AirDrop Not Working? Fix It Quickly With These Tips

By | March 9, 2022

AirDrop should make it easy to transfer data from one Apple device to another. It uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to create an encrypted communication channel. Unfortunately, AirDrop is far from perfect and doesn’t always work the way it should.

If you’ve ever wondered why AirDrop isn’t working on your iPhone or Mac, we have help for you. Below, you’ll find everything you can do to fix AirDrop.

AirDrop Requirements for Apple Devices

First you need to check if your device is really compatible with AirDrop. Sometimes Apple’s requirements change, but at the time of writing, you can use AirDrop by:

  • Any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 7 or later
  • Any Mac introduced after 2011 (excluding Mac Pro 2012) running OS X Yosemite or later

If your device is compatible, make sure you know how to use AirDrop properly.

Apple used to allow AirDrop transfers to Mac-to-Mac computers too. If your Mac is running macOS High Sierra or earlier, you may still be able to AirDrop with these Macs:

  • MacBook or MacBook Pro (from late 2008 onwards)
  • Mac Pro or iMac (from early 2009 onwards, with AirPort Extreme)
  • Mac Mini (from 2010 onwards)
  • MacBook Air (from late 2010 onwards)

If you can’t find one of these older Macs using AirDrop, click Don’t see who you’re looking for? and select Search for an Older Mac. Apple removed this option in macOS Catalina.

Troubleshooting Tips When AirDrop Doesn’t Work

There are many issues that you may encounter when AirDrop is not working. You might find that your device doesn’t appear in the AirDrop sharing window, you can’t send files to the devices that appear, or you can’t find certain files after someone else sent them to you.

We can’t tell you exactly why AirDrop isn’t working on your Mac or iPhone. But we can show you how to fix AirDrop issues with the troubleshooting tips below.

Update Operating System

Apple frequently releases new updates for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS that are designed to fix software bugs. If AirDrop is not working, install the latest update for your device as they can fix it.

On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > General > Software Update. On a Mac, open Apple menu and open System Preferences> Update Software.

Restart Both Devices

This is a classic troubleshooting tip because it is so effective. Restarting your iPhone, iPad, or Mac may be all you need to get AirDrop working again. And it only takes a moment to try it.

Turn off AirDrop Restrictions

If AirDrop isn’t showing up on your iOS device at all, you may have blocked it on Content & Privacy Restrictions, which you will find below Settings > Screen Time. Look at the section Allowed Apps and make sure AirDrop turned on.

You may need to enter your Screen Time passcode to make changes.

Disable Personal Hotspot on your iPhone

AirDrop and Personal Hotspot take advantage of your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection, so you can’t use them at the same time. open Settings > Personal Hotspot on your iOS device to turn the feature off, then try using AirDrop again.

Turn off Do Not Disturb

Your device may not receive transfer requests from AirDrop because Do Not Disturb is turned on.

open Control Center and tap the moon icon to turn it off on your iPhone or iPad. On a Mac, click the icon Notification Center at the top right of the menu bar and scroll down to show the toggle Do Not Disturb.

Restart Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on Both Devices

A very useful workaround if AirDrop isn’t working is to disable and re-enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Using your iPhone or iPad, go to Control Center again and tap the icon Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to turn it off and on.

On a Mac, click the icon Wi-Fi in the menu bar and select Turn Wi-Fi off to turn it off, then on again. open System Preferences > Bluetooth to restart Bluetooth.

Change Your AirDrop Visibility Settings

AirDrop gives you three visibility options: Everyone, Contacts Only, or Receiving Off. If your device isn’t showing up in AirDrop, try switching to each of these options to fix it. Be careful with NSFW AirDrop attempts if you leave it on Everyone.

On a Mac, open Finder and select AirDrop from the sidebar. Open the dropdown menu that contains Allow me to be discovered by.

On your iPhone or iPad, go to Control Center, then tap and hold at the top left to reveal the button AirDrop. Use this to select a different option.

Prepare Both Devices to Receive AirDrop Requests

Sometimes it helps to prepare your device for incoming AirDrop transfers, making it more likely to show up on other people’s devices. Unlock your iPhone or iPad and leave it on the Home screen to set it up. For Mac, open a window Finder new and choose AirDrop from the sidebar.

Use AirDrop From A Third Apple Device

This isn’t an option for everyone, but if you have a spare Apple device, you should try using it to connect via AirDrop. Usually, if your iPhone or Mac appears on this new device, it suddenly appears on the original device as well.

Send Single Files Instead of Multiple

AirDrop lets you share many types of files at the same time. But if AirDrop isn’t working on your iPhone or Mac, you might want to simplify matters by sending one file at a time.

AirDrop files automatically open in the relevant app. For example, an image opens in the Photos app. But some file types don’t always open in the same app, which might explain why AirDrop transfer fails.

Check Download Folder for Missing Files

If AirDrop sends a file to your device but you can’t find it, look in the folder Downloads. On iPhone, open the app Files and search for the folder Downloads in iCloud Drive. On a Mac, you can usually find a folder Downloads next to Trash in the dock.

Turn Off Your VPN for AirDrop to Work

Some users find that AirDrop doesn’t work until they turn off the VPN on their iPhone or Mac. You may need to do this in VPN app or in your device settings.

On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > General > VPN to do this. And on Mac, go to System Preferences > Network and select VPN you from the sidebar.

Open Your Mac’s Firewall to More Connections

The firewall on your Mac might be set to block all incoming connections, which often includes new AirDrop transfers. You should loosen this restriction from System Preferences if AirDrop is still not working.

open System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall. Click the lock and enter your administrator password to unlock the changes. Then open the window Firewall Options and uncheck the option for Block all incoming connections.

Sign In to Your Apple ID Account Again

On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > [Your Name] > Sign Out. Select the data to save on your device, then confirm that you want Sign Out. After signing out, head back to Settings to sign in to your Apple ID again.

On a Mac, open System Preferences > Apple ID > Overview to get out of. Again, select the data to be stored on your device and confirm that you want Sign Out. Once signed out, sign in from the same page and try using AirDrop again.

Reset Network Settings On Your iPhone

You can reset network settings on your iPhone or iPad to fix all kinds of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth issues, including issues with AirDrop not working. When you reset this setting, your device forgets any Wi-Fi passwords you have saved, so you will have to reconnect to trusted networks again.

If you still want to continue, go to Settings > General > Reset and tap Reset Network Settings. Hopefully, AirDrop starts working again after the reset.

If AirDrop Still Not Working

Until Apple makes AirDrop more reliable, you may have better luck using an alternative transfer method. Ironically, one of the best AirDrop alternatives is Apple’s iCloud Drive. Just upload files to iCloud from one device, then you can download them from another.

Manage files with iCloud Drive not as fast as using AirDrop, as you need to upload and download files instead of transferring them directly. But when AirDrop isn’t working, iCloud Drive is the next best option.

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