How to Access AirDrop on iOS 16 Control Center

Nov 18, 2017 - 15 Comments

Using AirDrop in iOS 11 Control Center

You might be wondering where AirDrop went in iOS 16, iOS 15, iOS 14, iOS 13, iOS 12, and iOS 11 Control Center, and you’re probably not alone. AirDrop allows for rapid wireless transfer of pictures and files between iOS devices or Macs, and is one of the more convenient features available on the Apple platforms. Many users quickly enable and access AirDrop through Control Center on their iPhone or iPad, but with iOS 11 you may have noticed that AirDrop is no longer in Control Center… at least initially. While it may be hidden now, enabling AirDrop is still possible from Control Center for iOS 16 through iOS 11 on iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 13, iPhone 12, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS, XR, XS Max, iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 7, and all other iPhone models, as well as cellular iPad devices. Once you learn how to access it you’ll discover toggling AirDrop from Control Center is otherwise just as easy to enable or disable as before.

Note that while AirDrop is hidden in Control Center on iPhone and iPod touch with iOS 11 and later, AirDrop is always visible in the Control Center of non-cellular iPad with iOS 11. This has led some users to think AirDrop is no longer supported or possible on their iPhone models, but it it is, it’s just hidden behind another setting now. Why is AirDrop hidden? Most likely that is because of space constraints on the smaller iPhone screen. Thus, this tip applies mostly to iPhone, cellular iPad models, and iPod Touch users, since AirDrop is easier to find on iPad Control Center.

How to Access AirDrop in Control Center for iOS 16, iOS 15, iOS 14, iOS 13, iOS 12, and iOS 11

For iPhone, cellular iPad, and iPod Touch, here’s how you can access and enable or disable AirDrop from Control Center:

  1. Swipe to open Control Center on the iPhone as usual (swipe up from bottom of screen on most devices, swipe down from top right corner on iPhone X)
  2. Hard press (3D Touch)* on the networking square of Control Center, this is where you see the buttons for Airplane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Cellular
  3. Hard press the networking section of Control Center to access AirDrop in iOS 11

  4. An expanded networking control panel will appear on screen in Control Center, revealing AirDrop
  5. Now tap the AirDrop button
  6. Tap on the AirDrop button in expanded Control Center of iOS 11

  7. Choose your AirDrop setting as usual:
    • Receiving Off – turns off AirDrop receiving on the iPhone
    • Contacts only – enables AirDrop only for people on your Contacts list
    • Everyone – turns on AirDrop receiving from anyone within proximity of AirDrop

    Choose your AirDrop setting in iOS 13 Control Center

  8. Swipe out of Control Center as usual with your new AirDrop setting in place

* The 3D Touch is necessary for iPhone models that support the pressure sensitive touching on screen, whereas models without 3D Touch will require a long press to access the networking Control Center options instead.

That’s it, now you can use AirDrop as you normally would.

There are many ways to use AirDrop to send and receive files, in between iOS devices, AirDrop from Mac to iOS, and iOS to Mac. It’s probably the easiest way to send and receive files between other users on an Apple device.

The above approach applies to iPad cellular models as well, but note that with non-cellular iPad devices the AirDrop setting is always visible because the cellular toggle isn’t there in Control Center.

AirDrop visible in Control Center for iPad in iOS 11

The video below demonstrates accessing AirDrop through Control Center on iPhone X but it applies to all other iPhone models and cellular iPad devices as well:

Where is AirDrop in Control Center on iPhone or iPad with iOS 16, iOS 15, iOS 14, iOS 13, ipadOS 16, ipadOS 15, iPadOS 13, iOS 12, and iOS 11?

To quickly review, AirDrop is located in Control Center in iOS 13, iPadOS 13, iOS 11, and iOS 12 in one of two ways depending on the capability of the device:

  • On iPhone, and cellular iPad models: 3D Touch on the networking sections (where wi-fi, Bluetooth, buttons are located), then choose the AirDrop button from the revealed pop-up menu
  • On non-cellular iPad, and iPod touch: find AirDrop in Control Center as usual by looking for the concentric circles button

Because AirDrop is hidden behind other networking options on iPhone and LTE iPad models, some users think the feature has been removed. It has not, AirDrop is in Control Center, just tucked behind other settings.

How to Enable or Disable AirDrop in iOS 16 / 15 / 14 / 13 / 12 / 11 via Settings

If using 3D Touch or a long press on the networking section of Control Center is too cumbersome, then recall that you can always enable or disable AirDrop from the Settings app of iOS as well, and this applies to all devices, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

  1. Open the “Settings” app on iOS
  2. Tap on “General” then go to “AirDrop”
  3. Choose your AirDrop setting:
    • Receiving Off
    • Contacts Only
    • Everyone
  4. Exit Settings with the AirDrop preference set

Whether you toggle AirDrop from Settings or Control Center does not matter, the end result is the same and it’s either enabled or disabled.

