Back when Apple announced the latest version of its OS X operating system, 10.7 ‘Lion’, back in October of last year, one of the many key new features was AirDrop, adding to the ever growing list of ‘Air-’ products that define Apple’s wireless product range.
The purpose of AirDrop, is to offer the user the ability to transfer files wirelessly over their home network, between Macs. Read on for a little look at how it works and how you can use it.
The AirDrop Feature in Macs
How Does It Work?
AirDrop is embedded into the standard Finder in OS X 10.7, and you’ll find it by default in the left hand sidebar alongside your documents folder and another new feature, ‘All My Files’, as well as others.
To transfer the files between Macs, OS X instantly creates an ad-hoc network, via its slightly older Bonjour networking protocol, between the two machines and transfers the file that way, rather than using P2P or some other cloud-based service à la Dropbox or something along those more familiar lines.
For Old Macs
Unfortunately, AirDrop is only enabled by default in the following models of Macintosh:
- MacBook Pro (Late 2008 or newer)
- MacBook Pro (17-Inch Late 2008) and the white MacBook (Late 2008) do not support AirDrop.
- MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
- MacBook (Late 2008 or newer)*
- iMac (Early 2009 or newer)
- Mac Mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
- Mac Pro (Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card, or Mid 2010)
There is a way to enable AirDrop in other Macs, though. Firstly, obviously load Terminal and enter the following script, minus the quotation marks:
“defaults write com.apple.NetworkBrowser BrowseAllInterfaces 1″
Next, you just have to restart finder, so enter:
“killall Finder” (case-sensitive)
Then, head into Finder and it should be there in your sidebar as per the following guide.
How-To Use AirDrop
Using AirDrop is extremely simple. In fact there are just a few steps between starting with your file and it ending up copied onto the receiving machine. Firstly, simply bring up the Finder window and click it in the left pane to bring up the Airdrop interface as shown below.
Then, do the same on the other machine that you want to receive the files and you’ll find that it shows up above the sending machine, labelled as whatever the machine is named us under the sharing pane in system preferences.
Next, simply drag the file or folder that you want to send across onto the icon of the machine you want to receive the file, and you’ll be confronted with a confirmation prompt on the sending Mac, as well as a prompt asking if you if you want to accept the file and where you want to save it on the receiving Mac, as shown in the below screenshots here. By default, the file will be sent to the Downloads folder.
Once you’ve decided where to save the file on the receiving Mac, and done so, you’ll see this (below) and once the progress bar hits the end, you’re done and the file has been transferred successfully.
One of the most major gripes that not just I, but a lot of voices on the Internet have been shouting about, is that AirDrop wasn’t introduced to iOS 5. It seemed a bizarre move, or lack thereof, considering that it would make it a lot easier to share files to your iPad or iPhone for example, without having to do a full sync.
Having said that, it is a useful feature of the operating system, though I’d still prefer to use a service such as Dropbox to keep my files in sync on both Macs rather than just send single files across using AirDrop.