Why Can’t I Airdrop to My MacBook?

AirDrop is a useful feature for Macbook users, allowing us to share files between all of our Apple devices – primarily Mac, iPad and iPhone. But, occasionally, it can stop working properly.

Let’s look at the most common reasons why AirDrop might not be working on your MacBook, and then more importantly, how to fix them.

Check Your Device Compatibility and Settings

Let’s run through the simple stuff first. It’s important that you ensure that both devices are compatible with AirDrop.

Obviously you may assume this if they’ve both Apple devices, but older models may not actually be compatible with Airdrop.

AirDrop works on Macs running OS X Yosemite or later and on iOS devices running iOS 7 or later. You can find Airdrop within your Finder or the Control Center on Macbooks.

So, make sure you’re updated to the later operating system if you want to make sure you can Airdrop.

Ensure Airdrop is enabled

If your devices meet these requirements, the next step is to check the settings and make sure that Airdrop is switched on. To do this on Your MacBook:

1. Open ‘Finder.’

2. Choose ‘AirDrop’ from the sidebar.

airdrop-in-finder

3. Ensure that ‘Allow me to be discovered by:’ is set to ‘Everyone’ or ‘Contacts Only.’

airdrop-share-everyone

You can adjust Airdrop settings to suit your preferences, but of course you need to ensure that you’ve added the person to your contacts if you select Contacts only.

Ensure Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Are Enabled

Once you’ve made sure that Airdrop is both turned on and available to connect to for others, we need to ensure that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are switched on too. AirDrop relies on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to transfer files.

You can do this from clicking on the Control Center icon from your Apple menu, and make sure that both your Bluetooth is switched on, and you’re connected to a secure network.

wifi-bluetooth

Even if you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network, these features need to be enabled on both devices. Check that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned on and not in airplane mode.

Is Your MacBook’s Firewall Blocking AirDrop?

Your MacBook’s firewall settings might be preventing AirDrop connections – this could be due to the restrictions or rules set in the firewall configuration, which are designed to block certain types of network traffic To check this:

1. Go to ‘System Settings’ from your Apple menu.

2. Select ‘Network.’

3. Click on the ‘Firewall’ tab.

network-firewall

4. If the firewall is on, toggle this to off and ensure ‘Block all incoming connections’ is not selected.

If you find Airdrop not working because of your Firewall settings, it’s worth changing them temporarily so you can Airdrop files between your devices.

Check Proximity and Disable Personal Hotspot

AirDrop requires the devices to be within 30 feet (about 9 meters) of each other – otherwise, the Apple devices won’t be able to connect.

Just like you need to be within a specific distance of a router for your Wi-Fi to work, it’s the same for Airdrop too.

Another thing to consider is that if you are using a Personal Hotspot on your iPhone, AirDrop might not work.

A Personal Hotspot typically doesn’t have a strong internet connection in comparison to direct Wi-Fi connections. So, make sure you’re connected to a network, and then try again.

Make sure your devices are unlocked

Though your Macbook may be on, it’s important that the other device you’re connecting to is not only switched on, but also unlocked. With other Apple devices, all you need to do here is enter your pincode or fingerprint sensor to open up the lock screen.

If your Apple device is locked, then you may find Airdrop is unable to connect to it.

Restart Devices and Reset Network Settings

If you’ve run through all of the above to no avail, a simple restart of your devices can solve the issue. You can switch your devices on and off to do this.

If that doesn’t work, try resetting network settings on your Macbook. You can do this by going into System Settings, and then selecting Network.

network-wifi

Then, open up the menu on your network by selecting the three dots menu next to your Wi-Fi network, and select the Forget This Network option.

forget-this-network-toggle

To do this on an iOS device or an iPadOS device, go to the Settings app then ‘General’ > ‘Reset’ > ‘Reset Network Settings.’ Remember, this will erase all saved Wi-Fi networks and passwords.

Conclusion

The truth is that troubleshooting AirDrop issues can be frustrating, but it’s usually possible to fix Airdrop by running through the above – these steps should cover the most common problems you may have with Airdrop, anyway.

If you’ve tried everything and still can’t get AirDrop to work, consider reaching out to Apple Support for further assistance.

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Abby

Full-time writer & Apple fangirl. Currently running: 16" Macbook Pro w/ 64GB RAM & M1 Max. Already wants to upgrade to the M3 😫😭

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