Fix AirDrop Not Working on iPhone / iPad with Easy Troubleshooting Tips
AirDrop is the easy to use direct file sharing protocol built into iOS and Mac OS X which allows for sending and receiving things between iPhones, Macs, iPads, and iPod touch. While AirDrop usually works without a hitch, sometimes there can be problems with AirDrop, and on the worst occasions AirDrop will not work at all. If you discover AirDrop to not be working at all, read on for some troubleshooting tips on how to fix the problem so that you can share files wirelessly and easily between iOS devices again.
Before anything else, be sure you update iOS system software, as the latest versions include bug fixes that may address the problems you’re having with AirDrop directly. You can update iOS by backing up the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, then going to Settings > General > Software Update and choosing to download and install an available update if found. Additionally, if AirDrop is not showing up in iOS Control Center at all it is usually because the feature isn’t enabled, but sometimes it’s more complex than that, in which case the below troubleshooting methods will help to fix the problem.
Fixing AirDrop Failures & AirDrop Not Working in iOS
When AirDrop is not working in iOS at all, the AirDrop button often will not do anything, or sometimes if the feature is turned on the device doesn’t appear to others that are nearby. In those situations, try the following remedies:
- Open Control Center and disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch (this is temporary)
- Reboot the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch by holding down the Power and Home buttons until you see the Apple logo on screen
- When the device powers back up, open Control Center again, this time tap on the “AirDrop” button
- Choose “Everyone” from the list of who to broadcast AirDrop to (you can choose AirDrop for Contacts Only if you wish and you know for certain the person you wish to AirDrop with is in your contacts list, but using Everyone is much more reliable for troubleshooting purposes) – this will automatically re-enable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
- Now attempt to use AirDrop again through Sharing, it should work fine
Once you are finished using AirDrop, you’ll want to go back to Control Center and turn the feature off, otherwise the device will continue to be available to everyone who happens to be looking for it (not turning off AirDrop to Everyone has led to some shenanigans at public coffee shops and libraries as I’m sure you can imagine, so it’s best to disable or return to Contacts Only when finished transferring with the protocol).
This toggle off, reboot, and AirDrop Everyone trick has resolved AirDrop sharing issues for iPhone and iPad for a long time, it’s reliable and it almost always works assuming the iOS devices are running modern versions of software, there are no hardware problems (i.e. the iPhone didn’t take an extended bath in salt water), and assuming Restrictions are not enabled for AirDrop.
Remember, if AirDrop simply isn’t showing up, it’s probably because it has been disabled in settings. That also has an easy solution, though separate from the troubleshooting here.
AirDrop Not Working Between iOS and OS X?
Using AirDrop between iOS and OS X should work flawlessly as long as the devices (the Mac as well as the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch) are all nearby to one another, they are running current versions of iOS and OS X respectively, and assuming they all have the feature enabled. If all of this is true and you still encounter AirDrop not working in iOS when trying to send or share with a Mac, try placing the Mac in AirDrop compatibility mode, which may resolve the issue with some particular hardware. Likewise, if you regularly use Compatibility Mode, try exiting and returning to normal AirDrop mode on the Mac to insure a connection can be found. Sometimes it’s just a matter of trial and error when sharing between the two Apple OS’s.
Something else to keep in mind, even though the devices will enable wi-fi and Bluetooth, the devices don’t actually need to be on a wi-fi network for AirDrop to work. This is because no networking is required with AirDrop, as it creates an instant temporary ad-hoc network on the fly between, say, two iPhones, or an iPad and an iPhone, or an iPhone and a Mac with OS X.
Have any other issues with AirDrop? Fixes for AirDrop not working as intended? Some general questions or troubleshooting tips for AirDrop? Let us know in the comments.