AirDrop not working on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac? Here’s how to fix it

AirDrop not working on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac

AirDrop is one of the highlights of the Apple ecosystem as it makes sharing photos, videos, and files among macOS and iOS devices effortless. The process is fast, secure, and preserves the original quality. However, things become frustrating when AirDrop is not working on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

Do not worry; I have some sure-shot fixes!

Why is my AirDrop not working?

Sometimes we accidentally change some settings that might affect AirDrop’s functionality. So, before we move on to troubleshooting, let’s check AirDrop prerequisites and rule out these problems first.

  1. Unlock the receiver’s device
    For AirDrop to work, the iPhone, iPad, and Mac should be unlocked and awake. Plus, ensure that both devices are within 30 feet (9 meters) of each other.
  2. Turn off Personal Hotspot
    AirDrop and Wi-Fi are disabled when Personal Hotspot is turned on. So, turn the setting off before proceeding.
  3. Incompatible Device
    • iOS Devices: iPhone 5, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 4th generation, iPad mini, and later running iOS 7
    • Macs: All Macs introduced in 2012 or later running OS X Yosemite or later have the AirDrop feature. However, certain Macs launched before 2012 support AirDrop too. Check out the complete list.
  1. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is off
    Make sure that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on both devices are turned on and within range.

    On iPhone and iPad: Call upon the Control Center and ensure that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icons are blue. If not, tap the icons to enable them. You can also go to Settings → Tap Wi-Fi  Toggle it on → tap Bluetooth, and toggle it on.

    Check if Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are enabled on iPhone and iPad
    On Mac: Click the Wi-Fi icon at the top menu bar and turn it on. Also, click the Bluetooth icon and enable it.

    Check if Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are enabled on Mac

💭 Special Tip – Though AirDrop works even when devices are connected to different Wi-Fi networks, connecting to the same network helps, especially when sharing between iOS and Mac.

AirDrop still not working? Let’s fix it!

  1. Ensure that your device is discoverable
  2. Restart Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  3. Turn off AirDrop restrictions
  4. Turn off VPN and DND
  5. Restart your device
  6. Update the software
  7. Reset network settings on iPhone and iPad
  8. Reset Bluetooth and Wi-Fi module on Mac
  9. Change Firewall settings on Mac
  10. AirDrop problems with older Macs

1. Ensure that your device is discoverable

After the basic check, it is essential to ensure that AirDrop on both sender’s and receiver’s devices is discoverable to other devices. Here’s how.

On iPhone or iPad:

  1. Bring up Control Center and long-press the four-icon platter; it will expand.
  2. Now, tap AirDrop and choose Everyone.
Allow AirDrop for Everyone in Control Center on iPhone

💭 Special Tip – You may also open the Settings app → General → AirDrop → Everyone.

On Mac:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. From the top of the left sidebar, click AirDrop.
  3. Click ‘Allow me to be discovered by:‘ and choose Everyone.
Allow AirDrop for Everyone in Finder on Mac

 If you are on macOS Big Sur or later, you can use the Control Center to modify AirDrop visibility and more.

💭 Special Tip – Try to play with AirDrop’s visibility option. That is, switch to Receiving Off, and after 10 seconds, change it back to Everyone.

2. Restart Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

At times, simple actions like disabling and re-enabling Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth do the trick.

On iPhone and iPad: Open Settings → tap Wi-Fi, toggle it off.

turn off wi-fi network on iphone

Repeat the same steps for Bluetooth. After 30 seconds, switch on the respective options again.

Turn Off Bluetooth from iPhone Settings

On Mac: Click the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icons in the top menu bar and turn them off. After 30 seconds, turn them back on.

3. Turn off AirDrop restrictions

If you can’t find the AirDrop icon, chances are the app has been blocked via Screen Time. Let’s get AirDrop back and running again.

