How to use AirDrop for iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide

AirDrop began as an OS X Lion feature that let Mac users easily beam files to each other over an ad-hoc Wi-Fi connection. After several attempts to bring it to iOS were rejected for not being accessible enough to mainstream customers, a new version was developed specifically iOS 7 that's simpler and more obvious. Unfortunately, despite sharing the same name, the iOS version uses a different protocol from the Mac version, and that means — for now — it can only be used to send data between iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. If that's all you want to do, whether you're in the same office, school, home, park, plane, or anywhere within Bluetooth and Wi-Fi range, AirDrop is reasonably quick and incredibly convenient.

Note: AirDrop is only available on iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPad Air, iPad 4, Retina iPad mini, iPad mini, and iPod touch 5 — in other words, devices released in the fall of 2012 or later. An iCloud account is needed to use the "contacts only" share mode.

How to enable iOS 7 AirDrop on your iPhone and iPad

How to enable iOS 7 AirDrop on your iPhone and iPad

AirDrop in iOS 7 lets you quickly and easily beam files from one iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to another over a secure, ad-hoc Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection. Despite the name, iOS AirDrop isn't (yet) compatible with OS X AirDrop. However, it does support photos, videos, contacts, Passbook passes, Voice Memos, Map location, and any and everything else that appears on a Share sheet. Before being able to use AirDrop, though, you need to enable it in Control Center. Here's how!

How to send a file with iOS 7 AirDrop on your iPhone or iPad

How to send a file with iOS 7 AirDrop

With iOS 7 and AirDrop, as long as you're within range of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, you can send all sorts of data between iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Whether its a photo or video, a Voice Memo or a Passbook pass, a Map location or Safari link, or anything and everything that shows up on a Share sheet, with just a few taps you can quickly, easily send it on its way. Here's how!

How to restrict AirDrop with parental controls for iPhone and iPad

How to use parental controls on iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide

With Parental Control restrictions you can turn off any features you don't want your kids accessing without your supervision. That includes disabling access to Safari, Camera, FaceTime, Siri, AirDrop, CarPlay, and more. With those restrictions in place, you won't have to worry about your kids seeing web pages, taking pictures, making video calls, performing voice commands, sending information, or controlling the car that you'd really rather they didn't.

How to get more help with iOS 7

Yeah, we realize this ultimate guide is decidedly on the short side, but that's because AirDrop really is very simple to use once you know how. We'll be adding in OS X AirDrop soon though, so that'll fill it out! Stay tuned!

If you have additional questions, or need some more help with Safari or iOS 7, check out the following resources!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How to use AirDrop for iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide


This was a great article. Thanks for the guide. This will help with sending files and other documents with other iOS users.

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I wish you had also included on the article the list of devices capable of using AirDrop so that other readers running older devices won't have to try to search for it.

Also, from a wiki:

iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5, iPad Air, iPad (4th generation), iPad Mini with Retina display, iPad Mini, iPod Touch (5th generation)

Running Mac OS X Lion (10.7) or newer:
MacBook Pro (Late 2008), MacBook Air (Late 2010), MacBook (Late 2008) (white MacBook (Late 2008) does not support AirDrop), iMac (Early 2009), Mac Mini (Mid 2010), Mac Pro (Mid 2010; Early 2008 or Early 2009 with AirDrop-supporting AirPort Extreme card)

We forget about this feature in my house and still just iMessage everything to each other. Should we be doing this instead?

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AirDrop is direct and puts the data where it needs to go, so it requires less involvement from you, but at the end of the day as long as you get it and everyone is happy, that's the important thing.

I figure that. But getting something Airdropped usually works like this...

"Hey, turn on your Airdrop."
"Huh? Oh.. Okay... "
* a moment *
"I don't see you..."
"Hold on, try now."
"Ok, there you are."
* sending *
"ooh, I got it."
* Turns Airdrop back off *

A few minute process which is usually done in seconds via iMessage. That's all I'm saying.

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I have an iPad Air and iPhone 5 under the same icloud account but I'm not seeing my contact popping up to share files through Airdrop when both are enabled for "everyone". Is there noway to use Airdrop with the same account?

I have waited so long for an AirDrop feature for iOS. When it was released I was so excited & sad at the same time as I can't take advantage of AirDrop w/my current iPhone. However, this is handy for my girls' iPad minis.

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