AirDrop is an easy way to transfer data between different Apple devices. The special feature: Mobile data or a cable connection are not necessary. But how does Airdrop actually work?

In 2011, Apple introduced a new feature to the Mac on MacOS X Mountain Lion: AirDrop. Two years later, the feature was also available on the iPhone 7.

Since then, users have been able to quickly and easily send content such as photos, music, documents or contacts between devices and share it with other users – without cables. But how exactly does AirDrop work?

AirDrop: This is how Apple’s sharing function works

Before the release of AirDrop, users had to find other ways to either transfer documents from one device to another or send them to other people. To do this, they used external data carriers as well as e-mail or messenger services.

However, these methods are not only cumbersome, they also often have a negative effect on the quality of the data – for example because the image quality is reduced. Users send their objects in the original quality and size via AirDrop. Another advantage: Mobile data is not necessary.

How does AirDrop work?

Technically, AirDrop is a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Users can send documents and data over a distance of up to nine meters between their devices. It doesn’t really matter which network you’re on.

When you enable the AirDrop feature on a device, it first uses Bluetooth to find other nearby devices that have the same feature enabled. They, in turn, send a signal in response to the search query. To do this, they use what is known as Bonjour technology, which automatically recognizes other networks in IP networks. Now you can select from a list with which of the found devices you want to exchange your data.

If you click on the corresponding icon, the devices establish a connection to start the transfer. Initially, the corresponding documents are preferably sent via a network connection – but only if it is available. If this is not the case, a WiFi connection independent of the existing WiFi is established in order to transmit the data directly via this interface.

Here’s how you can send data via AirDrop

If you want to use AirDrop to share photos, documents, and other items with other nearby Apple devices, you must first enable the feature in your settings.

On the device you want to send to, you must also enable the “Contacts only” option when AirDroping. The transfer only works if you have been saved as a contact and your Apple ID has been saved in the contact card. If not, you need to set the AirDrop receive settings to “For everyone”.

You can set your AirDrop reception to Contacts Only or Receive Off at any time to control who can see your device and AirDrop content to you.

How to use AirDrop step by step

  1. Open the content you want to send and tap the “Split” icon or equivalent function.
  2. Now you bet on this AirDrop-Symbol.
  3. Then choose the Contact with whom you want to share your documents. If it is not a person, select the corresponding Apple device.

To protect your data, you can choose whether you want to make your device visible to everyone or only your contacts can see that you have AirDrop enabled. Usually, recipients are also asked to accept the sent objects by clicking on a corresponding button.

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