How to Use AirDrop on Your iPhone

Learn how to AirDrop from your iPhone to your Mac or other devices

Use Apple AirDrop to share photos, documents, and other files wirelessly with other nearby AirDrop users on their Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices. AirDrop is a convenient and proprietary file-transfer method.

After you enable AirDrop on your iPhone, you can send and receive files from other AirDrop-enabled Apple devices around you. The service works over Bluetooth, so senders and receivers must be near one another — within 30 feet and preferably closer.

Instructions in this article apply to iPhones with iOS 12 and iOS 11. An alternate method to enable AirDrop on older phones with iOS 7 or later is included.

Which Apps Support AirDrop?

Many of the preinstalled apps that come with the iOS work with AirDrop, including Photos, Notes, Safari, Contacts, and Maps. You can share photos, videos, websites, address book entries, text files, and more.

Some third-party apps support AirDrop. However, it's up to developers to include AirDrop support in their apps, so not everything you download from the App Store works with AirDrop.

AirDrop Requirements

Here are the requirements to share between a Mac and an Apple mobile device:

  • An iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad with iOS 7 or later.
  • A Mac from 2012 with OS X Yosemite (10.0) or higher, except for the mid-2012 Mac Pro, which isn't compatible.
  • Another iOS or Mac user with an AirDrop-compatible device.
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on on both the sender and recipient devices.

When you share files between two Mac computers, both computers may be older than 2012, but they must be running OS X Yosemite or later.

Enable AirDrop on Your iPhone

To use AirDrop, enable the feature either in the Settings app or in the Control Center.

Enable AirDrop in the Control Center

  1. Open Control Center on the iPhone. Go to the upper-right corner of the screen and swipe down.

  2. Press and hold the section that displays the airplane mode, wireless, cellular, and Bluetooth icons to expand the section.

  3. Tap AirDrop to turn it on.

  4. Select one of the three options on the screen that opens: Receiving Off, Contacts Only, or Everyone.

    Control Center, AirDrop icon, Contacts Only option
  • Receiving Off — disables your phone from receiving AirDrop requests, so nearby devices cannot see your phone when they attempt to share files. However, you can send files to others.
  • Contacts Only — restricts AirDrop to only people in your address book. This provides the most privacy but also limits the number of people who can share files with you.
  • Everyone lets everyone around you share files with you over AirDrop. 

Enable AirDrop in Settings

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Tap General.

  3. Tap AirDrop.

  4. Choose a setting from three options: Receiving Off, Contacts Only, and Everyone.

    General, AirDrop, Everyone options in iOS Settings

Enable AirDrop on Older Phones

If you have an older iPhone, you can turn on AirDrop as long as your iPhone has iOS 7 or later. 

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open Control Center in older versions of iOS.

  2. Tap the AirDrop icon. It is usually the middle, next to the AirPlay Mirroring button.

  3. Choose one of the three categories of AirDrop options.

How to Share Over AirDrop

To send a file to someone:

  1. Open the app that has the content you want to share. For example, open the Photos app to share pictures or videos saved on the phone.

  2. Tap the file you want to share over AirDrop to open it in a new window.

    If the app supports it, AirDrop can share multiple files at once. For example, to select multiple images or videos in the Photos app, opening an album, tap Select, then tap each image you want to send.

  3. Tap the action icon (it looks like a rectangle with an arrow coming out of it).

  4. In the Tap to share with AirDrop section, tap the device or person's name you want to share the file with. Icons of nearby AirDrop-enabled devices that are available to receive files are displayed.

    Image selection, Share button, AirDrop icons

After you send the content over AirDrop, wait for the other user to accept or decline the transfer. A Waiting message displays as the file is sending, a Sending message displays during the transfer, and a Sent message appears after the file is accepted and delivered. If the other user declines your AirDrop request, a red Declined message appears instead.

How to Accept or Decline an AirDrop Transfer

When someone sends you data over AirDrop, a window displays on your phone screen with a preview of the content. You have two options: Accept or Decline.

If you tap Accept, the file is saved to your device and opened in the appropriate app. For example, accepting a transfer of images over AirDrop saves the photos to your phone and opens the images in the Photos app, URLs launch in the Safari browser, and so on.

If you tap Decline, the transfer is canceled, and the other user is notified that you declined the request.

If you share a file with a device that's logged in with the same Apple ID you're logged in with, that device is not shown the Accept or Decline message. Since both devices are assumed to be yours, the transfer is accepted automatically.

AirDrop Troubleshooting

If AirDrop doesn't work, it may not be enabled in Settings or the Control Center, or that sharing is set to Contacts Only and the person who's trying to send you a file is not in your address book.

However, if you checked those settings, and so has the other user, but AirDrop still doesn't work, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth  AirDrop requires both you and the other person to have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled.
  • Disable Your Personal Hotspot — If you use a personal hotspot while using AirDrop, disable it. AirDrop doesn't work simultaneously with hotspots.
  • Move Closer — AirDrop is based on Bluetooth, so it has Bluetooth's range limitations. Move within 30 feet (and preferably closer) of the person with whom you're sharing files.