How to Set Up AirDrop for iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite

Animated picture of cargo plane, parachutists, and crate with a parachute

AirDrop is a feature that was touted as a great way to share files between users, but until recently it wasn’t too useful for getting your own files from one device to another. Since you can now send from an iOS device like the iPhone or iPad to a Mac and vice versa, it’s easier than ever to get pictures and files from one to another.

There are a few steps needed to set up AirDrop, and then a few simple tips to make it work. We’ve outlined both below so you can start using AirDrop and quit emailing pictures and files to yourself.

SEE ALSO: 5 Tips for Using Safari 8 in OS X Yosemite

Using AirDrop From Your Mac

First things first: Make sure you’re running OS X Yosemite on your Mac and iOS 8 on your iPhone or iPad. You also need to make sure you’re using the right hardware. You’ll need at least an iPhone 5 or later, a 4th Gen iPad, an iPad Mini or higher, or a 5th Gen iPod Touch. Any device below these will not do AirDrop this way.

Starting with your Mac, while in Finder click on the Go menu in the OS X menu bar and select AirDrop. (You might also have AirDrop in the Favorites sidebar on the left side of your Finder window.)

Selecting AirDrop from Finder's Go drop-down menu

This will open a new Finder window with AirDrop open. When someone is using AirDrop and is in range, their icon will appear in the window, too.

AirDrop window open in Finder

To send files via AirDrop from your Mac, just drag and drop them onto a user’s image and you will send that file to them.

Now that you’ve set up AirDrop on your Mac, let’s look at your iOS device.

Using AirDrop From Your iPhone or iPad

First, you need to make sure you have AirDrop turned on for your device. To do this, just swipe up on any screen to bring up the Control Center. Tap on AirDrop and select either Contacts Only or Everyone.

Control Center screen on iPhone with AirDrop sharing options

With this selected, your iOS device should now easily see when someone is in range and on AirDrop.

Now that you have set up AirDrop on both your Mac and your iOS device, here’s how to share.

Sharing Files With AirDrop

Starting with your Mac, you can share files simply by dropping them onto a user’s image. With a user image showing in your Mac’s AirDrop window, grab a document, image, audio file, or just about any other type of file that your iOS device can read and drop it on their user picture. You’ll see a blue circle surround the user image while the file is uploading.

To receive a file via AirDrop on your Mac, just have the AirDrop window open. When someone sends you a file it will download automatically to your Downloads folder.

Duplicate contacts killing your productivity? See how Scrubly can help in this 100-second video.

To send files with your iOS device, you need to navigate to the file you want to send, then tap on the Sharing icon, which looks like a box with an arrow coming out of the top. For example, go to a picture you want to share and tap the Share icon. You will see a row of available images to share at the top with the one you were looking at selected. Then if anyone with AirDrop enabled is within range, you will see their icon.

Selecting photos to share via AirDrop on iPhone

Tap the user’s icon to send the file their way. You’ll see a status box appear on your screen, and when the transfer is complete it will disappear.

Notification of photo shared via AirDrop


The process is simple because it’s meant to be a clean, easy way to send files from one user or device to another. You do need to have the AirDrop window open on your Mac for this to work, and your iOS device must be unlocked as well.

On your iOS device, the app associated with the file received will automatically open. This means images will open the Photo app, contacts will open the Contacts app, and Web pages will open Safari.


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