Also, make sure that the “Block all incoming connections” option is not enabled in the firewall.

Use an 802.11ac network

If you are still having problems, try switching to an 802.11ac network if one is available. With 802.11n networks, you sometimes experience problems with AirDrop.

The file is too large

The size of the file will not be the reason why AirDrop does not work, as there is no limit to the size of the file sent via AirDrop. However, if the file is very large, it will take a long time to send, which could be a reason why AirDrop doesn’t seem to work. Even if the device accepting the file transfer is low on memory, the file may not be able to be sent.

Too far away

According to Apple, the range of AirDrop is about nine to ten meters – which is the range of Bluetooth typically used in mobile devices.

AirDrop rejected

It is quite possible that the recipient has accidentally denied the incoming AirDrop request. It can cause the AirDrop not working.

Location of the AirDrop file unknown

It is also possible that you sent the file, but the recipient does not know where it was saved. When you AirDrop to a Mac, the file is stored in the Downloads folder. You’ll find this in your Dock, click on it, and a stack of the files in your Downloads folder will appear. If there are a lot of files there, or you’re not sure which file was sent, scroll down and click “Open in Finder.” In the Finder, it’s easy to preview the file (by selecting it and pressing the spacebar) or sort by date to see which file was added last.

When you AirDrop to an iPhone or iPad, the file is routed to the most appropriate app. So if an image is sent, it will go directly to Photos. It will go there if you send a Pages document (and the recipient has the Pages app installed). If there is no suitable app, the recipient will be presented with a list of suitable apps to choose from.

No supported format

There are a lot of files and data you can share via AirDrop: From the obvious photos and videos to map locations, contacts, and IDs (which you can find in your Wallet app).

When you try to share music via AirDrop, you’ll see the option to share via AirDrop, but that doesn’t mean you can actually send the track using that method. Your AirDrop recipient may receive a link to download the music from iTunes unless they have an Apple Music subscription.

Your device does not support AirDrop

If in your device AirDrop not working, you may have an older device that does not yet support AirDrop. The following list includes all AirDrop compatible devices:

  • 2008 Macbook Pro and up (excluding the 2008 17-inch Macbook Pro).
  • 2010 Macbook Air and up
  • 2008 Macbook and up (except the white 2008 Macbook)
  • 2012 iMac and up
  • 2010 Mac Mini and up
  • 2009 Mac Pro and up (if it has an Airport Extreme card)
  • iMac Pro (any model)

Any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch running iOS 7 or later can AirDrop to another iOS device.

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