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With AirDrop, you can transfer almost anything wirelessly from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to any other current Apple device. It uses Bluetooth 4.x for energy efficient transmission and discovery and peer-to-peer WiFi for fast transmission. Transferring files to your various Apple devices is part of what makes using the best iPhone, iPad, or Mac so easy. The whole process is not only easy; it’s incredibly safe … when it works. That’s true, although we loved how stable and amazing Apple’s latest software is in our iOS 14 review, any software can sometimes malfunction.

If you are having AirDrop issues, there are a few steps you can take to correct the behavior on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac so that you can transfer files again without any hassle. Here are some steps you can try to solve many problems with AirDrop when it is not working the way you want.

Tips for Troubleshooting When AirDrop Doesn’t Work

There are many problems you can encounter when AirDrop is not working. You may find that your devices are not showing up in the AirDrop sharing window, that you can’t send files to devices that do appear, or that you can’t find certain files after someone else has 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 any AirDrop issues with the troubleshooting tips below.

Update the operating system

Apple frequently releases new updates for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS that are designed to fix software bugs. If AirDrop isn’t working, install the latest updates for your devices as they can fix it.

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

Restart both devices

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

Turn off AirDrop restrictions

If AirDrop isn’t showing up on your iOS device, you may have blocked it in your Content and Privacy Restrictions, found under Settings> Screen Time. Take a look at the Allowed apps section and make sure AirDrop is turned on. You may need to enter a Screen Time passcode to make changes.

Disable the personal hotspot on your iPhone

Both AirDrop and Personal Hotspot use your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, so you can’t use them at the same time. Go to Settings> Personal Hotspot on your iOS device to disable that feature, then try using AirDrop again.

Turn off do not disturb mode

Your device may not receive AirDrop transfer requests because Do Not Disturb is turned on. Open Control Center and tap on the moon icon to turn it off on your iPhone or iPad. On a Mac, click the Notification Center icon at the top right of the menu bar and scroll down to reveal a Do Not Disturb switch.

Restart Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on both devices

A particularly useful solution if AirDrop isn’t working is to disable and re-enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Using your iPhone or iPad, open Control Center again and tap on the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icons to turn them off and on.

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

Change AirDrop Visibility Settings

AirDrop offers you three visibility options: All, Contacts only or Reception disabled. If your device isn’t showing up in AirDrop, try switching to each of these options to fix it. Just be wary of NSFW AirDrop attempts if you leave it to All.

On a Mac, open the Finder and select AirDrop in the sidebar. Open the drop-down menu where it says Allow to be discovered to choose a different option. On an iPhone or iPad, open Control Center, then tap and hold in the upper left section to reveal an AirDrop button. Use this to choose different options.

Use AirDrop from a third Apple device

This is not 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 shows up on this new device, it suddenly shows up on the original device as well.

Send a single file instead of several

AirDrop allows you to share many different types of files at the same time. But if AirDrop isn’t working on your iPhone or Mac, you might want to keep things simple by sending only one file at a time.

AirDrop files open automatically in a relevant application. For example, images open in the Photos app. But multiple types of files don’t always open in the same app, which could explain why the AirDrop transfer failed.

Check the Downloads folder for missing files

If AirDrop sent a file to your device but can’t find it, take a look at the Downloads folder. On an iPhone, open the Files app and find a Downloads folder in iCloud Drive. On a Mac, you can usually find the Downloads folder next to Trash in the Dock.

Turn off your VPN for AirDrop to work

Some users found that AirDrop was not working until they turned off the VPN on their iPhone or Mac. You may need to do this in the VPN app or in your device settings.

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

Open your Mac’s firewall to more connections

Your Mac’s firewall may be configured to block all incoming connections, which often includes new AirDrop transfers. You will need to loosen these restrictions from the System Preferences if AirDrop still doesn’t work.

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

Log back into your Apple ID account

On an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings> > Log out. Choose the data to keep on your device, then confirm that you want to log out. After signing out, go back to Settings to sign in with your Apple ID again.

On a Mac, go to System Preferences> Apple ID> Overview to sign out. Once again, choose the data to keep on your device and confirm that you want to log out. Once the logout is complete, log in from the same page and try using AirDrop again.

Reset network settings on your iPhone

You can reset network settings on an iPhone or iPad to fix all sorts of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth issues, including AirDrop not working issues. When you reset these settings, your device forgets the Wi-Fi passwords you have saved, so you will have to reconnect to trusted networks.

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

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