As the main way to transfer files among Apple users, AirDrop not working on iPhone, iPad, or Mac is frustrating. Fortunately, most AirDrop issues are easy to fix. Below are different ways to get your AirDrop working again in no time!
- Check AirDrop requirements
- Unlock your device
- Enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Turn off personal hotspot on iPhone or iPad
- Bring devices closer to each other
- Send different file types separately
- Turn off Airplane Mode on iPhone or iPad
- Turn off DND or Focus Mode
- Check AirDrop Visibility Settings
- Check Privacy Restrictions
- Sign In to your Apple Account
- Check the Downloads Folder
- Turn off VPN
- Update your OS
- Turn off your Mac’s firewall
- Reset your devices
- Reset Network Settings
1. Check AirDrop requirements
Before anything else, it’s essential to ensure your device supports AirDrop. At the time of writing, you can use AirDrop with the following:
- iPhone (iPhone 5 or newer)
- iPod Touch (5th generation or newer)
- iPad mini
- iPad (fourth generation or newer)
- Mac (manufactured in 2012 or later)
The device must be running iOS 7 or OS X Yosemite or later.
2. Unlock your device
If you’re trying to send a file via AirDrop, ensure the target iPhone or iPad is unlocked and awake. Your device won’t be able to detect the target device if it isn’t awake.
Similarly, make sure that your Mac’s display is turned on. Don’t put your Mac to sleep while in the process of sending or receiving files via AirDrop.
3. Enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Make sure that both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled on both devices. Don’t worry. Your device doesn’t have to be connected to the internet — you simply have to turn these on.
- On your iPhone or iPad: Access the Control Center → Tap the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icons to enable them (the icons should turn blue).
- On your Mac: Click the Control Center icon in the menu bar → Click the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi icons to enable them (the icons should turn blue).
4. Turn off personal hotspot on iPhone or iPad
Both hotspots and AirDrop utilize your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. That said, you won’t be able to use AirDrop if you’re hosting a personal hotspot on your iPhone.
The only way to make AirDrop work is to turn off your hotspot temporarily.
5. Bring devices closer to each other
The performance of AirDrop can be affected by physical barriers, including distance and interference. Ensure that both devices are within close proximity (at least 30 feet) and that there are no physical obstacles like concrete walls separating the two devices.
6. Send different file types separately
If there’s no issue initiating file transfers with AirDrop, but it takes too long to finish sending or find it stuck, you may want to try sending files one at a time instead of in bulk.
Aside from this, the target device might encounter a “Cannot receive all of these items at the same time” error. Most often than not, this happens when you try sending multiple files not of the same type.
This likely occurs because the device attempts to open each received file in its default application and struggles to do so simultaneously for varied applications. That said, use AirDrop to send the same file types instead of sending everything in one go.
7. Turn off Airplane Mode on iPhone or iPad
When enabled, Airplane mode shuts down all your wireless connections, including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Disable Airplane mode on your iPhone or iPad by going to Settings → toggle Airplane Mode off.
8. Turn off DND or Focus Mode
While you can still send files to others via AirDrop while on a particular Focus mode, the opposite is true regarding receiving AirDrop transfers.
This is because enabling Do Not Disturb and other Focus blocks AirDrop alerts and notifications and renders devices undiscoverable.
9. Check AirDrop Visibility Settings
AirDrop has three settings:
- No One/Receiving Off: Prevents everyone from discovering your device.
- Contacts Only: Allows only people with mobile numbers or email addresses saved in your contacts to send you files.
- Everyone/Everyone for 10 minutes: Allows everyone to discover your device and send files.
While the Contacts Only option tightens your device’s security, it prevents people who aren’t saved in your Contact from sending you files. Meanwhile, when you’re on the receiving end on Contacts Only, Apple requires that both devices are signed in on their iCloud accounts.
10. Check Privacy Restrictions
If you couldn’t find the AirDrop icon at all, you or someone else might have blocked it using your device’s Restrictions feature.
On iPhone or iPad:
- Open Settings → Screen Time.
- Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.
- Select Allowed Apps. Make sure that AirDrop is enabled.
On your Mac:
- Open System Settings → Screen Time.
- Click Content & Privacy.
- Select App Restrictions.
- Toggle AirDrop on and Select Done.
11. Sign In to your Apple Account
Signing out and signing back in on your Apple ID can get your AirDrop to work again.
- On your iPhone or iPad: Go to Settings → tap your account, and choose Sign Out.
- On your Mac: Go to System Settings → select your account and Sign Out.
12. Check the Downloads Folder
If you received a file on your device via AirDrop and you can’t find it, don’t immediately assume that your AirDrop is malfunctioning. Try to check your Downloads folder.
- On iPhone, open the Files app and look for a Downloads folder.
- Meanwhile, you can usually find the Downloads folder on your Mac on your Dock. Otherwise, open a new Finder window and press Option + Cmd + L.
13. Turn off VPN
Some users reported that their AirDrop didn’t work until they turned off their VPN. If you’re using a third-party VPN app, turn it off. Here’s how to disable VPN on your device’s settings.
- On your iPhone or iPad: Go to Settings, go to General → VPN & Device Management.
- On your Mac: Go to System Settings → click Network on the sidebar → select VPN. If you can’t see it, click the More dropdown menu and select VPN Configuration.
14. Update your OS
Make sure to keep your device/s running on the latest OS. Beta OS versions are also notorious for their glitches and bugs. So, if you’re using a beta version, revert to the older, most stable OS for your iPhone or Mac; this might be the reason behind your AirDrop not working after an update.
15. Turn off your Mac firewall
If you’re trying to AirDrop files to a Mac but can’t detect it from your device, the Mac owner should check their firewall settings and prevent it from blocking all sharing services, like AirDrop, File Sharing, Screen Sharing, and receiving any other incoming connections.
- Go to System Settings.
- Select Network → Click Firewall.
- Toggle Firewall off.
16. Reset your devices
A hard reset is often all you need to flush out all the bugs and glitches affecting your device’s functionalities.
- Force restarting your iPhone or iPad depends on its model.
- For your Mac, just go to the Apple menu → Restart.
17. Reset Network Settings
Resetting your Network Settings can help fix all network and connectivity issues, such as Wi-Fi and AirDrop problems. Note that resetting these settings will also cause your device to forget your saved passwords, requiring you to reconnect and enter their passwords again.
On your iPhone or iPad:
- Go to Settings → General.
- Select Transfer or Reset [device] → Tap Reset
- Tap Reset Network Settings and Enter your passcode.
Sadly, Macs don’t have a dedicated button for resetting your Network Settings.
AirDrop acting up is often just a temporary issue. Which one did the trick for you? Share them below. If none of the above tips didn’t help troubleshoot your AirDrop issue, it might be your best option to seek help from Apple Support.
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