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iPhone Tips: How to Airdrop photos between iPhones and Macs

For die-hard Apple users, being efficient is important. Especially to photographers who uses both their Macs and iPhones in their workflow.

How to set up your iPhone and Mac for AirDrop

To get the AirDrop party started between iOS devices running iOS 8 (or later), launch the Control Center by swiping upward from the bottom edge of the display. (In iOS 7, use the Settings app instead.)

  1. Tap the AirDrop icon to the left of the AirPlay icon (if you don’t see it, your iOS or the device itself is too old).

  2. In the resulting menu, pick who you want to share files with: Contacts Only or Everyone.

    • Tap Contacts Only and just the people in your Contacts app can see your device via AirDrop.

    • Tap Everyone and anyone using AirDrop within about 30 feet of you can see your device. If you’re trying to share images with someone who isn’t in your Contacts app, it’s quicker to set AirDrop to Everyone than it is to add them to your Contacts app.

To use AirDrop between an iOS device and a Mac, or between two Macs, make sure Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are turned on. Your Mac doesn’t need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network—Wi-Fi simply needs to be turned on.

How to use Photos for iOS

To AirDrop pictures and videos between iOS devices:

  1. Fire up Photos for iOS. Find the images in your Camera Roll or in an album.

  2. Tap the Select button at the upper-right.

  3. Tap the thumbnails you want to send, and Photos marks them with a checkmark.

  4. To deselect an item, tap the thumbnail again.

If you want to send all (or most) of the images in a single moment, you can select them all at once and save some time. First tap the Photos button at the bottom of your screen to enter Photos view, which splits your images into “moments” based on time and location. Then tap the Select button at the upper-right corner of the screen, which makes a smaller Select button to the right of each moment’s name and location. Tap that to select every image at once, and then tap any you’d like to deselect, or tap Deselect to deselect the whole moment.

Once you’ve selected some thumbnails, tap the Share icon at the lower-left corner. You’ll see several options for sharing, with the icons of nearby AirDrop users at the top. Simply tap the person you want to send the file(s) to. On the recipient’s iOS device, a message appears asking them to decline or accept the transfer—tapping Accept adds the files to their Photos library. If, however, you send the file to another device registered with the same iCloud account, Apple assumes you own both devices and the files are transferred without the need for approval.

If the recipient is on a Mac, they need to open an AirDrop window in the Finder (choose Go > AirDrop, press Shift-Command-R, or just look for AirDrop in your Finder window’s sidebar), or else you won’t see their AirDrop icon. In the AirDrop window on the receiving Mac, a message appears that lets them decline, save, or save and open the files. The resulting files land in the Mac’s Downloads folder.

How to use Photos for Mac

The process for using AirDrop in Photos for Mac is just as easy. Simply select some thumbnails by Shift- or Command-clicking them and then click the Share icon in Photos’ toolbar (or the Share icon that appears when you point your cursor to a moment in Photos view). In the resulting menu, click AirDrop.

A message appears in the middle of the Photos window that contains tiny thumbnails of the image(s) you selected along with the icons of nearby AirDrop-enabled devices. If you don’t see the icon of your intended recipient, try opening an AirDrop window yourself to jumpstart the process.

While there are other options for using Photos to share pictures and videos—say, shared albums and Family Sharing, AirDrop is a quick and instant way to get it done without Internet access.


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