How to send & receive files on your iPhone and iPad — The complete AirDrop guide

All of Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices available today come with a feature called AirDrop that allows you to seamlessly send and receive files. It is a fast, secure, and easy-to-use method of transferring files like photos, videos, documents, and even links between any two iOS and Mac devices, or sharing them with your family, friends and peers.

Now, if you’re wondering, “Where is AirDrop on iPhone and iPad,” don’t worry. We’ll take you through the step by step process of understanding the AirDrop feature completely and also tell you about the best way to transfer files between devices (Hint: It’s not AirDrop).

What is AirDrop

AirDrop is an excellent alternative to the cumbersome method of sharing files over emails or USB thumb drives, as it avoids duplication of files, does not require internet access, and is compatible with most iOS and Mac devices sold in the last 10 years. Unfortunately, the AirDrop feature is not easy to discover and many iPhone and iPad users are oblivious to its advantages, especially because there’s no app named AirDrop that you can launch and start using. In this detailed AirDrop guide, we’ll help you learn how to find and use AirDrop on iPhone and iPad. Towards the end, we’ll also answer some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about AirDrop.

How to turn on AirDrop on iPhone and iPad

 To start using AirDrop on your iPhone and iPad, first ensure that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled on both the devices between which you want to transfer files. You don’t have to be connected to any particular Wi-Fi network, just ensure that Wi-Fi isn’t disabled. Once Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled, your device is ready to send files via AirDrop.

To receive files via AirDrop, there’s an additional step to confirm. First, open the Control Center panel by swiping down on your screen from the top-right corner of your iPhone or iPad screen. Next, tap and hold on the Wi-Fi icon here until it displays six icons, one of which will be the AirDrop icon. Under the AirDrop icon, it should say “Contacts Only” or “Everyone”. If it says “Receiving Off” instead, tap and hold onto the AirDrop icon and choose any of the other two options. That’s it, your device can now receive files via AirDrop.

Note: If you’re connected to a VPN, you may need to turn it off for AirDrop to work seamlessly.

How to use AirDrop on iPhone and iPad to send and receive files

To transfer files or content on iPhone and iPad, both the sender and receiver must have AirDrop compatible Apple devices. AirDrop was first introduced in 2012 and runs on all iPhones, iPads, and Macs sold in the last decade. If your iPhone and iPad is running iOS 7 or later and the Mac is running macOS Yosemite or later versions, the AirDrop feature is readily available. Just make sure that AirDrop is turned on before proceeding further.

To send a file using AirDrop, tap on the Share button (the rectangle icon with an arrow pointing up) on anything that you want to share. It could be a file attachment from an email, a photo or video from your Photos app, a note, an audio recording, a link from the browser, your location from Google Maps, etc. Once you tap on the Share icon, you should see the AirDrop icon in the share sheet that is displayed.

Tap on the AirDrop icon to see all the people or devices who can receive the file you’re sending. If you don’t see the intended recipient, make sure that their Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled and that their AirDrop setting is set to “Everyone”. If their AirDrop setting says “Contacts Only,” make sure that they have your email address or phone number in their Contacts.

To send the file over AirDrop, just tap on the person or device name that you want to send the file to. Your device will say “Waiting…” for a few seconds as it establishes a connection before initiating the file transfer. At the receiver’s end, the iPhone or iPad will display a preview prompt that the sender is sending X number of files, with the option to Accept or Decline the transfer. Once accepted, the transfer proceeds.

Note: The time taken for the file transfer to complete over AirDrop depends on the size of the file as well as the quality of the Wi-Fi connection.

Where are AirDrop files saved on iPhone and iPad

When receiving files over AirDrop, the destination where the files are saved depends on the file format of the file being transferred. Photos or videos that are natively compatible on iPhone and iPad, such as JPG, PNG, HIEC images, and MOV, MP4, HEVC videos, are automatically saved into the Camera Roll in the Photos app. If you’re sharing a link from Safari, it will automatically open in the browser on the receiver’s device. Notes are saved directly in the Notes app, and similarly other content shared over AirDrop will open or be saved in the respective app.

