AirDrop actually lets you wirelessly beam almost anything from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to any other recent Apple device as well. It uses Bluetooth 4.x for power-efficient broadcast and discovery, and also peer-to-peer Wi-Fi for speedy transfer. The whole process isn’t just simple, it’s incredibly secure… when it works. If you are having trouble, though, then it can be maddening. However, there are a few things you can try to get it working! In this article, we are going to talk about How to Fix if your Airdrop not Working. Let’s begin!
What Is AirDrop? | airdrop not working
AirDrop is actually Apple’s proprietary method of sending files or data locally between two devices. The devices initially connect over Bluetooth, along with Wi-Fi doing much of the heavy lifting whenever it comes to filing transfers.
This feature was first introduced on Macs in 2008. Then it expanded to iOS devices with the rollout of iOS 7 in 2013. AirDrop is excellent when it works, but if you have older hardware, then you are more likely to experience issues. Visibility issues are the most common problem folks have with AirDrop—sometimes, the recipient does not even show up, no matter how hard you try.
This is one of the reasons that Apple introduced the new U1 chip with ultra-wideband technology for the iPhone 11. The U1 is designed to improve device discoverability and remove the issues that have plagued AirDrop for years. It will be a while before the majority of folks have such a chip in their device, though. For now, we’re actually stuck trying to get AirDrop to work the old-fashioned way.
We’ve split these tips between Mac and iOS devices, as you can use different methods on each of the platforms. If you want to use AirDrop between an iPhone or iPad, and a Mac, make sure to check out both sections for relevant tips.
What device is compatible with AirDrop? | airdrop not working
Older model devices are actually not compatible with AirDrop. Even if one device (such as your iPhone) is compatible, the other devices (like your Mac) must be, too. Let’s see the list of all devices compatible with AirDrop.
AirDrop between Mac and iPhone or iPad as well:
- Mac from 2012 or later (excluding the mid-2012 Mac Pro) using OS X Yosemite or later
- iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using iOS 7 or later
AirDrop between Macs (both of the computers must be at least):
- MacBook Pro introduced in late 2008 or later, excluding the MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2008)
- The MacBook Air introduced in late 2010 or later
- MacBook introduced in late 2008 or later, excluding the white MacBook (Late 2008)
- iMac introduced in early 2009 or later
- Mac mini introduced in mid-2010 or later
- Mac Pro introduced in early 2009 (model with AirPort Extreme card) or mid-2010
- iMac Pro (all models)
Adjust your AirDrop | airdrop not working
AirDrop has actually three levels: Off, Contacts Only, and Everyone. Contacts Only are the most complex of the three, since it has to verify who knows who. If you are in a pinch, you can switch to Everyone and then try again. You can also turn it off and on again.
- Launch Settings from your Home screen
- Click General.
- Press AirDrop.
- Then tap the option you want.
If you’re trying to use AirDrop from an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to your Mac, but your Mac isn’t showing up, then here’s something else to try:
- Open Finder on your Mac.
- Tap on AirDrop in the sidebar.
You can also toggle between Everyone, Contacts, and No One right from there, as mentioned in the step above.
Troubleshoot AirDrop on a Mac | airdrop not working
There are actually more tricks to getting AirDrop working on a Mac than there are for an iOS device. This is because, on a Mac, you have access to the Terminal, more settings that you can adjust, and the ability to remove files from system folders.
You must keep your device up to date if you want to minimize software issues. AirDrop is temperamental at the best of its times, so if your Mac is running an outdated version of macOS. And you are trying to send files to your brand-new iPhone 11, then that might be the problem.
First, back up your Mac with Time Machine, and then go to System Preferences > Software Update and then install all available updates. If you’re not running the latest version of macOS, then open the App Store, search for “macOS,” and then download it for free.
Open AirDrop in Finder
According to Apple, if your Mac runs OS X Mavericks or earlier, then you have to open Finder and tap on AirDrop in the sidebar to transfer files. Apple doesn’t stipulate this requirement for later versions of macOS, however, we’ve had better results when we open the AirDrop window before starting a transfer.
Set Your Mac Visibility to “Everyone”
If you have trouble to send your files to a Mac, adjust the visibility under Finder > AirDrop. At the bottom of the screen, then tap the arrow next to “Allow Me to Be Discovered By:” and choose “Everyone” from the drop-down menu.
If you choose “Contacts Only,” make sure the other party’s contact details appear in your Contacts app. Apple doesn’t specify which specific piece of information it uses to identify a contact. However, an email address linked to an Apple ID is a solid choice.
Most of the time, the “Contacts Only” option doesn’t work properly—even when email addresses and phone numbers are present. For best results, you need to make sure both parties appear in each other’s Contacts apps.
