How to use AirDrop to instantly share files from your iPhone or iPads

How to AirDrop files between iPhone and iPad

AirDrop lets you quickly and easily transfer files between iPhones and iPads (and Macs). It uses Bluetooth Low Energy to broadcast, discover, and negotiate connections, and point-to-point Wi-Fi to transfer information. That makes it power efficient, fast, and secure. When you're using it between iPhones and iPads, you can AirDrop photos, videos, contacts, Passbook passes, Voice Memos, Map location, and any and everything else that appears on a Share sheet.

How to enable or disable AirDrop on your iPhone or iPad

  1. Launch Control Center by swiping your finger up from the bottom bezel of your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Make sure both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are active.
  3. Tap on AirDrop.
  4. Choose the Contacts Only or Everyone.

Note: If you choose Contacts Only, you and anyone you want to share with needs to be logged into iCloud. For privacy reasons, Apple won't share your contacts with another device to determine if there's a match, it'll check both your iCloud accounts instead. Then, if there's a match, it'll show you your own version of the contact on your own device. That way, no data gets leaked.

To disable AirDrop, repeat the same steps and choose Off.

How to transfer files between iPhone and iPad with AirDrop

  1. Find the file you'd like to send with AirDrop.
  2. Tap the Share button.
  3. Choose the contact you'd like to AirDrop to.

Once it finishes you should see a Sent message underneath it.

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior 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 use AirDrop to instantly share files from your iPhone or iPads

21 Comments

As noted in yesterday's Airdrop article's comments, this isn't true for everyone: "If your iPhone or iPad is running iOS 7, you have the ability to share files with AirDrop."

AirDrop is not available for the 3rd generation iPad, something that took me quite awhile to puzzle out why it was not working.

renegad3 says:
As per Apple.com:
AirDrop is available on iPhone 5 or later, iPad (4th generation), iPad mini, and iPod touch (5th generation) and requires an iCloud account.

Shame that airdrop OS and iOS don't work together. Took me a while to work out and I think apple should make it clearer.

It does as long as you have compatible devices. 2012 or later Mac running Yose and iPhone 5 or later, iPad 4 or later, iPad mini any generation, or iPod touch 5th gen

The other issue with it, is it uses the iCloud account. My wife and I share my iTunes account for things like Find Your iPhone and App store purchases, but she has her own for iMessage and Facetime. However, it defaults to the main account used on the device, which is mine. And this is true for all our other iPhones and iPads. So we just see my id show up multiple times when we try to send something between devices, not knowing which is really the device we want.

If defaults to whatever is signed in under iCloud in settings - you should both have your own. Share an iTunes ID if you'd like but under iCloud, it should be your own. If you want t track each other with find my iPhone then enable family sharing.

Ally..... I absolutely love your Hot To: posts, but find it strange that "How to enable Airdrop" and "How to send a file using Airdrop" are not included in the same post.

I wish I could airdrop with my iPhone 4S, but I do use it between my iPad and my iPhone 5s. Both with the same iCloud/iTunes account... But they show up properly when using airdrop.

Sent from the iMore App

I didn't realise u don't need an internet connection to send or receive files using air drop. I met up with some old sch friends today and when it was time to exchange addresses I was feeling cool for a second showing my colleague how to activate airdrop on his iphone 5 and then on trying to airdrop from my iphone 5s, I noticed I had no very poor reception and as it didn't seemed to be taking too long, I aborted the process and did the contact exchange the old-fashioned way.

Sent from the iMore App

Allyson I haven't seen this anywhere else yet...but I just noticed on iOS 7.1 (beta 4) that WIFI isn't necessary. AirDrop seems to support LTE as well.

In the first paragraph, you said, "Not only does AirDrop except much larger file transfers..." when I think you meant to use the word "accept".