AirDrop allows you to wirelessly transfer all types of files between your iOS and Mac OS devices. It is a secure and fast way to get your files and data transferred from one Apple device to the other quickly. But, what if, the AirDrop is not working on Mac or iPhone, as expected. This can be because of compatibility issues or glitches with your device, that can be solved by tweaking the settings.
You should not give up on using AirDrop because of some glitches, instead, go through the simple solutions mentioned below to solve it. AirDrop is too good to be ignored due to the convenience it gives in sharing files. Before we look at the solutions, let’s see what the AirDrop is and what are the basic system requirements to use AirDrop.
What is AirDrop?
The airDrop was introduced in Mac OS X Lion and iOS 7 to transfer the data wirelessly without using cables, cloud, or mass storage devices. To use AirDrop, you need to switch on Bluetooth and WiFi on both devices.
The devices need not be connected to the same WiFi connection to send the data. All you need is both the device should be in the range of 30 feet for uninterrupted file transfer.
Whenever you use AirDrop, there are 3 options available for discovering your device.
- Off – Your device is not discoverable to other devices, but you can still transfer files to others.
- Contacts Only – Only your contact list can see your device, and both the device should be signed in to the iCloud. If you wish to maintain privacy and stop annoying requests from unknown sources, you can select the Contacts Only option. It is a good option when you are using AirDrop in public places like cafes or trains stations.
- Everyone – Your device is discoverable by all nearby AirDrop users. The users who can see your device can send you a request to share files.
You can choose the appropriate option based on your needs. One more added advantage of using AirDrop is, there are no restrictions on the file size. All types of files, whether large or small, are encrypted while they travel to your destination device, which makes it a super secure way to share files.
System Requirements for AirDrop
The system requirements are vital when it comes to using any specific application. If your AirDrop is not working on a Mac or iOS device, then check your current iOS and Mac OS version. If the versions are compatible with AirDrop as mentioned below and still you face problems while using AirDrop, then you can move on to the solutions section.
1. To transfer a file between two Mac devices, you need Mac OS X Lion, that is, 10.7, or later.
2. To transfer a file between a Mac and iOS device, you need iOS 8 or later and Mac OS X Yosemite (10.10) or later.
3. Lastly, to transfer a file between two iOS devices, which is the most frequently used transfer, you need iPhones running iOS 7 or later.
When AirDrop was introduced, the AirDrop protocol was different for Mac OS and iOS; hence, the transfer was not possible between a Mac and iOS device. When Apple launched Mac OS X Yosemite, it provided the support for iOS AirDrop protocol; hence, then onwards, it became possible to transfer files and data between iOS and Mac OS.
25 Solutions for AirDrop Not Working on iOS and Mac devices
If you are not able to see any particular device or send and receive files on your iOS or Mac device, then there might be some settings on your iPhone which you need to change. You also need to check some other aspects related to AirDrop not working on Mac and iPhone.
1. Change AirDrop’s Discoverability Settings
As mentioned in the earlier section, AirDrop has 3 options for your device discovery. If you have Contacts only selected, then you can change it to Everyone. Once you change it to Everyone, try reconnecting to the device you were trying to connect before.
If, after changing the device discoverability on AirDrop, you could connect to other devices, then you need to check the contact information about the person whose device you were trying to connect.
You cannot connect the other iOS device if the contact information of the person who owns the device is not correctly saved. This generally is very effective if the devices are a few generations apart.
2. Is your Device in the Range?
AirDrop uses Bluetooth connectivity to transfer files wirelessly, so it is important to keep both the Apple devices close to each other. Bluetooth connectivity is also hampered because of any physical barriers like walls.
Hence, the closer two devices are to each other, the faster is the file transfer. The distance of more than 9 meters between two devices can cause AirDrop not working problems.
3. Keep the Screen On
AirDrop may also fail to transfer files if your iOS screen turns off or sleeps in between the transfer. If you face issues on your iPhone where AirDrop is not working, then you need to check whether the screen is awake while the transfer takes place.
You get notified to accept the request for file transfer waking up your screen. If you miss this notification, the transfer may fail. This is not the case in your Mac; you can receive the files even when the screen is in sleep mode.
However, you may not receive the file if your Mac enters sleep mode. You can prevent Mac from entering the sleep mode by making the change in the sleep mode settings.
Go to Energy Saver settings and click on the checkbox next to Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off.
This setting change is helpful when you want to transfer the large file, and you are not around your Macbook.
4. Restart Bluetooth & WiFi on iPhone and Mac
If the AirDrop on iPhone to Mac is still not working, then you can try restarting your Bluetooth and WiFi. Sometimes, this simple trick can make your AirDrop function well. For your iPhone, go to the Control Center and disable Bluetooth and WiFi. After some time, enable WiFi and Bluetooth again.
You also need to disable and then enable WiFi and Bluetooth on your Mac system. You can do so by clicking on the WiFi and Bluetooth icon in the upper right corner of the Mac machine.
5. Turn Off your Personal Hotspot if Airdrop is not working
AirDrop cannot work if the personal hotspot is enabled on your iPhone or other iOS devices. So, if you are sharing your mobile data with someone, using your personal hotspot, then you need to stop till the file transfer is finished.