For other or incompatible file types, the receiving device will see a prompt asking them to choose an app to open the file. The best place to open and save all your AirDrop files is in the Documents app by Readdle.

Documents is the super app for file actions, and comes with a long list of incredible features that help you keep your files organized. The app can handle all kinds of file types. With Documents, you can download videos, read ePUBs, open ZIP files, watch movies, edit PDFs and so much more. Documents gives you the superpowers to do what you want with your files on your iPhone and iPad.

Get Documents for Free from the App Store →

Why Documents Wi-Fi Transfer is the best AirDrop alternative for PCs and Macs

As we hinted at the beginning of this AirDrop guide, there exists a way of transferring files and documents between any two devices that is exceptionally better than AirDrop. It offers many advantages over AirDrop and fixes many of the shortcomings and annoyances associated with using AirDrop. What’s that best AirDrop alternative, you ask? It’s the Wi-Fi transfer feature that is part of the Documents app.

Although AirDrop is an excellent feature, it has its own set of drawbacks:

  • AirDrop only works between Apple devices
  • Works with limited file formats
  • Plagued with connectivity issues and drops — doesn’t always work.
  • Doesn’t work with folders

Send and receive files between iOS devices and PCs or Macs

The Wi-Fi Transfer feature in Documents has several advantages over AirDrop:

  • Send and receive files from PCs and Android devices.
  • Supports all file formats
  • Incredibly fast transfer speeds
  • Built right into the Documents app — the home for all your files.

With Wi-Fi transfer, you can instantly transfer files between your PC, Mac and iPhone, iPad.

Send and receive files between two iOS devices with FileDrop

If you’d like to transfer files instantly between two iOS devices, Documents offers the FileDrop feature. It works like a very powerful version of Apple’s AirDrop feature, allowing you to wirelessly send any type of file from one iOS device to another. FileDrop works with any file format and any file size. You can not only transfer multiple files between devices, but you can also transfer entire folders and FileDrop will copy the contents of the folder without affecting the folder structure. All your files and folders inside the main folder will be copied as is, making this a great way to move files for people who are particular about file organization.

Download Documents for Free to get started!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about AirDrop

What is AirDrop on iPhone?

AirDrops is a fast, secure and easy-to-use feature offered by Apple that allows users to send and receive files & content such as photos, videos, documents, URLs, contact cards, audio recordings, notes, etc. between any two iPhone, iPad and Mac devices.

Where is AirDrop on iPhone?

The AirDrop feature on iPhone is available in the system share sheet that is displayed when you tap on the Share button on your iPhone (the rectangle icon with an arrow pointing up).

How does AirDrop work?

AirDrop works by using Bluetooth to create an adhoc Wi-Fi connection between two devices.

What are the requirements for AirDrop?

AirDrop works on any iOS device running iOS 7 or later or Macs running macOS Yosemite or later versions. Both devices must be within 30 feet of each other for AirDrop to work.

Can I use AirDrop on Android?

No, AirDrop is Apple’s proprietary feature and only works on iPhones, iPads and Macs. For Android, Google has a feature called Nearby Share that works in a similar fashion.

Why is AirDrop not working on iPhone?

Some possible reasons why AirDrop may not work on iPhone or iPad are:

  • Bluetooth or Wi-Fi may have been disabled.
  • One or both devices are running older versions of iOS that do not ship with AirDrop
  • The devices are not within 30 feet of each other.
  • AirDrop receiving may have been set to Contacts only.
  • The file you are sharing may not be compatible with AirDrop.

What are AirDrop alternatives?

The best alternative to AirDrop on your iPhone and iPad is the Documents app with its FileDrop and Wi-Fi Transfer features. Wi-Fi Transfer is free, fast, and also works on PCs and Android devices, while the FileDrop feature is like a more powerful version of AirDrop that has many advantages. Get Documents for Free from the App Store to get started.

Preshit Deorukhkar Preshit Deorukhkar

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