On iPhone and iPad:

  1. Launch Settings → Screen Time → Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  2. Tap Allowed Apps and enter your Screen Time Password.
  3. Toggle on AirDrop.
Turn off AirDrop restrictions on iPhone and iPad

On Mac:

  1. Click the Apple logo and select System Preferences.
  2. Select Screen Time and then Content & Privacy from the sidebar.
  3. Go to the Apps tab and check the box next to AirDrop; enter Screen Time Password to confirm.
Turn off AirDrop restrictions on Mac

4. Turn off VPN and DND

VPN affects the network settings, while DND can tweak what you receive. So, even when they are not directly related to AirDrop, the duo can hinder its proper functioning.

So, disable the VPN, turn off Do Not Disturb mode, and test AirDrop. If it’s still not working, move on to the next step.

5. Restart your device

Restart has quite a reputation at iGeeksBlog; when nothing goes your way, restart your device. This is particularly helpful if I have trouble sharing files from iPhone to Mac and vice versa.

To learn how to restart your iPhone, follow our guide to restart any iPhone or iPad model.

For Mac, click the Apple logo at the top left and select Restart.

6. Update the software

The culprit behind your AirDrop not working could be a bug in the software. And to fix such issues, you must update to the latest version of the operating system on your iPhone and Mac.

On Phone and iPad: Open SettingsGeneralSoftware Update Download and Install, if available.

On Mac: Open System Preferences → Software Update → Update Now, if available.

iOS Beta issue: The chances of a bug hindering your AirDrop in a beta version are pretty high. If none of the steps work for you, consider downgrading to iOS 14.

7. Reset network settings on iPhone and iPad

A complete network reset could help you resolve the issue. However, these steps will restore all saved Wi-Fi credentials, Bluetooth devices, VPN configurations, and other network data to default. So, proceed with caution.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap General → Reset.
  3. Tap Reset Network Settings. Enter the device passcode and confirm.

8. Reset Bluetooth and Wi-Fi module on Mac

When you reset the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi module, it goes back to factory settings. In the process, we get rid of any file or setting that has been corrupted.

Note: This method will clear all settings, and you’ll have to reconnect with Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth devices again.

To reset the Bluetooth module

  1. Hold Shift + Option and click the Bluetooth icon.
  2. Select Reset the Bluetooth module.
    If you’re using macOS Catalina, click Debug and reset the Bluetooth module.
  3. Click OK and restart your Mac.
Reset Mac’s Bluetooth module

To reset Wi-Fi settings:

  1. Turn off Wi-Fi and open Finder
  2. Hit command+shift+G and enter /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/.
  3. Select following files from the listing
    • com.apple.airport.preferences.plist
    • com.apple.network.identification.plist or com.apple.network.eapolclient/configuration.plist
    • com.apple.wifi.message-tracer.plist
    • NetworkInterfaces.plist
    • preferences.plist
  4. Make a copy of them for safekeeping.
  5. Delete the files and restart the Mac.
Reset Wi-Fi settings on Mac

All these files will be recreated when you restart and turn on the Wi-Fi. If your Wi-Fi starts acting up, paste the copied files again. If all is smooth, delete the copies.

9. Change Firewall settings on Mac

If your Mac is at constant war with AirDrop, the culprit might be the macOS firewall restrictions. Usually, the setting blocks communication from unknown machines, and at times that may include AirDrop connections.

  1. Click the Apple icon and open System Preferences.
  2. Select Security & Privacy and the Firewall tab.
  3. If the Firewall is on, click the padlock below to change its settings.
  4. Click Firewall Options.
  5. Uncheck the box next to Block all incoming connections and hit OK.
Change Firewall options on Mac
Change Firewall settings on Mac

10. AirDrop problems with older Macs

Well, if you are using a Mac launched before 2012 running on macOS Mojave or earlier, open System PreferencesAirDrop → click Don’t see who you’re looking for? → Click Search for an Older Mac.

Please note, if you are on macOS Catalina or later, this option is no longer available.

That’s it!

These were the tested solutions to fix the AirDrop issue on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. I hope one of the solutions here fixed the problem for you.

If none of these fixes helped resolve the issue, it might be a hardware problem. You should contact Apple Support to get a resolution.

For several people and organizations (like ours), AirDrop is one of the essential tools. We use it daily to share article screenshots, office celebration videos, and more. How often do you use it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Is your iPhone acting up? Here are some troubleshooting guides that might help you out:

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