Tech Tidbits: AirDrop

*Note 1: If you didn’t see my first installment of Tech Tidbits and are wondering what the heck they are, click here.

**Note 2: AirDrop is only available on Apple products (sorry, Android and Windows phone users). While I haven’t used these myself, I wanted to try to help you out, so I’ve linked to a few articles that talk about AirDrop alternatives for Android and Windows phone users. Check out the links below and let me know if any of these options work or if you’ve used anything else that you’d recommend!

Google “Files Go” App — The Verge

Android Beam — The Verge

AirDrop alternatives for Android and Windows — The New York Times

180111 Apple AirDrop Icon


AirDrop is an awesome technology, and one of the most useful features of Apple devices. So I’m always a little surprised when I run across iPhone users that haven’t used it (or even heard of it). Picture this: you go to dinner with friends and one of you takes the perfect group shot (you know — no bad hair, no closed eyes, no double chins). Obviously, you and everyone else wants a copy of the photo. But what is the best and easiest way to send it to everyone? You can always resort to email — but we all know how clunky that can be — especially when you’re dealing with large files. Then there’s the option to post the photo to social media and let everyone retrieve it. But sometimes you don’t want the photo on social media, and some social networks save photos at a lower quality or smaller size. Enter the magic of AirDrop.

All the owner of the original photo has to do is go into their iPhone Photo Album, select the photo(s) they want to share, wait for eligible AirDrop devices to show up as a share option, and then tap each person’s name bubble to send the photo to them. Voila! That’s it. The person receiving the photo will see an alert pop up on their phone screen asking if they want to “accept” or “decline” the photo. Once they hit “accept” a copy of the photo will now live in their iPhone Photo Album.


AirDrop works through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, so you can only share content with other compatible Apple devices that are in that range.

You can send other types of content via AirDrop as well (i.e. Safari links, Contacts), but be careful about sending too many large videos at once — this can really slow down the transfer, or freeze it completely. There have been times where I’ve had to kill a transfer and send videos in small batches to get them to successfully send. This may depend on your network speed or wifi connection, but it’s just something to keep in mind.

You can also send content between more than just two iPhones. AirDrop works like a charm with iPads and MacBooks too. I love being able to quickly send files between my phone and my MacBook Pro. And if both devices are logged into the same Apple ID, you don’t even have to formally accept the transfer (it should go through automatically). To turn on AirDrop on a MacBook, go to Finder > AirDrop.

To adjust your AirDrop settings, go to Settings > General > AirDrop, or access AirDrop through Control Center by following the screenshots below. There are three different options you can choose related to if/how you want to use AirDrop.

  • Receiving Off: you won’t receive AirDrop requests.
  • Contacts Only: only your Contacts can see your device.
  • Everyone: all nearby Apple devices using AirDrop can see your device

One last word of caution for both senders and receivers. If you are the SENDER, make sure to look closely at the devices that show up as share options. If you’re in a populated area, there will likely be AirDrop users that pop up on your screen that are total strangers. Be sure that you don’t accidentally tap their name and send them your content! If you are the RECEIVER and you have your AirDrop setting set to “Everyone” you have the potential to be sent photos by strangers as well. However, as mentioned above, you do have to actually accept the request. So random people can’t just start AirDropping content to you without your knowledge or consent! I have only had ONE instance of a stranger trying to AirDrop me something questionable. It was not wholesome. But I think it was a kid goofing around in a busy airport 😏

I keep my AirDrop setting set to “Contacts Only” — and that would be my recommendation to you too. It will give you the ability to use AirDrop, but not run into any weird situations with strangers or weirdos. That said, because of this the only real issue I’ve ever had with AirDrop is trying to send or receive a photo from someone who isn’t in my Contacts. If that happens, I temporarily change my Airdrop setting to “Everyone” (and have the sender do that too if I’m not in their Contacts either), and then after I receive the content I want, I switch it back to “Contacts Only”.

There are other cool apps and services that are better suited for sharing albums of photos and videos (from a trip or vacation, for example), so I’ll talk about that another time. But for sending individual photos, or < 10 photos/videos, AirDrop is where it’s at.

Honestly, it’s things like AirDrop that keep me a willing prisoner in Apple’s ecosystem. I hope I’ve turned a few of you onto this amazing little feature, and if you already love AirDrop or have any creative ways you’ve used it, let me know!




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