Apple AirDrop is the best way to share all sorts of files between two Apple devices locally. It’s fast and usually reliable but, sadly, that’s not always the case. Some users report that AirDrop keeps always Waiting and they can’t seem to make it work. Don’t worry, we got you covered with a few solutions we found online. Big thanks to Reddit and Apple Forum users who suggested them.
Why is my Apple AirDrop not working?
If Apple AirDrop isn’t working, restart both included devices, check AirDrop permission in General Settings, and inspect Content & Privacy Restrictions. Alternatively, turn off VPN (and Firewall on MacOS), remove and add the Apple ID of the sender/recipient in Contacts, or reset Network Settings.
If none of these steps helped, sign out of your Apple ID and sign in again or, finally, go for the Reset All Settings option. You can find detailed instructions on what you need to do below.
1. Restart both devices
The first thing you should do is reboot both included Apple devices. This, at least temporarily, solved the problem for some users. Although, based on reports, AirDrop stops working again after some time. An additional thing to try is sending files one by one instead of sending a bundle. AirDrop doesn’t have a file size limit but the transfer might be a bit slower if you try exchanging a lot of files at once. Even the small ones. Make sure that you are connected to a Wi-Fi network (not cellular) and that Bluetooth is enabled.
Also, make sure that the sender and recipient have each other in the Contacts if your AirDrop settings are set to Contact Only. Or the recipient can navigate to Settings > General > AirDrop and choose Everyone for 10 Minutes.
In addition, navigate to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Allowed Apps. Once there, confirm that AirDrop is set to Allowed (enabled). If none of those instructions worked, check the next step on the list and sign out and sign back in with your Apple ID.
2. Sign out of your Apple ID and sign in again
The next thing you can do that helped some users is to sign out of your Apple ID (iCloud Account) and sign in again. Just don’t forget to keep all the data on your iPhone by backing it up before choosing to sign out or you’ll lose everything.
Here’s how to sign out of your Apple ID and then sign in again on your iPhone:
- Open Settings.
- Tap your account from the top.
- Select iCloud and choose iCloud Backup.
- Tap Back Up Now.
- Go back to your account and tap Sign Out at the bottom.
- Confirm with your Apple ID password and then select Sign Out from the top right corner.
- Restart your device, navigate to Settings > Account and sign in again.
3. Update all included devices
For AirDrop to work without hiccups, we suggest that all included devices run the latest available iOS/iPadOS/MacOS version. It seems that running an outdated OS version can cause issues with AirDrop. So, make sure to update all your devices to the latest OS version before moving to the next step. If you have a super-old device, it might be time for an upgrade. Fortunately, with timely software updates, you won’t need to worry about another upgrade any time soon.
Here’s how to check for updates manually on your iPhone:
- Open Settings.
- Select General.
- Tap Software Update.
- Check for updates and install whatever update is available.
If AirDrop is still waiting when you try to share your files, make sure to turn off VPN and try again.
4. Turn off VPN
Other users addressed the problem by disabling VPN when they shared files via AirDrop. We can’t say with certainty why VPN affects data transfer (it shouldn’t) but still advise you to turn it off during AirDrop sharing sessions to avoid possible issues. It seems that disabling VPN in Settings > General > VPN & Device Management on the iPhone helps address the problem and AirDrop doesn’t seem to keep always waiting.
You can also disable VPN in the VPN client app. If you don’t use a VPN or disabling VPN didn’t resolve the issue at hand, there are some additional steps to consider.
5. Disable Firewall on your Mac
In case you have AirDrop issues when sharing to Mac or from Mac to other devices, we recommend temporarily disabling the Firewall option that blocks all incoming connections. You can do that in Settings > Security > Firewall. Once there, disable Block All Incoming Connections.
You can re-enable this option if necessary after transferring all files you wanted to exchange over AirDrop. But, have in mind to disable it in the future whenever you want to transfer files.
6. Remove and add emails to Contacts
To share files via AirDrop with your contacts, the contact in question needs to have either your phone number or your Apple ID listed as an email address. For some reason, removing and adding the email address to a contact card resolved the problem for some users. Once users removed the address and added it to the affected contact, the AirDrop started working instead of always waiting.
Here’s how to remove and add an Apple ID email in Contacts on your iPhone:
- Open the Phone app.
- Select Contacts from the bottom tab.
- Open a contact.
- Tap Edit at the top right corner.
- Tap on the minus icon next to the email address and then tap Delete to remove it.
- Select Done to save changes and tap Edit once again.
- Add the email address once more, tap Done to save changes, and try sharing files over AirDrop once more.
Make sure to do the same on the sending/receiving device, too. Once again, if you navigate to Settings > General > AirDrop and choose Everyone for 10 Minutes, you’ll be able to send and receive files even without the aforementioned contact details.
7. Reset Network settings
Some users addressed the problem by simply resetting Network Settings. Not ideal considering that this action leads to the deletion of saved Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth devices paired with your iPhone. Still, it’s worth a try if none of the previous steps worked for you and AirDrop is always Waiting or won’t connect at all.
Follow these instructions to reset Network Settings on your iPhone:
- Open the Settings app.
- Tap General.
- Select Transfer or Reset iPhone.
- Choose Reset.
- Tap Reset Network Settings and confirm when prompted. You’ll need to enter your PIN/pattern/Password to continue.
8. Reset All Settings
Finally, the only remaining solution that comes to mind is resetting All Settings on your iPhone. There’s only so much you can do before restoring the device to factory settings and this is your last resort. Keep in mind that this action won’t delete any data but will restore all settings to factory settings (their default values).
Here’s how to Reset All Settings on your iPhone:
- Open Settings.
- Select General.
- Tap Transfer or Reset iPhone.
- Choose Reset.
- Tap Reset All Settings and confirm with your PIN/Password/pattern.
And, on that note, we can conclude this article. We thank you for reading and encourage you to share alternative solutions or questions concerning the ones we posted. You can do that in the comments below.