What is Airdrop? How does it work on iOS and Mac? Discover it!

Far are those times when iPhone users could not send photos, videos or files to other devices. What is AirDrop? A native iOS and macOS function with which we can send content very diverse to other devices, whether from iOS to iOS, from iOS to Mac or from Mac to Mac. Any combination is possible. We explain absolutely all the details of how AirDrop works, from what devices are compatible, to how to configure the restrictions to avoid undesirable connections. Do you want to be a teacher with AirDrop? Inside you have everything you need.

How AirDrop works

AirDrop uses Bluetooth and WiFi to detect devices and transfer files, therefore it is necessary to have both connections active. Bluetooth is used to detect devices and establish the connection, while file transfer is done via the WiFi connection, much faster and with greater bandwidth. But do not worry because it is not necessary to be connected to a WiFi network, the connection is made directly between the two devices, without any networks in between.

This mode of operation allows even if you have AirDrop activated the battery consumption is very low, since the search for devices is carried out by means of Bluetooth of low consumption, a connection that has improved a lot in the last years and that hardly supposes an extra cost of battery.

What devices are compatible?

Since Bluetooth and WiFi are used to transfer the files, the requirements should not be high at first, as all iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Mac computers have such connections. But there are some system and hardware requirements left out by some older devices.

For iOS devices it is necessary:

  • iOS 7 or later
  • iPhone 5 or later
  • iPad 4 or later
  • iPad Mini 1st generation or later
  • iPod Toch 5th Generation and later

For Mac computers there are different requirements if you are sending to another Mac or to an iOS device, since Macs are compatible with different versions of AirDrop, while iOS devices require a more modern version. If you are going to send from Mac to Mac you need:

  • MacBook Pro Late 2008 or later (except MacBook Pro 17 ″ Late 2008)
  • MacBook Air Late 2010 or later
  • MacBook Late 2008 or later (except MacBook white Late 2008)
  • iMac Early 2009 or later
  • Mac Mini Mid 2010 or later
  • Mac Pro Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme or Mid 2010 card

If you want to send from an iOS device to a Mac, or vice versa, you first need an iOS device compatible with AirDrop, already listed above, and a Mac of the following:

  • Any computer of 2012 or later, with OS X Yosemite or later, except for Mac Pro Mid 2012.

How to set up AirDrop on iOS

For AirDrop to work, it is only necessary that Bluetooth and WiFi are activated. Display the control center and make sure that the AirDrop button is blue, indicating that reception is activated. The only configuration you have to do is to indicate who you allow to send files to: anyone, only those in your contacts, or anyone (which will deactivate AirDrop). Note that if Do Not Disturb mode is activated, AirDrop will automatically deactivate.

Privacy is not a problem, because any submission of another person's file, whether contact or unknown, will require your acceptance Unlocking the device Configuring it therefore open to all or only your contacts will only mean that those strangers will not even bother you with the notification that they want to send you a file. Something important is that if you choose the contacts only option you must make sure that your phone book includes the phone number and / or email associated with the iCloud account of the person who wants to send the file to you.

How to configure AirDrop on macOS

For macOS the configuration is not complicated either and it is based the same as in iOS in deciding who can send you files. AirDrop is integrated in Finder, where it has its own section in the left column. Within this section we will see the same options as in iOS (Nobody, Only contacts and All), and we will see the devices close to which we can send devices, or from whom we can receive them.

How to prepare your device for receiving a file

We already have everything perfectly configured, we make sure that our WiFi and Bluetooth connection is activated, our device is compatible, and we want them to send us a file. Although reception via AirDrop is supposedly “Automatic,” anyone who opens their share menu via AirDrop should see your device. As long as your privacy options are appropriate, there are times when the receiver we want does not appear.

If this happens the only thing we have to ask the receiver of the file is to deploy the Control Center on iOS, sliding from the bottom up on the screen, or if it is with macOS to open Finder and select the “AirDrop” section in the column on the left Once this is done we should see them on the sharing screen. If we still do not see it, you should review the privacy options in case you have limited file delivery or even AirDrop disabled.

How to send files using AirDrop

Once we have verified that our devices are compatible with AirDrop, that we have the WiFi and Bluetooth connections activated and that both devices (transmitter and receiver) are close enough to be able to be detected via Bluetooth, we can start the transfer of a file. What kind of files can be shared? Where can it be shared from? The answer is simple: any file compatible with this sending system and from any application that is compatible with the share option. It does not need to be a native application, third-party applications can perfectly send files via AirDrop.

These are just a few examples of what we can share: photos and videos, Apple Music or Spotify lists, news from a newspaper from your iOS application, web pages from Safari, documents of all kinds from iCloud Drive … There is only one limitation: no copyrighted content. You can share the link to an Apple Music song, but not the song file, and the same goes for any movie you have on your iPhone, unless you have it in a storage application such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

Sending a file is very simple. We just have to select the file in question, search the application for the square icon with the arrow (1) and press it and then the typical “Share” menu of iOS will appear. At the top we should see the receivers that have active AirDrop (if they do not appear look just in the previous section where we indicated how to make them appear), select the receiver (2) and wait for the file to be sent. If it is a device with our same iCloud account the shipment will be automatic, if it is another account the receiver must confirm receipt, for which you will also have to unlock the device. After a few seconds the file will have been transferred and will be confirmed on our device (3).

On Mac the procedure is very similar, with the obvious changes due to the different interface it has. AirDrop is within the Share options of those compatible applications, like Safari. As in iOS, we look for the square icon with the arrow and select AirDrop.

In the AirDrop window we will see the potential recipients of the files, and as we did before we can only choose who is destined and wait a few seconds for the file to be sent.

In the case that there is no application from which to use that option, because it is a file, we have several options to use AirDrop. The first is to open a Finder window and select “AirDrop” in the left column. We will see the receivers that are active and we can drag any item to that window to be sent to them.

As well we can choose the file from Finder, and with right click choose the option "Share> AirDrop" and the window to choose the receiver will appear, as in the first example.

A fast and very practical system

Surely more than once you have shared photos or videos to a person who had it right next door using a messaging application such as WhatsApp or email. In addition to data consumption, you should know that these files are compressed and therefore lose quality, and depending on the coverage and size it may even take a long time to send. AirDrop is a system that you can use with any iPhone, iPad or Mac user and that very easily and quickly, without having to resort to an internet connection and without loss of quality, allows you to share those files with another person.

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