AirDrop Not Working? 5 Fixes

File Transfer

If your AirDrop transfers aren’t working, you’ll need to troubleshoot it. In this short guide, we cover the most common fixes to get AirDrop working again.

If you’re an Apple device owner and you’re looking to share files between your devices, you’ll need to use AirDrop.

AirDrop is one of the most convenient features built into Apple’s devices, allowing you to quickly share files without installing other apps or services. If AirDrop isn’t working the way you’d like it to, however, you’ll need to troubleshoot the problem using these fixes.

How is AirDrop Supposed to Work?

Before you start trying to solve AirDrop issues, we’re going to start with a description of how AirDrop is supposed to work.

Firstly, AirDrop works using Bluetooth. That means it’s a short-range way to share files and links with other Apple users. If you aren’t within a few feet of each other or if you’re in separate rooms, then this is most likely the reason that AirDrop isn’t working. Likewise, if your Bluetooth radio is switched off, you won’t be able to use AirDrop.

AirDrop is also exclusive to Apple devices. Sorry—you can’t AirDrop files from an Apple device to a Windows or Android device.

You’ll also need to make sure that the person receiving the file accepts it. If you’re trying to AirDrop a file to someone you don’t know, they’re probably denying your AirDrop request.

How to Fix AirDrop

If AirDrop isn’t working on your Apple device. you’ll need to investigate by following these steps.

1. Check Your Device’s Compatibility and Software

The first thing you should check is that your Apple device is compatible with AirDrop. AirDrop was released in 2011 with iOS 7 and macOS 10.7 (Lion). If your Apple device was released after this generation, then you should be able to use AirDrop on your device.

To be clear, AirDrop is compatible with these devices:

  • iPhone 5 and newer
  • iPad 4th generation and newer (2012)
  • All other iPad models (including iPad Pro and iPad Air)
  • iPod touch 5th generation and newer (2012)
  • All iMac, Mac, and MacBook models from 2010 onward can AirDrop between other Macs
  • All iMac, Mac, and MacBook models from 2012 onward can AirDrop between Mac and iPhone or iPad.

You can see if your iPhone or iPad meets these criteria by opening Settings on iOS, tapping General, then tapping About. For Macs, click the Apple () logo in the top-left of the Menu Bar and click About This Mac.

Additionally, you need to make sure that you’re running the latest version of iOS, iPadOS, or macOS.

To update your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Software Update.
  4. If a new update is available, tap Download and Install and follow the onscreen prompts.

To update your Mac:

  1. Click the  logo in the top-left of the Menu Bar and click System Preferences… from the dropdown menu.
  2. Click Software Update.
  3. If updates are available, click Update Now and follow the onscreen prompts.

2. Check Your AirDrop Permissions on Both Devices

When enabling AirDrop, you’ll see options that allow you to determine who can share AirDrop files and links to your device. One option is Everyone, which allows anyone to AirDrop files to your device (you still have the option to deny AirDrop requests).

The second option is Contacts, which should only allow AirDrop requests from people in your contacts. However, it’s not uncommon for this setting to reject requests from your contacts.

To test your AirDrop permissions on iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open Control Center by swiping down from the right corner of your screen (or up from the bottom if you have a physical Home Button).
  2. Long press the top-left panel in Control Center.
    Control Center on iPhone
  3. Long press the AirDrop option.
    Enabling AirDrop on iPhone
  4. If you have Receiving Off selected, then you cannot receive AirDrops from anyone.
  5. With Contacts Only selected, you should be able to receive AirDrops from anyone in your contacts. If this isn’t working, however, try switching permissions to Everyone.
  6. If you have Everyone selected and AirDrop isn’t working, then try one of the other solutions in this post.

To Test your AirDrop permissions on Mac:

  1. Open the Finder app.
  2. Click AirDrop in the sidebar or press Command + Shift + R.
    AirDrop on Mac
  3. Select either Contacts Only or Everyone to allow your Mac to receive AirDrop file transfers.
  4. Otherwise, select Receiving Off to stop your Mac from receiving files via AirDrop from other devices.

If your permissions are set correctly, you should be able to receive, as well as send, new files via AirDrop.

3. Restart Your Bluetooth and WiFi Radios

If AirDrop isn’t working on your device, it might be worth trying a quick and easy fix—switching your Bluetooth and WiFi radios off and on again.

To do this on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac:

  1. Open Control Center.
    • On an iPhone or iPad, swipe down from the top-right.
    • On Mac (Big Sur and later), tap the Control Center icon next to the clock in the top-right.
  2. Click or tap the blue WiFi circle so that it turns white.
  3. Wait five seconds, then tap it again so it turns blue.
  4. Repeat the same process with the blue Bluetooth circle.

Once you have done this, repeat your AirDrop transfer to see if the problem is fixed.

4. Turn Off Personal Hotspot, Do Not Disturb, and Airplane Mode

Since AirDrop is a networking function, we’re going to try and toggle even more network settings. Let’s start with Personal Hotspot, which is only available on devices with a SIM card (i.e., every iPhone and certain iPad models).

Try to repeat these steps for both the sending and receiving devices.

To turn Personal Hotspot off on your iPhone or iPad:

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Personal Hotspot.
    Settings on iPhone
  3. Tap the switch next to Allow Others to Join so that it is disabled (i.e., not green).
    Disabling iPhone Personal Hotspot Access

How to Turn Do Not Disturb off on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac:

  1. Open the Control Center on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
    • On iPhones and iPads, swipe down from the top-right.
    • On Mac (Big Sur and later), press the Control Center button in the top-right.
  2. Long press or click the Focus button.
    Enabling Do Not Disturb on iPhone
  3. Tap or click Do Not Disturb to disable it and ensure that no other Focus modes are enabled.
    Enabling a Focus mode on iPhone

To disable Airplane Mode on iPhone or iPad:

  1. Swipe open Control Center.
    • For iPhone/iPad, swipe down from the top-right.
    • On Mac (Big Sur and later), press the Control Center icon on the menu bar.
  2. Long press the networking panel.
    iPhone Control Center Networking Panel
  3. Make sure that Airplane Mode is set to Off (i.e., not orange).
    Switching Airplane Mode Off on iPhone

Try AirDrop again.

5. Restart Your Devices (and Contact Apple Support)

Finally, if none of this has worked so far, try restarting both devices. You can restart a Mac by clicking the Apple () logo in the Menu Bar and clicking Restart.

On iPhone and iPad devices, hold the Power Button and the Home Button. Or, if you don’t have a Home Button, hold the Power Button and the Volume Up button.

If you’re still having issues with AirDrop not working, then it’s probably time to contact Apple Support. Most software issues like this can be fixed for free and through an online live chat—no phone call required.

Fixing AirDrop Issues on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

With any luck, the steps above will help you to fix your AirDrop transfers if AirDrop is not working properly. If all else fails, don’t forget to give Apple Support a call (as long as your device is in warranty).

While you can’t use AirDrop with Android devices, you may be able to use Bluetooth to send files to Android instead. If that doesn’t work, you could think about setting up a Dropbox photo sharing gallery to share your snaps between all of your devices.

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