Disable Do Not Disturb
Do Not Disturb mode actually interferes with AirDrop because it makes your Mac invisible to other devices. To disable it, you have to open the “Notification Center” (the icon in the top-right corner of your screen), then tap the “Today” tab, scroll up, and then toggle-Off “Do Not Disturb.”
Search for an Older Mac
Older Macs use a legacy implementation of AirDrop that isn’t compatible with the latest iOS devices as well. You can use a modern Mac to send files to an older Mac, however, you first have to tell AirDrop to search for the older Mac. If your Mac was manufactured pre-2012, this method might work for you actually.
First, you have to make sure the older Mac is visible, and the AirDrop window is open and ready to receive. On your newer Mac, go to Finder and click “AirDrop” in the sidebar. Tap “Don’t See Who You’re Looking for?” at the bottom of the window, and then press “Search for an Older Mac.”
Connect to the Same Wi-Fi Network
Apple explicitly says that both devices do not have to share the same Wi-Fi network for AirDrop to work. But, our own experience suggests that when devices share a network, then the results are much better. If possible, you need to connect both devices to the same network, and then try again.
Turn off “Block All Incoming Connections”
If you use the firewall that comes with macOS, then it might be blocking incoming connections, too. In order to prevent AirDrop transfers from failing, you should disable this setting. You do not have to stop using the firewall to do this actually.
Go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy, and then tap the “Firewall” tab. If the Firewall is set to “Off,” then you can move on to the next tip.
If the Firewall is on, then tap the lock in the bottom-left corner of the window, and then type your admin password (or use Touch ID, or your Apple Watch, if it is possible).
Next, tap “Firewall Options.” In the window that opens, make sure the checkbox next to “Block All of the Incoming Connections” is unchecked. Then tap“OK” to save your changes, and then try again.
Kill Bluetooth with a Terminal Command
If that doesn’t work, then you can try to kill your Mac’s Bluetooth service, Rather. This essentially forces the service to restart, and can potentially solve visibility and also transfer issues, too.
To do this, you have to open a new Terminal window, and then type (or paste):
sudo pkill blued
Tap Enter, type your admin password (or authorize through Touch ID or Apple Watch,) and then click Enter again. The service restarts immediately and kills any other Bluetooth connections that you have open. You should now try to use AirDrop again.
Solve AirDrop Problems on an iOS Device | airdrop not working
Because of the closed nature of the operating system, iOS devices don’t have really as many troubleshooting avenues open to them. Fortunately, there are some tips that have worked for us.
Just like macOS, iOS also receives regular updates. In order to give yourself the best chance at AirDrop’s success, make sure that you’re using the latest version of iOS. Go to Settings > General > Software Update and install any available updates.
Make Sure Your iOS Device Is Visible
You can also change your iOS device visibility in Control Center. In order to access Control Center on an iPhone 8 or earlier, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. If you have an iPhone X or later, then swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen.
Tap and hold the panel that contains the Airplane Mode and Wi-Fi symbols until a new panel appears. Click “AirDrop” to set the visibility. For best results, click “Everyone.”
If you choose the “Contacts Only” option, the person you share with also has to be in your Contacts app (or the Phone app under the Contacts tab). For best results, make sure the other party’s linked Apple ID appears in the relevant contact.
Since “Contacts Only” is temperamental, we recommend you to switch this option to “Everyone” for transfers. And then change to “Receiving Off” if you don’t want to be bombarded by strangers as well.
Make Sure Your iPhone Is Unlocked
Your iPhone needs to be awake to be visible to other AirDrop devices as well. AirDrop requests will appear as notifications on your lock screen whenever your device is locked. For best results, make sure your device is awake, unlocked, and also ready to receive.
Disable Do Not Disturb
If Do Not Disturb mode is turned on on your iOS device, you won’t be able to receive AirDrop requests. In order o disable Do Not Disturb mode, go to Settings > Do Not Disturb. You can also toggle the Do Not Disturb icon (it looks just like a moon) in Control Center.
Turn off Personal Hotspot
You cannot actually use AirDrop if you have a Personal Hotspot connected. To instantly disable Personal Hotspot, open Control Center. Click and hold the panel with the Wi-Fi symbol in it, and then toggle-Off “Personal Hotspot.”
Kill Bluetooth and Wi-Fi with Airplane Mode
A favorite tip is to kill all your device’s radios with your Airplane Mode. Toggling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth isn’t enough because, when you disable Wi-Fi in Control Center, then it only disconnects you from the current network. In order to reset all services, open Control Center, enable Airplane Mode, and then wait about 10 seconds. Disable Airplane Mode and then try again.
Keep in mind that Airplane Mode saves your last-known configuration. If you turn on Airplane Mode, and then manually re-enable Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, the Airplane Mode will remember this next time. Make sure you turn off both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi before you try this tip.
Restart Your iOS Device
When in doubt, turn it off and then back on. This will likely solve your AirDrop issues (at least temporarily), although it’s not always the most convenient option actually.
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