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Ask an expert: control and block AirDrop requests

No time to drop into the Apple Store and ask the Genius Bar for help with your iPhone or iPad? Maybe one of our resident experts can help!

As Apple nerds, we get asked a lot of tech support questions — and some of those questions crop up time and time again. Here’s a recent query that we think will be familiar to many of you.

“When I commute on public transport, I get bombarded with AirDrop requests — help!”

To figure out what’s going on here, we need to delve into what AirDrop is, how it’s set up, and human nature.

AirDrop is a peer-to-peer wireless method to transfer files between Apple devices. For example, if you’ve an iPhone and a Mac, it can be a fast and efficient way to send a single photo from the former to the latter, without having to mess around with email or wait for iCloud Photos to sync.

Of course, people enjoy playing pranks, and so when there are ‘open’ AirDrop targets, you might find teenagers sending you obscure images and daft memes — which can be quite fun. But we’ve also heard of people being harassed via AirDrop, either in the manner you suggest (getting sent too many requests) or through being sent inappropriate content.

Depending on your personal preferences, you can set the AirDrop visibility of your iPhone or iPad to one of three different levels. Access Control Center and long-press the networking buttons group at the top-left. When the panel with six buttons appears, long-press AirDrop. To turn off AirDrop entirely, select Receiving Off. Choosing Contacts Only limits AirDrop requests to people in your address book. Finally, Everyone is the free-for-all setting, if you’ve a taste for memes.