How to enable iOS 7 AirDrop on your iPhone or iPad

How to enable iOS 7 AirDrop on your iPhone and iPad

AirDrop for iOS 7 lets you quickly and easily beam files from one iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to another over a secure, ad-hoc connection within a radius of approximately 30 feet. It requires both Bluetooth (to broadcast, discover, and negotiate the connection) and Wi-Fi (to transfer the data) in order to work both power efficiently and quickly. 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 enable iOS 7 AirDrop so only contacts can send you files

  1. Make sure you're logged into iCloud.
  2. Bring up Control Center by sliding your finger from the bottom bezel of your iPhone, iPod, or iPad, up onto the screen.
  3. Make sure both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are active.
  4. Tap on AirDrop.
  5. Choose the Contacts Only option.

Control Center should now say: AirDrop: Contacts Only.

Note: You and everyone you're sharing files with all have to have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and AirDrop enabled. Everyone will also have to be logged into iCloud, and have each other set up as Contacts in iCloud. (That's not technically correct, but it's the safest, least frustrating set of circumstances to deal with.) If you have trouble using Contacts Only mode, temporarily switch to Everyone mode (see below), try again, and then switch back.

How to enable iOS 7 AirDrop so everyone can send you files

  1. Bring up Control Center by sliding your finger from the bottom bezel of your iPhone, iPod, or iPad, up onto the screen.
  2. Make sure both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are active.
  3. Tap on AirDrop.
  4. Choose the Everyone option.

Control Center should now say: AirDrop: Everyone.

Note: You and everyone you're sharing files with all have to have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and AirDrop enabled for this option to work.

How to get more help with AirDrop

If you have specific questions about iOS 7 in general, check out our iOS 7 help and discussion forum. For more on AirDrop in specific, check out our ultimate guide:

Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to enable iOS 7 AirDrop on your iPhone or iPad


A bit of a nit I know, but just having iOS 7 alone does not enable airdrop. You must also have a newer device. I don't remember the exact cutoff, but I know that my iPad Retina with 30 pin connector does not have Airdrop.

Yeah, I spent 15 minutes trying to get it to work when iOS7 came out before realizing it wasn't included. Bummer.

Ally, please update the article so others know.

As per

AirDrop is available on iPhone 5 or later, iPad (4th generation), iPad mini, and iPod touch (5th generation) and requires an iCloud account.

You must have both devices on the same wifi. After that, I know I always have to "turn it on" again on both, even when it's been running right before I try to drop something. I also have to be within 10 feet most times.

That is incorrect, neither device needs to be connected to WiFi at all. AirDrop will turn WiFi on, if it is not on when you enable AirDrop. AirDrop will also enable Bluetooth, which is required. The devices need to be within Bluetooth range of each other, as well as WiFi, which depending on surroundings and other devices on the same frequencies varies wildly, so while it may work from 40 feet away at home, it may only be 10 feet elsewhere.

AirDrop creates its own network to transfer files. That is one of the main points of AirDrop, that no existing WiFi network is required.

You can see for more details.

I just tried this out for the first time a couple of days ago, since I was thinking of using it in the classroom to transfer files between multiple iPads I'll have in the room. Both iPads are on the same network (one I set up with an Airport Express), but it was difficult getting the transfer to go either way. Most of the time, one iPad could not see the other. After many tries, repeatedly turning it off and back on, trying, and waiting, eventually it would come up.

I sent a PDF from one iPad to the other. Then, when the receiving iPad asked me which app to open the incoming PDF in, it only gave me a short list with 7 apps in it! I've got about 20 apps on the iPad which can open PDFs, and the one I wanted to use was not in the list. That problem used to exist in Safari back in iOS5, that "Open in" would only give you a small selection of apps to use, and if the one you wanted wasn't in that list, you were out of luck. They fixed it at some point (I believe in iOS6) to use the scrolling window of app icons. Why did they go back to the limited (and ugly) text-only short list?

So, I will not be using AirDrop at this time in my classroom.

I'm really happy Apple added this feature to iOS7. Now, it's so much easier to transfer photos/videos to other Apple devices.

There is a far better option if you have a 4S like I do. That is - Go into your Camera Roll, Select the images you want to "send" to your Mac... select as many as you like... then hit next... you will be given sending options, like copy, email etc... select iCloud -> then name the "Stream" Something easy... as you are about to create a link to your Mac or to a Person with a Mac or iPhone... that you can from now on just ADD photos to the stream and they instantly get them at their end... then after naming the stream - select the account or user you want to send to... i selected my iCloud Apple ID on my Mac... and hit send... then go to your Mac and open IPhoto... it will not take long... only a few seconds... and thats immediately a huge advantage as all the other methods take forever... then you are notified that there is a stream being shared - do you want to accept ? ... accept and viola... you have the entire list of photos shared from your iPhone to your Mac in no time at all... you can add any images and they instantly appear... remove any from the sender end only and they instantly vanish.

Good article, but cant get "AirDrop: Contacts Only" to work for love nor money - only the "everyone" option which is a security no-no obviously. Devices are ipad air with ios 8 and iphone 5c with ios 8. The questions is:
1) how do I see if they are logged into icloud?
2) how do I add a contact to icloud?
3) what should the contact contain, as both devices are logged in as the same user anyway?