How to AirDrop a file from your iPhone or iPad to a Mac computer

  • AirDrop lets you quickly share and receive photos, videos, and more from other Apple devices nearby.
  • Before you use AirDrop, turn on sharing permissions in Finder on Mac and in Settings on iPhone or iPad.
  • Apple devices need to be in range of each other — about 30 feet — for AirDrop to work.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Today it’s easier than ever to share files and photos across devices. With Apple devices, you can use AirDrop to send files – even ones too big for email – from an iPhone to a Mac or iPad with just a tap, as long as they are in range. 

What’s in range? AirDrop uses a combination of both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to transmit files, so your iPhone, iPad, or Mac have to be within about 30 feet of each other. 

Here’s everything you need to know about AirDrop and how to use it. 

How to turn on AirDrop

To successfully AirDrop, you’ll need to turn on AirDrop on Mac — you only need to do that once — and then you can send files from your iPhone quickly and easily.

On Mac

  1. Open Finder and at the top-left of the side-panel, click “AirDrop.” With Finder open, you can also click “Go” in the taskbar at the very top of your screen, then click “AirDrop” in the drop-down menu.
    Click “AirDrop” on the left side.Grace Eliza Goodwin/Insider
  2. If your Mac’s Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is turned off, you will be asked to turn them on.
  3. In the AirDrop window, choose who can AirDrop to you. Click “Allow me to be discovered by” and choose either “Contacts Only” or “Everyone.” 
    On the AirDrop page, click “Allow me to be discovered by,” then select “Everyone” or “Contacts Only.”Grace Eliza Goodwin/Insider

On iPhone and iPad

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap “General.”
    Go to “General.”Grace Eliza Goodwin/Insider
  3. On the General page, select “AirDrop.”
    Tap “AirDrop.”Grace Eliza Goodwin/Insider
  4. On the AirDrop page, choose who you want to be discoverable to by selecting  “Contacts Only,” or “Everyone.”
    To turn on AirDrop, choose “Contacts Only” or “Everyone.”Grace Eliza Goodwin/Insider

Limiting AirDrop only to your contacts is more secure, but choosing “everyone” is more convenient if you frequently have to receive files from a lot of different people.

If you choose “everyone,” be aware that if you’re working in a public place, anyone in your vicinity will be able to send you files, so be careful who you accept AirDrop files from.

How to use AirDrop 

Once AirDrop is turned on for your iPhone or iPad and Mac, you can then go ahead and AirDrop the file. 

AirDrop from iPhone or iPad

  1. On your iPhone, open the app that you want to AirDrop from. To send a photo, for example, open Photos.
  2. Select the file or photo you want to send (you can select more than one at a time).
  3. Tap the “Share” button, which looks like a box with an arrow pointing out of it, and then tap the AirDrop icon, which should appear first in the list of app icons. 
    Tap the “AirDrop” icon.Grace Eliza Goodwin/Insider
  4. On the AirDrop screen, you should see icons for all of the AirDrop-compatible devices in range (it might take a moment for them to appear). Tap the icon for the Mac you want to send the file to. The icon will say “Sent” when it’s done sending the files.
    Select the Mac you want to send the file to — all available devices will appear on this page.Grace Eliza Goodwin/Insider

Receive AirDrop on Mac

  1. You should see a notification appear on your desktop or device’s screen. Choose “Accept” or, if it’s a photo, you can also choose “Open in Photos.”
    Select “Accept” or “Open in Photos.”Grace Eliza Goodwin/Insider
  2. If you choose “Accept,” the file will appear in your Downloads folder. If you choose “Open in Photos,” the file will be opened in the Photos app.

Troubleshooting 

Like any technology, sometimes AirDrop won’t work. If you’re having trouble with AirDrop, there are a few common things to check:

  • Is your Mac AirDrop-compatible? It needs to be running Mac OS X Yosemite or later.
  • Make sure that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled on both your Mac and your iPhone.
  • It’s possible the devices are too far apart, especially if you can’t see the Mac on the iPhone’s AirDrop list. Bring the two devices closer together.
  • Make sure that the iPhone isn’t connecting to the internet via a personal hotspot. Open Settings and make sure Personal Hotspot is “Off.”

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