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Airdrop icon.jpg
AirDrop Mac Screenshot.jpg
Developer(s) Apple Inc.
Initial release July 20, 2011; 2 years ago (2011-07-20)
Operating system iOS 7 onwards, Mac OS X Lion (10.7.x) onwards
Platform iPhone 5 onwards, iPad (4th generation) onwards, iPad Mini (1st generation) onwards, iPod Touch (5th generation) onwards, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook, iMac, Mac Mini, Mac Pro
License Commercial proprietary software
Website iOS 7 – AirDrop

AirDrop is an ad-hoc service in Apple's OS X and iOS operating systems, introduced in Mac OS X Lion and iOS 7.[1] Using AirDrop, users can share files with other supported Mac computers and iOS mobile devices without the need of email or mass storage devices.[1] OS X and iOS use different AirDrop protocols and are currently not interoperable.[2] AirDrop in OS X operates over Wi-Fi, whereas the iOS implementation utilizes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

On OS X, AirDrop is available through a special folder in Finder, and as of OS X 10.8.1 can be accessed through the menu option Go > AirDrop or by pressing Shift+ Cmd+R. For the feature to work, Wi-Fi must be turned on in order for AirDrop to recognize the other device. Also the other device must be in the same AirDrop folder in Finder in order to be able to transfer files. Furthermore files are not automatically accepted, the user receiving party must be willing to accept or decline the transfer.[3] This is done to increase security and prevent others from tracking who is nearby. If for privacy reasons you do not want to use AirDrop you can hide the folder by dragging it out of the sidebar in Finder or you can also go to the Menu Bar > Finder > Preferences > Uncheck AirDrop.

On iOS 7, The feature can be accessed through the Control Center introduced in iOS 7. It is located just below the quick toggles; some users report that the feature is hard to locate but Apple did their best to place it on the most accessible location. Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth must be activated in order for Airdrop to work. There are also a variety of options to increase the security of AirDrop, on activation, you can choose to:

  • Turn off device Discovery,
  • Allow Contacts only to be able to discover your iDevice,
  • Allow everyone to be able to see your iDevice.

Sharing on iOS is a bit different in comparison to the simplicity of OSX, you can only share on AirDrop if the application you are using has a share button. On OSX you simply drag any file or folder and it will send, however on iOS there is a restriction. You would not be able to share music from the iPod app for example.

AirDrop on an iPhone

In both instances AirDrop appears as floating bubbles in the Finder, it will usually show the persons computer name and also their account photo. The design of AirDrop gives it the essence of a military radar type display, however users appear randomly on the AirDrop page and there is no pattern to how near or far away they are.

There is currently no size restriction to how large of a file can be sent over AirDrop, Apple users have reported movie files over 10GB being sent over AirDrop without any problems. A restriction on this system would be that you have to be with in 10 meters of the other person in order for AirDrop to recognize the other party.

AirDrop is not officially supported on older devices (iPhone 4S and below) because of hardware limitations,[4] and can be used only on these models, or newer ones:


Running iOS 7 or newer:[3]

AirDrop can be enabled unofficially on iPad (3rd generation). Although disabled by default, AirDrop can be enabled on this device by jailbreaking the device and installing "AirDrop Enabler 7.0+" from cydia. Note that this procedure is not supported by Apple. [5]

Running Mac OS X Lion (10.7) or newer:

AirDrop is also available on Hackintoshes (generic PCs running Mac OS X) and which have AirDrop-supported Wi-Fi cards, such as Broadcom's 4322/94322. Despite Apple's legal restrictions, developers have found that AirDrop can be enabled on any Macintosh running OS X Lion with a shell command,[6] and will work over Ethernet as well.

See also[edit]

  • Android Beam, a similar technology for Android smart phones (NFC based)
  • Wi-Fi Direct, a similar technology
  • Bonjour, the service discovery protocol employed
  • Shoutr, a free P2P multi-user solution for sharing files among multiple people (Wi-Fi)


  1. ^ a b Nations, Daniel. "What Is AirDrop? How Does It Work?". Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Etherington, Darrell (September 17, 2013). "Apple iOS 7 Review: A Major Makeover That Delivers, But Takes Some Getting Used To". TechCrunch. AOL. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "iOS: Using AirDrop". Apple Inc. September 18, 2013. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  4. ^ "wifi adhoc". Apple Support Communities. 
  5. ^ "AirDrop Port Explaination". Thuchapol. December 27, 2013. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Enable AirDrop Over Ethernet & AirDrop On Unsupported Macs Running OS X". OS X Daily. September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 6, 2013.