I get asked all of the time about the best way to transfer photos, videos and other files from an iPhone to a Mac. I tell them I like using AirDrop, but it can be finicky to use at times.
First, AirDrop uses Bluetooth to set up a peer-to-peer wireless network, so both your Bluetooth and your Wi-Fi need to be turned on. Go into System Preferences from the Apple menu (top-left) and then select Network. To the left, select Wi-Fi. Now, to the right, turn on your Wi-Fi and if possible, connect it to your wireless network. Click “Apply” and then go back to the main menu in System Preferences.
Select Bluetooth. In the box that opens, to the left, if it states your Bluetooth is off, turn it on now by clicking the button. At the bottom of the box, checkmark to show Bluetooth in the menu bar.
Next, go to your iPhone and in Settings, select Wi-Fi. Turn it on and if possible, connect your iPhone to your wireless network. Once you are connected, go into Bluetooth and turn on your Bluetooth by sliding the button to the right.
Let’s go into the Photos app on your iPhone and show you how this works. Once you are in Photos, go to the All Photos view. At the top-right, touch “Select.” You can now select multiple photos to send by touching them and a checkmark appears on the lower right of the photo. For now, just touch one so we can see if the file will transfer properly. After one of your photos is selected, touch the “Action” (Share) icon, which is the box with the arrow pointing upwards located at the bottom-left of your iPhone’s screen. Remember this Share icon as it is usable from most apps on all your Apple devices.
Go to your Mac and open Finder. At the left, select “AirDrop.” Your iPhone icon should eventually appear in the middle Finder pane.
Go back to your iPhone and tap the “AirDrop” icon. The name of your Mac should appear on your iPhone and then tap your device icon and it will indicate “Waiting,” “Sending” and then “Sent.” After it is sent, you can find the file(s) in your Downloads folder on your Mac. In some instances, you can only send a single file instead of selecting an entire folder.
To send files from your Mac to your iPhone (or other devices), go to your Mac and right-click the file you want to transfer, hover over Share, then select AirDrop. In the box that opens, click your iPhone’s name and you may hear some chimes or beeps as it connects and transfers your file. Once it is done it will state “Sent” on the icon on your Mac.
On your iPhone, if it doesn’t open the file automatically, it may ask you to approve the transfer or install an app from the App Store. This is OK to do, so you can view your file. It may ask you to choose from apps that are already installed on your device, such as iBooks, iCloud Drive, or another.
Here’s the finicky part: Even after doing all this, AirDrop still doesn’t work! Don’t give up hope, there are a couple of things I sometimes do to make my AirDrop work correctly. Open your BlueTooth preferences on your Mac and remove all Bluetooth connected devices. On your iPhone, go to Settings and then Bluetooth. Select the “i” in the circle next to each listed device and then select “Forget This Device.” Don’t worry; it’s easy to add them back when you need to use them again. If you are using a keyboard or mouse via Bluetooth, try to transfer the files, but if it doesn’t work, you may need to temporarily use USB connected devices.
For more than 15 years, Scott Lindsay has helped thousands of people better their skills, publishing more than 400 articles about Apple and Microsoft software, the computer and the Internet. You can reach Scott for comments or questions at ScottLindsay@live.com.