AirDrop Not Working? Repair It Quick With These Ideas

AirDrop is designed to 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's intended.

Air drop problems

If you've ever wondered why AirDrop isn't working on your iPhone or Mac, we have help for you. Here are everything you can do to fix AirDrop.

AirDrop requirements for Apple devices

First of all, you need to check that your device is actually compatible with AirDrop. Sometimes Apple's requirements change, but at the time of writing you can use AirDrop with:

  • Any iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iOS 7 or higher

  • Any Mac introduced after 2011 (except the 2012 Mac Pro) and running OS X Yosemite or later

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

Air drop

Apple also earlier allowed Mac to Mac AirDrop transfers between older computers. If your Mac is running macOS High Sierra or earlier, you might still be able to run AirDrop on the following Macs:

  • MacBook or MacBook Pro (from late 2008)

  • Mac Pro or iMac (with an AirPort Extreme as of early 2009)

  • Mac Mini (from 2010)

  • MacBook Air (from late 2010)

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

In AirDrop for Mac, look for an older Mac pop-up

Troubleshooting tips when AirDrop is not working

There are many problems that can arise when AirDrop does not work. Your devices may not show up in the AirDrop sharing window, you may not be able to send files to devices shown, or you may not be able to find certain files after someone else sends them to you.

We can't tell you exactly why AirDrop isn't working on your Mac or iPhone. However, with the following troubleshooting tips we can show you how to fix an AirDrop problem.

1. 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 it may fix them.

Go to on an iPhone or iPad Settings> General> Software update. On a Mac, open the Apple menu and go to System settings> Software update.

Check iPhone settings for iOS software updates

2. Restart both devices

This is a classic troubleshooting tip because it's 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.

3. Disable AirDrop restrictions

If you don't see AirDrop at all on your iOS device, you may have blocked it on your device Content and privacy restrictionswhich you can find under Settings> Screen Time. Look at that Allowed apps Section and make sure AirDrop Is on.

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

Conclude

Screen time settings highlighted in iPhone settings

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Content and privacy option highlighted in Screen Time settings

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Content and privacy restrictions showing AirDrop as an allowed app

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4. 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 Turn this feature off on your iOS device, then try using AirDrop again.

5. Turn off Do Not Disturb mode

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

to open control center and tap the moon icon to turn it off on your iPhone or iPad. On a Mac, click Message center Icon at the top right of the menu bar and scroll down to reveal a Do not bother Switch.

Do not disturb option in the Mac Notification Center

6. Restart Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on both devices

One particularly useful solution when AirDrop isn't working is to turn off and then turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth again. Open with your iPhone or iPad control center again and tap Wireless Internet access and Bluetooth On and off symbols.

On a Mac, click Wireless Internet access Icon in the menu bar and select Turn off Wi-Fi To turn it off, turn it on again. Go to System settings> Bluetooth Restart Bluetooth.

7. Change your AirDrop visibility settings

AirDrop gives you three visibility options: Anyone, Contacts only, or Received from. If you don't see your device in AirDrop, switch to each of these options to resolve the issue. Be careful with NSFW AirDrop attempts if left on Everyone.

On a Mac, open finder and select AirDrop from the sidebar. Open the drop-down menu it says in Allow me to be discovered by choose another option.

On an iPhone or iPad, open control centerThen tap and hold in the upper left to view one AirDrop Button. Use this option to select different options.

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The iPhone Control Center highlights the upper left area

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The iPhone Control Center highlights the AirDrop option

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AirDrop receives visibility options in the iPhone Control Center

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8. Prepare both devices to receive an AirDrop request

Sometimes it helps to prepare your device for incoming AirDrop transfers so that it is more likely to show up on someone else's device. Unlock your iPhone or iPad and keep it on the home screen to get ready. For a Mac, open a new one finder Window and select AirDrop from the sidebar.

9. Use AirDrop from a third Apple device

This is not an option for everyone. However, if you have a replacement Apple device, you should try connecting via AirDrop. Usually, when your iPhone or Mac shows up on this new device, it suddenly shows up on the original device as well.

Multiple devices in the AirDrop release sheet

10. Send a single file instead of several

AirDrop lets you share many different types of files at the same time. However, if AirDrop isn't working on your iPhone or Mac, you can make things easier by sending a single file at a time instead.

AirDrop files are automatically opened in a relevant app. For example, pictures will open in the Photos app. However, it doesn't always open multiple file types in the same app, which may explain why the AirDrop transfer failed.

11. Check the download folder for missing files

If AirDrop sent a file to your device but it can't be found, check the Downloads Folder. On an iPhone, open the Files App and look for one Downloads Folder in iCloud Drive. On a Mac, you can usually find the Downloads Folder next to the rubbish in the dock.

Mac Dock with Downloads Stack

12. Turn off your VPN for AirDrop to work

Some users found that AirDrop didn't work 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.

Go to on an iPhone or iPad Settings> General> VPN in order to do this. And on a Mac you go to System Settings> Network and choose yours VPN from the sidebar.

13. Open your Mac's firewall for additional connections

The firewall on your Mac may be blocking all incoming connections, including new AirDrop transmissions. You need to resolve these limitations in System Preferences if AirDrop still does not work.

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

Uncheck the All incoming connections box in Mac Firewall settings

14. Sign in to your Apple ID account again

Go to on an iPhone or iPad Settings> (your name)> Sign out. Select the data to be saved on your device and confirm that you want to Log out. After signing out, go back to Settings to sign in to your Apple ID again.

On a Mac, go to System Preferences> Apple ID> Overview sign out. Again, select the data to be saved on your device and confirm that you want to Log out. After signing out is complete, sign in to the same page and try using AirDrop again.

15. Reset the network settings on your iPhone

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

If you still want to move on, go to Settings> General> Reset and tap Reset network settings. Hopefully, AirDrop will work again after the reset.

Reset network settings confirmation pop-up on iPhone

If AirDrop still doesn't work

Until Apple makes AirDrop more reliable, you might be luckier if you use an alternate transfer method instead. Ironically, Apple's own iCloud Drive is one of the best AirDrop alternatives. Just upload files to iCloud from one device and download them from another device.

Managing files with iCloud Drive isn't as fast as using AirDrop because you have to upload and download files instead of transferring them directly. However, if AirDrop isn't working, iCloud Drive is the next best option.

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About the author

Dan Helyer
(157 articles published)

Dan writes tutorials and troubleshooting guides to help people get the most out of their technology. Before becoming a writer, he earned a BSc in audio technology, oversaw repairs at an Apple store, and even taught English in China.

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