That should help to answer some of the questions out there about using and accessing AirDrop in iOS 16, iOS 15, iOS 14, iOS 13, iOS 11, and iOS 12. Perhaps in future versions of iOS users will have a choice to have a dedicated AirDrop toggle immediately available in Control Center, like it used to be in prior versions of the system software. In the meantime, just remember to hard-press the networking square of Control Center to find AirDrop settings.

AirDrop is a great feature for iPhone, iPad, and Mac, you can find more AirDrop tips here if interested.


Related articles:

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


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Karla Z says:

    Thank you!!!!

  2. Gwendolyn Heringer says:

    I was given a iPhone6 plus that has a cracked screen that want come on because it has to have a new LED screen because the screen is so cracked it won’t turn on so I can’t turn off the I cloud so I can get it fixed and put in my name as it is my friend had it so long tore up she doesn’t remember the phone number password or login name I have the imei number and it doesn’t show the phone to be lost or stolen but I can’t get it changed over to my name and then turn off the I cloud so I can get everything erased off the phone can you please help me

  3. John Hollis says:

    After trying for days to load High Sierra onto my Mac Pro 2012, I finally took out all the PCI cards and extra hard drives and SSD’s and unplugged everything except one hard drive with EL Capitain, the screen and a wired keyboard and mouse. In particular, I replaced the video card with an old ATI single slot RV 630 256Mb hoping that it was an EFI model that I heard was necessary for the Firmware to work. For good measure of simplification I replaced my 16GB memory sticks with 2GB ones. Installation worked perfectly, but was several hours long.

  4. MG says:

    I arrived here because my Airdrop stopped working on every one of my devices about a week ago (pretty much the same time that my iMac received the High Sierra update). I use Airdrop daily. It is very convenient. I have been using it for over two years, without a single hiccup. It is crazy that I have four iOS devices, and my iMac, and not one of them can see each other right now. I used to see every device. I have looked around the internet, and I have not seen a solution, but I suppose this is not an issue affecting tons of people right now. So it looks like a tech support call is on the horizon!

  5. Peggy VanDyke says:

    I still haven’t received iOS 11 for my iPad. Updates keeps telling me I am updated. How can I get it??

    • Louie says:

      Which model do you have? iOS 11 is available only for the first ipad air, the ipad mini 2 and all devices newer than those. So if you have anything older, iOS 10.3.3 is the last you’ll ever get.

  6. Dirk says:

    >>>arrow fetish is a pain in the butt<<<

  7. billgr0248 says:

    After finally getting into Control Center:

    I am unable to tap on the AirDrop icon to change/highlight it. Do I need to do something else to enable AirDrop on my iPhone 7S? Nothing shows up in preferences.

    • Louie says:

      You need to tap and hold (or 3D touch on iphone 6s or later) on the networking section to reveal the airdrop button. The networking section is the section containing the ✈️ airplane mode, cellular data, wifi and bluetooth buttons.

    • Louie says:

      You may also want to go to settings>general>airdrop and check there if it is enabled.

    • Louie says:

      Also note that airdrop isn’t a on/off or connect/disconnect switch like the others. Instead, it has three settings to choose from: ‘receiving off’, ‘contacts only’ or ‘everyone’. You should be seeing this options when you tap the airdrop button in the control center and also in settings>general>airdrop. Just choose tap on a setting other than ‘receiving off’ and the button should highlight in blue.

    • Louie says:

      Finally, if you have the restrictions feature turned on, check to make sure one of those restrictions is not disabling airdrop. Just go to settings>general>restrictions.

  8. Richard "Dick" Warner says:

    Re: Airdrop on IOS 11
    You say “Swipe as usual…”
    Not everyone knows what is “usual”!
    I swiped 6 or 8 different ways before finally finding the Control Center.
    It would have been helpful if you had said something like:
    “Swipe up from the bottom of the screen…”

    • Karn says:

      AirDrop is in Control Center, hidden behind another section which has no suggestion it is there. The, how do you get to Control Center at all? Well now you have to swipe up to get to Control Center on all iPhone and iPad models, except for iPhone X, where you swipe down but only from the top right. Lack of consistency and obviousness to access key features is bizarre in iOS. UI is how it works… someone seems to have forgotten that lesson from the great Steve Jobs.

  9. Louie says:

    Note that, as shown in the screenshot shown in step 4, the expanded networking control panel also reveals a new Personal Hotspot button that was never present in control center before ios 11.

    Personal hotspot allows to share the internet connection of an iphone or cellular ipad by turning it into a portable wifi hotspot for other wifi compatible devices to connect to.

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