AirDrop Not Showing Up in iOS Control Center? This is the Easy Fix

Feb 1, 2016 - 15 Comments

AirDrop in iOS - how to fix it if it not showing up, or if AirDrop is not working in iOS

AirDrop is a great file sharing protocol for iOS and OS X that allows users to quickly and easily send files, photos, contacts, and other data back and forth between iPhones, iPads, iPod touch, and Mac OS X. But sometimes AirDrop doesn’t show up at all in iOS, which obviously prevents the feature from working to share anything let alone find someone to share it with. The AirDrop feature not showing up in Control Center is one of the most common problematic issues with AirDrop in iOS, but usually it’s an easy fix.

We’re going to assume your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch is running the latest version of iOS, if not you should update it before going further by going to Settings > General > Software Update, because iOS updates frequently resolve bugs while also insuring greater compatibility with other devices running the same version. For best results with AirDrop, you’ll typically want each device running the latest version of system software available for it.

Fix for AirDrop Not Showing Up in iOS Control Center

There are a few potential reasons for AirDrop not being visible, but assuming you have an iOS version which supports AirDrop as any modern release does, here’s the most common resolution for when AirDrop is not showing up on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch within the iOS Control Center:

  1. Open the Settings application in iOS and go to “General”
  2. Now go to “Restrictions” and enter the devices passcode if requested
  3. Look under the Restrictions list for “AirDrop” and be sure the switch is toggled in the ON position
  4. Fix AirDrop not showing up in iOS

  5. Exit out of Settings and open Control Center again, AirDrop will be visible
  6. Fixed AirDrop not showing up in iOS as intended

Here’s the before and after, before with AirDrop not showing up and therefore not able to work at all (since it’s not enabled), and after with AirDrop no longer restricted, as the feature has been effectively enabled and is now allowed to work as intended:

AirDrop not showing up in iOS is easy to fix

Now return to Control Center, flip the feature on, and AirDrop should work for sharing without incident. If you set AirDrop to Contacts Only for privacy purposes, you may want to switch AirDrop into ‘Everyone’ mode temporarily so that it won’t have a problem finding someone nearby.

Set AirDrop to be available to Everyone

Just be sure to turn AirDrop back off or back to “Contacts” again once you are finished using it.

Sometimes users may need to reboot an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to get AirDrop to show up consistently after doing this, but it should appear immediately without a system restart. You may be wondering why AirDrop would be in the restrictions section if you didn’t disable the feature there, but there isn’t always a clear answer to this, and I’ve seen multiple iOS devices where AirDrop was effectively disabled in iOS by having the Restriction turned on. Simply toggling it off allows AirDrop to appear in Control Center, and to work for sharing again in most cases.

Have any other AirDrop tips for iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch? Let us know in the comments.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


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  1. John says:

    Since about November AirDrop has worked very reliably between my iPad Pro and MacBook Pro. Before that i used it between a MacBook Pro and an iPad Air. Sometimes the iPad icon wouldn’t appear. Cycling Bluetooth off then on usually fixed this.

    It is a great feature which I use everyday.

  2. Ted says:

    Is airdrop available on ipad2?

    • AirFlop says:

      AirDrop must be enabled and it has to work, then it will work.

      But, since Ted is starting the questions. Can I use AirDrop with my iPod 1st gen scroll wheel and Macintosh PowerPC 6100? Anyone know if AirDrop works from iPad to Coffee Machine? I put iOS on the coffee cup with a sticker, not sure which version, but it’s hot.

    • Amaizn says:

      Ted, did you try the instructions in the article because it details how to get AirDrop to show up if you can’t find it on your iPad Air 4. Good deal for iOS!

  3. Larry says:

    This is nice if AirDrop shows up to be turned on. What about when it’s not there to begin with? I believe this question was asked above but nobody has answered it yet.

    • Rin Tin says:

      Larry, did you read the article? I just read this article and it was specifically about what to do when AirDrop does not appear to begin with. Here, I just found it, let me point you to the article about what to do when AirDrop is not showing up to begin with:

      Aside from that, if AirDrop isn’t showing up on your iPhone Toaster for example, it may not be compatible. I don’t have AirDrop for my bagels either, kind of a disappointment! Make Bagels Great Again!!


      – Ralphy Cruz the Canadian from Cuba

  4. John Gazurian says:

    Airdrop doesn’t seem to work from my desktop running Maverick to any of my iOS devices.

    • Rin Tin says:

      That sounds about right, old system software doesn’t usually have new features or as much compatibility. The second paragraph of this article directly addresses running old versions of system software being less compatible: “For best results with AirDrop, you’ll typically want each device running the latest version of system software available for it.”

      If you want to use AirDrop between Mac and iPhone, El Captain is going to work better with iOS 9 than some dusty old toaster from 1852. I would recommend a new Mac and a new iPhone, works for me every time.

  5. John Gazurian says:

    When I launch airdrop from my mac, none of my iOS devices show up. I just get the message to ask other users to activate airdrop. I have no trouble using airdrop between my iOS devices though.

  6. Mike says:

    Make sure your devices meet these requirements.

  7. Vjk says:

    AirDrop was not showing up on my new iPad. Checked apple. Com no help. Thanks. You helped.

  8. Nick says:

    All these steps didn’t work

    • Imogene says:

      All these steps worked to fix AirDrop not showing up in Control Center every time, thanks! Nick is doing something wrong.

  9. James says:

    Finally, after trawling numerous websites all with the same crap ‘log out of icloud/do a hard reset/toggle bluetooth’ advice – THIS is the fix that has actually sorted out the airdrop.

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