AirDrop not working? Here are some tips to make it work again

AirDrop is an integral part of Apple’s ecosystem. It allows users to easily and securely transfer files between iPhones, iPads and Macs. Like any other software, it can also malfunction at times, but there are a few troubleshooting tips that can help you fix the AirDrop not working issue.

fix AirDrop not working issue

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AirDrop-compatible devices

AirDrop is Apple’s proprietary method of transferring files or data between two Apple devices locally. The feature uses Bluetooth to connect initially, while Wi-Fi is used to transfer files between devices. Apple first released the feature on Macs in 2008, and in 2013, it was added to iOS.

For the feature to work, both devices must support AirDrop. Thus, the first tip to fix the AirDrop not working issue is to check if both devices support the feature or not. Here is the list of Macs that are compatible with AirDrop:

  • Mac Pro (early 2009 with AirPort Extreme or newer)
  • iMac (early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook (late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (mid-2010 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (late 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (late 2008 or newer)

These iOS devices support AirDrop:

  • All devices running iOS 7 or later and having a Lightning port

Sometimes it could happen that AirDrop won’t work even if both devices support it. Such a situation could arise if you have older hardware. If this is the case, there is not much you can do about it. Still, you can try these tips to fix the AirDrop not working issue.

How to fix the AirDrop not working issue

Check for airplane mode– Make sure that airplane mode is turned off when you use AirDrop mode. If you see an airplane icon on the top of your iPhone or iPad screen, it means airplane mode is on. To disable it, go to the control center and tap on the airplane icon. Now check if AirDrop is working or not, if not, then try the next tip.

Disable Do Not Disturb – Make sure that Do Not Disturb (DND) mode is disabled on your iOS and macOS devices. If the mode is enabled, notifications are silenced. Thus, it is better to turn it off. To disable DND on an iOS device, go to Settings > Do Not Disturb and turn it off. On a Mac, click on the menu icon and then turn off the switch next to “Do Not Disturb.”

Disable Personal Hotspot – Since both AirDrop and a Personal Hotspot need Wi-Fi to work, it is better to turn off Personal Hotspot when you are using AirDrop. To disable it, go to Settings > Personal Hotspot, and turn it off. On the Mac, click on the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar and then disconnect your system from the Personal Hotspot.

Check Bluetooth settings – As said above, AirDrop uses Bluetooth initially to establish a connection, so make sure that both devices are within 30 feet of each other. If there is any physical obstacle between the devices, such as a concrete wall, then try to bring them closer together to boost the connectivity. Additionally, make sure that Bluetooth is enabled on both devices.

If these common troubleshooting tips fail to fix the AirDrop not working issue, then you should try these tricks specific to AirDrop.

Check device’s discoverability

Check if your device is discoverable on AirDrop – The AirDrop feature has a discovery setting to control the devices that can see your device. Using the setting, you can block devices from appearing or allow some devices to see it. There are three options under the discovery settings:

Off – Your device won’t be visible to anyone.

Contacts Only – Only those in your Contacts app will be able to see your device.

Everyone – All nearby devices with AirDrop enabled will be able to see your device.

It is better to choose the “Everyone” option when you are using AirDrop. To check the discoverability of your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > General > AirDrop. Now tap on “Everyone.” On the Mac, go to Open Finder > AirDrop. Now select “Everyone” under “Allow me to be discovered by.”

Check File type support – The files you are sending may not be supported by your device. You may also get an error when you are sending multiple files of varying formats together. For example, sending an image file and PDF together may return an error. To avoid this error, send one file type at a time and avoid sending files of different formats, such as images, web links, and docs, at one go.

Awake AirDrop devices – If your device is asleep, then AirDrop may fail. Thus, your iOS device must be active, and your Mac must not be asleep when using AirDrop. Press the Sleep/Wake button to awaken your iOS device, and on your Mac, press any key to awake it.

You can also refer to this video:



About the Author

Aman Jain
Aman is MBA (Finance) with an experience on both Marketing and Finance side. He has worked as a Risk Analyst for AIR Worldwide, and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. Favorite pastimes include watching science fiction movies, reviewing tech gadgets, playing PC games and cricket. - Email him at amanjain@valuewalk.com