To disable personal hotspot, go to Settings and search for the personal hotspot, you can find it below Mobile data. Click on Personal Hotspot and toggle the switch next to Allow Other to Join to disable it.
6. Check if Airplane Mode is Activated
Airplane mode on your iOS device stops all the radio frequency transmission to the device. This can prevent AirDrop from transferring files to the device. You can disable Airplane Mode by going to Settings from your iOS device or the Control Center.
On your iOS device, toggle switch to the left to disable the Airplane Mode, as shown in the screenshot below.
If you have Mirror iPhone enabled on your iOS device, and you activate Airplane mode from your Apple Watch, it gets activated on your iPhone as well. Hence, you need to be careful when Mirror iPhone is enabled.
Once you disable Airplane mode, reconnect to Bluetooth and WiFi, and then try using AirDrop again. If your AirDrop was not working because of Airplane mode, then this solution will solve it.
7. Different Types of Files
AirDrop permits multiple file-sharing at once, but it does not allow different types of files to be shared in one go. If AirDrop notifies you with “Cannot receive all of these items at the same time”, then it means you are trying to transfer different types of files.
AirDrop cannot handle different types of files together because it directly opens the received file. When you send different types of files together, AirDrop fails to open it and notify you about the same. You can send all types of files one by one to avoid such issues.
8. Are Both Devices Signed in to iCloud?
As mentioned before, when you select discoverable by Contacts Only both the devices need to be signed in to iCloud. If any of the one devices is not signed in to iCloud, you can experience AirDrop not working issues.
If you are not able to sign in to the iCloud account, you can change the discoverable settings to Everyone, as mentioned in the first solution.
9. Check if AirDrop is not on Receiving Off Mode in any of the Device
A normal check if AirDrop isn’t on Receiving Off mode, would be of no harm. Sometimes, it may happen that you forgot to change the discoverable mode in any of the one devices, resulting in AirDrop not working on Mac or iPhone.
10. Turn Off Do Not Disturb Mode
If your Mac OS device or iOS device is on Do Not Disturb mode, then AirDrop cannot send the request to your device for file transfer. However, you can enable Do not disturb mode on the sending device but not on a receiving device.
You can turn off Do not Disturb on your iOS device by going to Settings ➞ Do Not Disturb and then toggle the switch to disable it.
For macOS devices, you need to Navigate to System Preferences ➞ Notifications ➞ Do Not Disturb ➞ Turn on Do Not Disturb.
To Turn off Do Not Disturb, you need to uncheck the first checkbox under Turn on Do Not Disturb. You can either select the odd hours, that is when you are not using your Mac system or disable it altogether.
After you turn off Do Not Disturb mode, check if you can connect to AirDrop without any issues.
11. Does the Sending App Support AirDrop?
If the ‘share via AirDrop’ option is not showing up on the application you use to share the files, then the App may not support AirDrop. However, majority third-party applications on the Apple device support AirDrop.
Some apps may exclude AirDrop due to copyright issues. If you cannot see AirDrop in a specific application, then you can contact the developers or manufacturers to get the details.
12. Update iOS device
The software update fixes the bugs on any of the devices. If you have any pending software updates on your iOS device, then you need to update it. An update can solve issues on your iPhone where AirDrop is not working.
To check for updates, go to Settings from your iPhone and click on General. In the General settings, go to Software Update.
You need to wait until the system checks for updates. If there are any updates available, it will show about it. Click on Download and Install to update your iOS device.
13. Change Firewall Settings on your Mac
If you have made changes in the firewall settings to block all incoming settings on your Mac OS, then it can cause trouble while using AirDrop. This setting not only prevents AirDrop but also other features like screen sharing.
Hence, if you started experiencing AirDrop not working on Mac Pro after changing the firewall settings, then you need to change it again.
To change firewall settings, you need the administrator’s password, hence keep that handy and then follow the instructions mentioned below.
Go to System Preferences ➞ Security & Privacy, and then click on the Firewall tab.
Next, click on Firewall Options and uncheck the checkbox next to Block all incoming connections.
After this settings change, try using AirDrop again and check if the issue resolves.
14. Check Content & Privacy Restrictions Settings
You cannot access Airdrop if the Content & Privacy Restrictions Settings restrict you. This setting is configured to restrict kids from accessing unwanted apps. Hence, if you disable AirDrop under the Allowed app section, then you may face AirDrop not working issue on your iPhone.
To check Content & Privacy Restrictions Settings, Go to Settings ➞ Screen Time ➞ Content & Privacy Restrictions. Next, click on Allowed Apps and toggle the switch next to AirDrop to enable it, if disabled.
After the settings change, try transferring files via Airdrop to check if it functions well.
15. Change Mac and iPhone Name
The OS or iOS device having weird names, with special characters or spaces, can cause trouble while using many features. So, if you have any such name, then try changing it. Changing the name can solve your AirDrop not working on Mac and iPhone issues.
To change your Mac name, navigate to System Preferences ➞ Sharing ➞ Computer Name and change the computer name.
To change your iPhone name, go to Settings ➞ General ➞ About ➞ Name and edit the name.
