What it is: AirDrop is Apple’s name for wireless file sharing between two Macintosh computers, two iOS devices, or a Macintosh and an iOS device.
The traditional way to share files is to copy them on to a USB flash drive and then plug that flash drive into the other computer. This assumes you have a flash drive handy and can plug it into a USB port. When sharing files between two Macintosh computers, that may be possible but you can’t use a flash drive with an iPhone or iPad because they don’t have USB ports. To get around this problem, you can use AirDrop.
The idea behind AirDrop is that you open an AirDrop window on your Macintosh, then drag and drop a file on to the icon that represents the Macintosh, iPhone, or iPad where you want to send the file. In theory this works just fine. In the real world, be prepared to run into problems.
First of all, you have to be using a fairly modern Macintosh running OS X Yosemite or newer. If you want to share files with an iOS device, that iOS device must also be a fairly new model running the latest version of iOS. If you meet this criteria, you must also make sure each device is within 30 feet (9 meters) of each other and have WiFi and Bluetooth turned on because that’s how AirDrop works.
To open the AirDrop window on a Macintosh, just click the Finder icon on the Dock and then choose Go > AirDrop. This will open the AirDrop window similar to what you see above. If you’re trying to share files with an older Macintosh, click on the “Don’t see who you’re looking for?” link in the bottom right corner and this will help AirDrop find an older Macintosh (even if it’s running the latest version of OS X).
On an iOS device, you can use AirDrop by opening the file you want to send (such as a picture or a word processor document) and then click the Share icon, which appears either at the top or bottom of the screen depending on the iOS app you’re using. After tapping the Share icon, you just need to tap on the icon that represents the other AirDrop device that you want to send the file to.
AirDrop works great between Macintosh computers or iOS devices, but if you want to share files with a Windows, Linux, or Android device, you won’t be able to use AirDrop. AirDrop is just one more way Apple makes it easy for multiple Apple products to work together in ways that rival products cannot do as easily.
The next time you need to share files between Apple products and you don’t have a USB flash drive, try using AirDrop. You may find AirDrop is far simpler than you might have thought possible.