Using AirDrop with OS X Yosemite and iOS

Did you know you can use AirDrop to send files between your iOS device and a Mac running Yosemite (as long as it’s a model from 2012 or later)? You can, and it’s pretty darned handy. What I’ve been doing is using it to share older photos between my Mac and my iPhone as an alternative to plugging in and syncing through the horror—er, I mean, wonder—that is iTunes.

To get everything set up, first note the system requirements for using AirDrop and how to turn it on. You’ll need to be sure that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth aren’t disabled, for starters. To turn on Bluetooth on a Mac, visit System Preferences> Bluetooth; on an iOS device, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to invoke Control Center, and make sure the Bluetooth symbol is highlighted in white.

Also, be certain to toggle on AirDrop itself from Control Center. You can set your preferences for who can attempt to send you files when you do (the choices are Off, Contacts Only, and Everyone).

Once everything is configured properly, check to see if AirDrop is functioning on your Mac by opening a Finder window and clicking on “AirDrop” in the sidebar.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the text in blue at the bottom-left (“Allow me to be discovered by”) will let you configure your privacy settings, just as we did on our iOS devices. But once you’ve turned AirDrop on everywhere, you should see your other devices appear as available to receive.

Hey, that’s me! I can get files from myself! Cool.

Sending files from an iOS device to your Mac is pretty easy, especially if you’re logged in to the same iCloud account on both. When you see the little “Share” arrow on a file, webpage, or what have you, touching it will reveal “AirDrop” as an option at the top of the sharing window:

Tap the person you’d like to AirDrop to, and the item will go! If you do happen to be logged in to the same iCloud account as the device you’re sending to, the receiving Mac will get a notification.

If what you’re sending is a file (and not a webpage), it’ll pop right into the Downloads folder. However, if your iOS device and the receiving Mac are NOT logged in under the same iCloud account, the Mac will get the option to accept or decline the incoming data:

That’s all groovy and high-tech and stuff, but what about sending files the other direction (from a Mac to an iPhone, say)? The process itself isn’t any more complicated, but be aware that you may need to tell your iOS device what to do with the particular file type it’s receiving. Let’s walk through it! To start, pick up the file you want to send (from iPhoto or Finder or whatever) and drop it onto the receiving device’s image within Finder’s AirDrop dialog:

If you’d prefer, you can also right-click a file and choose Share> AirDrop or use the familiar Share arrow (available in places like Safari and Contacts) to pick AirDrop from a list. Whatever blows your skirt up. 

Also, be sure that your iOS device is unlocked, or it won’t show up as available.

As I noted, the choices you have on the iOS device will depend on what file type you’re sending and what apps you have installed. If you AirDrop a picture, for example, your iOS device will just ask you to decline or accept the file, and if you accept, it’ll put the item in your Photos app.

Sending a PDF from my Mac to my iPhone gives me these choices:

And here’s how sending a text file appears (hey, neat, I can send it to Notes!):

For what it’s worth, I’d personally use Dropbox or email to share any non-photo files with my iPhone—but I do like having the AirDrop option! So I’m interested in hearing what you have to say, lovely readers. Will you use AirDrop to move stuff around, or do you find it redundant with the services you’re already using? If you do use AirDrop, what for? 

This tip was originally suggested by the ever-delightful Bryan Mahler