Restart your devices after you are done with changing the name and check if the issue resolves.
16. Reset Network Settings
AirDrop is dependent on WiFi and Bluetooth for connectivity. Even after trying the above 15 solutions, your AirDrop doesn’t work; then, you can try resetting network settings. Follow the instructions mentioned below.
Go to Settings ➞ General ➞ Reset and then click on Reset Network Settings. Enter the Passcode, when asked for and confirm network reset by clicking on Reset Network Settings.
After the reset, you need to retype the password for WiFi connections and reconnect the Bluetooth devices. However, this can solve your AirDrop not working issue on your iPhone, if it was because of a network problem.
17. Connect to Older Mac
If you want to send files to the Mac, which was built before 2012, then you need to follow some extra steps to connect using old AirDrop protocol.
Click on “Don’t see who you’re looking for?” and when a message box appears, click on Search for an Older Mac.
The system will search for an older Mac, and then you may see your device in the search list. So, if you are experiencing issues in AirDrop not working on Mac, then this can solve it.
18. Remove the Ethernet Cable
As mentioned before, your WiFi should be on when you AirDrop files. If you are using an ethernet cable to connect to the internet, then it won’t allow you to connect to the WiFi. Hence, unplug the ethernet cable and connect to WiFi. After removing the ethernet cable, try AirDropping the file again. It may be done without any problem.
19. Mac Update
Using the systems with an outdated version of OS brings lots of software-related problems. So, if you are using a Mac with an outdated Mac OS, then you need to update it. This can also cause AirDrop not working on Mac.
To update your Mac, go to System Preferences ➞ Software Update and install all the latest updates. After the update, check if AirDrop issues resolve.
20. Kill Bluetooth Service using Command
If the problem is in the Bluetooth connectivity, you can kill Mac’s Bluetooth services. When you forcefully kill the service, Mac OS restarts it. This can solve connectivity issues. To kill the Bluetooth service, open a Terminal window and type the below-mentioned command.
sudo pkill blued
Press Enter and type the administrator’s password when asked for, and then again hit Enter. After killing the process, reconnect to Bluetooth and try to Airdrop files. This may probably solve your Airdrop not working issue.
21. Fix Bluetooth Stack
If your AirDrop is not working, even after killing the Bluetooth process, then you can try deleting the Bluetooth stack. Mac stores all the Bluetooth related settings in a file; hence, if we delete these files, Mac OS needs to set up the connections again. To delete the Bluetooth related file, follow the procedure mentioned below.
Disable Bluetooth on your Mac device by clicking on the Bluetooth icon in the top left of the screen. Go to the Finder and select Go > Go to Folder. Type the following path and press Enter.
In the folder, search for com.apple.Bluetooth.plist and delete it.
Establish the Bluetooth connection again and check if AirDrop starts working.
22. Force Restart your iPhone
You can simply force restart your iPhone; this may not clear any data on your iPhone. Force restarts dump the apps and settings in memory (RAM) and restart afresh. As per Apple’s Support site, you need to follow different procedures to force restart different models of iPhone.
Force Restart Your iPhone
|iPhone Models||Force Restart Steps||Image to Identify Buttons|
|iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X and later|
|iPhone 7 and 7 Plus|
|iPhone 6s, 6s plus and SE|
After the restart, check if the Airdrop not working issue resolves.
23. Erase All Contents & Settings on your iPhone
If none of those above-mentioned solutions work for you, then you can erase all the contents from your iOS device and start afresh. However, before erasing the contents, take a backup of all the data on your iCloud or iTunes.
To erase all the contents & reset the settings on your iPhone, go to Settings. Click on General and then navigate to Reset.
In the Reset Settings, click on Erase All Contents and Settings.
Enter the Passcode, when asked for. Click on Erase iPhone when asked for confirmation.
After the reset, the iPhone restarts. Follow the on-screen wizard to set up your iPhone. Once the setup is done, check if the Airdrop issue resolves.
24. Troubleshoot using Recovery Mode
Troubleshooting your iOS device using recovery mode should be your last resort to AirDrop not working on Mac and iPhone. You can put your device in the recovery mode and restore your iOS device backup.
Using recovery mode is not difficult and does not have any major consequences on your system. However, you must only use this mode when there are no other options left.
You can find the detailed process of setting up your device again by putting it on recovery mode on Apple’s support site.
25. DFU (Device Firmware Update) Restore
The last option is to try DFU restore. DFU restore can have major consequences on your system as it erases everything from your iPhone device. It even clears hardware and software settings on your phone, making it as new as before.
However, you need to be careful while you restore DFU as it is classified under advanced processes and needs technical expertise to carry out the entire process successfully.
So please proceed with a DFU Restore only if you know what you are getting into. Read the guide linked above to understand what all is involved in a DFU Restore process.
With the above solutions, AirDrop not working on Mac and iPhone will be resolved. You can also visit the Apple store if you experience Airdrop not working issues on your Apple devices very frequently.
However, one needs to be careful while carrying on some solutions like DFU restore, factory reset, and hard reset. You should carry out these solutions only if you have the expertise to do so.