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Thursday, October 10, 2019

AirDrop Not Working? Here’s How to Fix It

A hand holding an iPhone with the AirDrop settings menu open.
Aleksey Khilko/Shutterstock

AirDrop lets you send files, photos, and other data between iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Like all wireless tech, though, AirDrop can be temperamental. And getting devices to “see” each other can sometimes be a challenge. Here’s how to troubleshoot common AirDrop problems.

What Is AirDrop?

AirDrop is Apple’s proprietary method of sending files or data locally between two devices. The devices initially connect over Bluetooth, with Wi-Fi doing much of the heavy lifting when it comes to file transfers.

The feature was first introduced on Macs in 2008. 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, you’re more likely to experience issues. Visibility issues are the most common problem people have with AirDrop—sometimes, the recipient doesn’t show up, no matter how hard you try.

This is one of the reasons Apple introduced the new U1 chip with ultra-wideband technology for the iPhone 11. The U1 is designed to improve device discoverability and eliminate the issues that have plagued AirDrop for years. It will be a while before the majority of people have such a chip in their device, though. For now, we’re 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 platform. If you want to use AirDrop between an iPhone or iPad, and a Mac, be sure to check out both sections for relevant tips.

Can My Mac or iOS Device Use AirDrop?

AirDrop is compatible with the following Mac computers:

  • MacBook Pro (late 2008 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (late 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook (late 2008 or newer)
  • iMac (early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac mini (mid-2010 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (early 2009 with AirPort Extreme or newer)

AirDrop is compatible with iOS devices that:

  • Run iOS 7 or later
  • Have a Lightning port

Despite this extensive compatibility, the older your device, the more likely you are to have issues with AirDrop.

Troubleshooting AirDrop on a Mac

There are 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 you can adjust, and the ability to delete files from system folders.

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