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Can I Airdrop Files to a Non-Apple Device or Computer?

Apple Airdrop on MacBook.

What is AirDrop?

AirDrop is a transfer protocol for the Apple ecosystem. It’s not unique to Apple – it’s built into the Bluetooth specification for short-range wireless communications. AirDrop works with Macs, iPhones, iPads, and even the iPod touch. It lets you quickly send files to nearby devices.

You can AirDrop files between devices when they are on the same Wi-Fi network. AirDrop is turned off by default, and that’s a good thing, because if it weren’t off by default, they would bother you with pop-up requests for permission to send files to every device in range. AirDrop only works between Apple devices, so you can’t use it to transfer files between Windows and iPhone, or Android and iPhone.

“AirDrop is one of Apple’s best features”, CNET. When you AirDrop someone a file, an icon representing that person appears on their device. Tap that icon to automatically import the file into the appropriate app, or to send it back to you.

Let’s say, for example, that you are composing an email message on your MacBook Pro and want to send an iPhone photo to someone. Just drag the photo onto the document in your Mail application that you are writing and it will automatically be sent via AirDrop to the person.

The same is true for photos you are copying into iPhoto or Keynote or any other application on your Mac. This is a huge improvement over emailing files back and forth or using a USB flash drive.

It’s also easier than sharing photos with someone by using iCloud Photo Sharing, which requires both parties to be using iCloud in order to share photos. Fortunately, there are other options for transferring a large file from iPhone to Windows, or Android.

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Google Photos and Cloud

Google Photos app on android phone.

One option is to use Google Photos to transfer files between your Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. This method offers a few advantages over AirDrop. First, Google Photos is free. Second, it works over the Internet without the need for a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. Plus, it can upload a huge number of photos and videos in a single session.

Google Photos is pretty straightforward to use. First, download and install the Google Photos app from the Google Play Store or Google Photos page on the Apple App Store. Next, you’ll need to turn on the Google Photos Auto Backup feature on each of your devices.

To do so, open the Google Photos app on one of your devices. Tap Auto Backup > Options > Back up photos. On the Auto Backup screen, tap Back up & sync (iOS) or Back up & sync > Max quality (Android), and tap Back up & sync to confirm.

The other regular cloud providers are also an option, including Amazon and Dropbox, and there are a few newcomers, including Infinit. Infinit offers all the cloud storage basics, including basic sharing and editing of files, as well as a search feature so you can find files easily in the interface.

It’s missing advanced functions, such as setting up shared folders, but overall, it’s a solid cloud storage framework and a good alternative to Dropbox and Google Drive. One downside is that it lacks robust mobile apps for iOS and Android, which means that you can’t upload files from a mobile device or edit them from an Android device.

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Transfer Files Between Mac and iPhone Without Using AirDrop

iPhone with Bluetooth screen against a MacBook.

If you don’t want to use AirDrop on your Apple devices, you can transfer files between your Mac and iPhone using Bluetooth, by simply pairing the two devices.

To set up Bluetooth on both devices, go to your iPhone’s Settings app > Bluetooth. Turn on Bluetooth on your iPhone and Mac. Then, press the iPhone’s On/Off toggle next to Bluetooth to pair the two devices. You’ll need to enter the password on your iPhone and select your Mac. After that, your devices will pair.

Transfer Between Your iPhone and a Computer

Here’s how to share large files between various devices without AirDrop. The first thing you need to do is to get the file onto your computer. The quickest way to do so is to share the file with your computer.

This method won’t work for sharing between two different phones or tablets, but it will work for sharing between a phone and a computer. On your iPhone or iPad, open the file you want to transfer and tap the share icon in the upper right corner. Each app will have a different icon for sharing.

For example, photos are shared via the share icon in the bottom right corner. Select ‘Copy to’, then choose ‘Computer’. If you have any security software installed on your computer such as a firewall or antivirus, it may pause the connection and display a message asking whether you want to allow this connection.

Using Bluetooth and Windows

Bluetooth icon on keyboard.

If your PC isn’t paired with a device, Windows 10 will automatically search for devices that are in range. If Bluetooth is turned off, you will see the Device Discovery page, where you can turn Bluetooth on. You can also scan for devices using the Windows key + B keyboard shortcut.

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Once you’ve located your Android phone, click it, and then click Pair. Next, tap Pair on your Android phone to pair with your computer. Once you’re paired with your Android phone, you can send files to and from your phone.

Click the Links icon in the Bluetooth & other devices settings to view the files that are available to send, or tap Bluetooth from the Action Center to open the Send files to a device screen. If the device you’re sending files to isn’t on, the files will be sent when the other device connects via Bluetooth.

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