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How to AirDrop on iPhone

by on September 14, 2021
in Tips & How-Tos, Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps, Tech 101 :: 0 comments

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AirDrop is the fastest, easiest way to share photos (and other content) with other nearby iPhone, iPad, or Mac users if you use an iPhone. With just a few taps, you can send photos to one person or a whole group of people much faster than using email or text.

AirDrop is built into Apple's iOS and uses Bluetooth and WiFi to transmit content – photos, videos, contacts, links, and documents – to nearby Apple devices with a single tap. There's no limit on file size and no app to install; it's a share option you'll find in Photos, Safari, Contacts, and other apps. Here's how to use AirDrop on your iPhone.

1. Turn on Bluetooth and WiFi

Since AirDrop works using both Bluetooth and WiFi, make sure they are both turned on. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to access your Control Center by swiping down from the top right corner of your phone's screen (or swipe up from the bottom if your phone has a Home button). If WiFi and Bluetooth in the communication widget are on, the icons will both be blue. If either is gray tap it to turn it on.

Two screenshots of the iOS Control Center. The screenshot on the left shows the communications widget on the left with the WiFi and Bluetooth icons with a white backgoungs. The screenshot on the right show the communications widget on the left with the WiFi and Bluetooth icons with a blue background.

2. Enable AirDrop

In the same Control Center box you checked to make Bluetooth and WiFi are turned on, long-press anywhere in the communication widget until a screen with more options comes up.

Tap the button to turn on AirDrop and you'll see three options: 

  • Receiving Off: You won't receive AirDrop requests. 
  • Contacts Only: Only your contacts can see your device.
  • Everyone: All nearby Apple devices using AirDrop can see your device.

I recommend that you set AirDrop to "Everyone" unless you're sure that the people you will be sharing with are in your Contacts app.

Three screenshots of iOS Control Center. From the left, the first screen shows the whole selection of Control Center options with the communications options widget in the upper right. The communications widget shows from the upper left: an airplane, a cellular beacon, a wifi signal and a Bluetooth. The second screenshot shows an expanded communications widget which adds an AirDrop icon and personal hotspot icon in a third row. In the third screenshow, you see the AirDrop options of Receiving Off (with a check mark), Contacts Only, and Everyone.

3. Make sure your friend's AirDrop, Bluetooth and WiFi are turned on

Next, you need to check that the person you are sharing with also has Bluetooth and WiFi turned on and their AirDrop set to receive. I recommend that you have them set AirDrop to “Everyone.”

4. Select the content that you want to share

AirDrop is a sharing option whenever you see the Share icon (a rectangle with an arrow pointing up). You'll also find it in some apps, like Contacts, under a specific share menu option. Here are three of the most common share scenarios.

Photos and Videos

From Photos Library, tap on "Select" and mark all of the photos and videos you want to share. You can also selection the share icon from the bottom navigation bar when viewing individual photos and videos in the Photos app.

Web pages

In Safari and other browser apps, select the share icon from the bottom navigation bar


In Contacts, open the contact and scroll down and select "Share Contact."


If you save your passwords to iCloud Keychain, you can go into Settings > Passwords, select the account you want to share and tap the share icon.

5. From the sharing options, select AirDrop

Two screenshots of AirDrop from Photos app. First screenshot from the left shows picture of dogs with a menu bar at the bottom with the share icon (rectangle with arrow coming out the top), a heart and a trash can. The second screenshot shows the dog photo with a check mark in a blue circle, a row of initials with Messages icons next to them, and a bottom row with the AirDrop icon, Messages icon, Gmail icon, and Drive icon.

6. Select the person or people with whom you want to share

When you select AirDrop, you'll see the names of nearby iPhone users pop up on your screen. If they're in your contacts, you'll also see their picture.

If you have an iPhone 11 or later and the person you want to share with also has an iPhone 11 or later, you’ll have to point your iPhone in the direction of their iPhone to select the name.

Two screenshots of AirDrop. In the first screenshot you see a circle with Raise iPhone above three circles, two with photos and one with the initials MK. In the second screenshot, you see the initials MK in the big circle with Tap to Share below and the same three little circles below.

7. Have the recipient/s accept the content

Your recipient/s will see a notification on their screen with the option to accept the content or decline it. When the person accepts, the content starts transferring. Even for large files and multiple photos and videos, the process is a matter of seconds.

Screenshot of AirDrop with a picture of a dog with blanked out name would like to share a photo. Below the photo are Decline and Accept buttons.

8. Turn off AirDrop

In the Control Center, long-press on the communications widget, and a screen with options will come up. Tap the AirDrop button. Select "Receiving Off."

I recommend keeping your AirDrop set to "Receiving Off" because there have been security warnings about hackers being able to access data on your phone if you have your AirDrop set to Everyone. You also open yourself up to what's called "cyber-flashing," receiving unsolicited pictures from nearby strangers. Since it's so easy to turn AirDrop on and off, I recommend keeping yours set to "Receiving Off."

[Image credit: Techlicious]

Andrea Smith is an award-winning technology broadcast journalist, reporter, and producer. Andrea was the Technology Producer and an on-air Technology contributor at ABC News for over two decades before becoming the Lifestyle Channel Editor at Mashable, where she explored the ways in which real people, not just geeks, began using technology in their everyday lives.

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