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AirDrop is a great feature that allows you to quickly and securely transfer files between two Apple devices. Want to send a video to a nearby friend’s iPhone or transfer some documents from your iPad to your Mac in an instant? AirDrop can help, with a single tap from the iOS share sheet.
When it works, it’s seamless and represents everything great about Apple’s various devices working in unison. Features like this (and Handover) showcase why Apple’s closed ecosystem can be so powerful.
But as a feature that relies on both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to work, with various privacy settings that can block devices from being “found,” AirDrop doesn’t always work out as advertised. And when it doesn’t work, the magic falls away fast.
There are two main things you’ll want to try if AirDrop isn’t working for you.
Firstly, double-check the visibility settings on both the device you’re sending from and the device you’re sending to. Head into the Settings app and tap through to General > AirDrop. Here you can choose who can send things to your device with AirDrop. We’d recommend keeping it to Contacts Only most of the time, to avoid random strangers trying to send you stuff in public areas. But if you’re trying to send something and it’s not working, there’s no harm in temporarily switching to Everyone to ensure the device can be found.
Secondly, it can help to reset your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections on both devices. Sometimes the “Airplane Mode shuffle” in Control Center will do the trick, but to fully reset the connections you’ll need to delve back into Settings. Simply head to the Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi section and toggle the main switch on and then off again.
If you’re still having trouble after all that, iMore has a detailed article about how AirDrop works, including even more ways to fix it when it goes awry. But for the vast majority of cases, the above should do the trick.