How to Airdrop Between Mac and iPhone

If you have owned an Apple device for a long time, you might now be accustomed to this feature called Airdrop. In case you have not, Airdrop is what helps you transfer files and other things between iPhones, iPads, and Macs seamlessly without much effort and certainly without needing to establish a connection using cables. 

You can transfer almost anything that’s shareable from your macOS or iOS device and send it to your other device or your friend’s Mac or iPhone. It isn’t just easy to use, it’s also the fastest means of copying stuff from a Mac to an iPhone or vice versa. This is possible using Bluetooth and WiFi and when sending files, all the things that get transferred are encrypted. 

If you’re wondering how you can use Airdrop to transfer files between a Mac and an iPhone, then the following post can help you get started with it. 

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What can you share using Airdrop?

AirDrop can be used to transfer files of any type and size between two Apple devices. You can share pictures, videos, notes, voice memos, documents, links, contacts, Map locations, directions, and any other file that is available on your Mac or iPhone.

Besides the files in your local library, you can also share items within apps that support AirDrop. You will be easily able to utilize the Airdrop feature while using Safari, Notes, Photos, Contacts, Maps, Keynote, Pages, Numbers, GarageBand, Photo Booth, iMovie, iPhoto, and more. 

As long as the Airdrop icon appears in the Share menu inside an app, you can continue sharing things between a Mac and an iPhone using Airdrop.

What do you need?

Before you start sharing files and other content using Airdrop, you have to make sure that you meet these requirements:

  • You’re using an iPhone 5 and later running iOS 7 and later
  • You own a Mac (iMac, Mac mini, or MacBook) from 2012 (except for mid-2012 Mac Pro) running at least OS X Yosemite (10.0)
  • Both the Mac and iPhone are kept within 30 feet of each other
  • WiFi and Bluetooth are turned on for both Mac and iPhone
  • Personal Hotspot is turned off on the iPhone

How to enable Airdrop

You can use Airdrop to transfer files between a Mac and an iPhone but before you start moving them, you first need to enable Airdrop of each of these devices so that a connection can be established. 

On a Mac

You can enable Airdrop on your Mac in two different ways – using the Finder app and using the Control Center on macOS Big Sur. 

Using Control Center on macOS Big Sur

The easiest way to enable Airdrop on a Mac is by using the Control Center tool inside the Menu bar. The Control Center is one of the newest additions to macOS, bringing quick access to controls on the Mac and it’s available to users as part of the macOS Big Sur update.

To enable Airdrop, click on the Control Center icon on the Menu bar.

Now, click on the Airdrop icon from the Control Center to turn it ON. Since Airdrop requires you to switch on Bluetooth, turning Airdrop ON will also turn on Bluetooth.

Click on the arrow icon adjacent to ‘Airdrop’.

Select any of the two options – Contacts Only or Everyone to choose who you want to receive items from.

Using the Finder app

If you’re running on an older version of macOS or you don’t use Control Center, then you can also enable Airdrop using the Finder app.

Open the Finder app from the Launchpad or the dock.

Inside Finder, click on the ‘Airdrop’ tab from the left. You will be asked to turn ON Bluetooth on your Mac which you can do by clicking the ‘Turn On Bluetooth’ button on the screen.

When Bluetooth has been turned ON, you can choose any of the two options – Contacts Only or Everyone from the ‘Allow me to be discovered by:’ section to choose whom you want to receive files from.

On an iPhone

Similar to the procedure on the Mac, you can enable Airdrop on your iPhone – using the Control Center or using the Settings app. 

Using Control Center

Open to Control Center on your iPhone by either swiping down from the top-right corner of the screen (on iPhone X or later) or by swiping up from the bottom of the screen (iPhone 8 or earlier). 

When the Control Center pops up, press and hold any of the elements or anywhere within the network settings card (the one that includes quick access to WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular data, and other settings) to expand it.

Tap and hold the Airdrop icon to get more Airdrop options.

Choose either ‘Contacts Only’ or ‘Everyone’ to make sure your iPhone is discoverable for others.

Using the Settings app

You can also turn on AirDrop from within your iPhone’s Settings app. To do this, open the Settings app and select the ‘General’ option from the screen.

Inside the General screen, tap on ‘Airdrop’.

On the next screen, select one of these options – ‘Contacts Only’ or ‘Everyone’; to enable Airdrop and to make your device discoverable.

How to send files using Airdrop

Once Airdrop has been enabled, you can start sending files from your Mac or iPhone right away. 

On a Mac

After you have turned ON Airdrop, go to the file or the app whose content you want to share and click on the ‘Share’ option. When sharing files in your library, you can access the Share option by Control-clicking on the file.

When inside an app, the Share option will be available inside the File tab on the Menu bar at the top.

From the list of options available in the ‘Share’ menu, select ‘Airdrop’. 

If the recipient has enabled Airdrop on their device, you will be able to see their name or their device name in the AirDrop sheet that pops up on the screen. Select the device you want to share the file with.

Alternatively, you can open the Finder app on your Mac, go to the Airdrop tab from the left sidebar, check whether the person you want to send to is visible inside the Airdrop window. If yes, select the files you want to share from another Finder window and drag them to the person or device’s thumbnail inside the  Airdrop window.

Airdrop will now start sending the file(s) from your Mac to the iPhone and it will take a few seconds depending on the size of the files that are being shared. The same technique can be executed when transferring files from one Mac to the other. 

On an iPhone

To share a file or content from an app using Airdrop, tap the Share option or the Share icon (the one with the up arrow pointed away from the box).

Select the Airdrop option from the Share menu.

You will be shown a list of Airdrop-enabled devices in your surroundings. Tap on the Mac computer you want to transfer the file to and the file transfer process will begin straight after the recipient accepts the transfer.

The transfer will be shown as ‘Waiting’ when you’re waiting for the recipient approval and it will then show as ‘Sending’ when the files are being sent. Once the files are sent, the transfer will be labeled as ‘Sent’ inside the Airdrop window.

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How to receive files using Airdrop

As a means to protect your device’s security and to avoid someone from sending you suspicious files, Apple provides a safety layer when using Airdrop on a Mac or iPhone. You will have to give your Mac or iPhone the approval to accept a file transfer to confirm that you want to receive it on your device. 

On a Mac

Before you receive a file from someone or an iPhone that you own, you must enable Airdrop on our Mac by following the steps mentioned above. 

When someone or your own iPhone is attempting to send you files using AirDrop, you will be alerted with a notification at the top right corner of your screen. The notification will read that a device is dying trying to send a particular file with options to Accept or Reject the file transfer.

If the message is from a device you know, then click on the ‘Accept’ button. If not, click on ‘Decline’ to prevent the device from sending you files.  

On an iPhone

After a file is being shared from a Mac, you will receive an alert on your iPhone with a preview of the file and whether you want to accept it. 

You can start the Airdrop transfer process by tapping the ‘Accept’ button on the Airdrop alert.

When transferring files within your own devices, all files will be directly received on your iPhone without you needing to Accept or Decline. Links to websites will open on Safari while pictures will show inside the Photos app. 

That’s all you need to know to start transferring files between a Mac and an iPhone. To know more about all things Mac and iPhone, check out our dedicated macOS and iOS sections. 


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