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How to AirDrop without WiFi

Email clients typically limit the size of attachments for individual posts and force you to upload them to the cloud. Currently, it is time to wave goodbye to emailing photos, documents and other files, for there's a more practical way: the AirDrop. AirDrop, a feature built into iOS, since version 7, and macOS, since Lion (Mac OS X 10.7). Macs and iOS devices built since 2012 support AirDrop. What's great is that, unlike traditional methods of sharing files, there's no tricky setup. It sends files between nearby Macs and iOS devices over the air using an encrypted connection easily. I'll show you does airdrop work without WiFi, and does airdrop work with WiFi.


Part 1: Why is WiFi needed when using AirDrop?

AirDrop is a nifty feature baked into iOS that makes sharing files, images, notes, webpages, and more between Apple devices easier than ever. AirDrop uses a combination of technologies to transfer files securely, which utilize Bluetooth to find devices that you can send to, and the device you send from creates a secure peer-to-peer Wi-Fi network connection with the receiving device and transfers the file(s). When AirDrop is enabled, it triggers Bluetooth to look for other AirDrop-enabled iOS devices that are in the area. This process is similar to pairing your iPhone with your car’s Bluetooth system. It is said that the Wi-Fi radios of the source and target devices communicate directly without using an Internet connection or Wi-Fi Access Point. So, you get the fast file transfer speed of Wi-Fi without a router or an internet connection.

What is more, there is no limit to file size, and files transfer as fast as their individual hardware allows. Since you're not transferring files over a network, you don't share bandwidth with anyone. Therefore, can you use airdrop without WiFi? The answer is yes. You don’t have to be on a WiFi network to use AirDrop. Just turn WiFi on, but you don't need to connect to a network. AirDrop uses point-to-point WiFi to send the data. This is a direct wireless link between the two devices.

If you only want to use Airdrop to send content from one Mac to another, you will need a computer running Mac OS X Lion or later. Here is the official list of compatible devices:
>MacBook Pro (Late 2008) or later, excluding the MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2008).
>MacBook Air (Late 2010) or later.
>MacBook (Late 2008) or later, excluding the white MacBook (Late 2008).
>iMac (Early 2009) or later.
>Mac Mini (Mid 2010) or later.
>Mac Pro (Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card, or Mid 2010).

Part 2: How to AirDrop without WiFi on Mac?

Professionally, Airdrop has proven to be one of the most useful tools I use on a daily basis. Unfortunately, it is only supported on newer models which have the hardware necessary to support a certain type of point-to-point WiFi connection. Can we airdrop without WiFi? In fact, there is, a hidden setting will enable AirDrop on older Macs. All you need is to type:

Step 1. You can launch Terminal from /Applications/Utilities or via Spotlight.
Step 2. Enter the following command, and hit the Enter key:

defaults write BrowseAllInterfaces 1

Step 3. After you have typed the following command, and hit the Enter key:

killall Finder

Step 4. Then you are able to close the Terminal. If on a completely unsupported Mac, check that the Finder sidebar now shows an AirDrop entry, and open it. If on a supported Mac, simply open an AirDrop window.
Step 5. In the AirDrop window, ensure “Allow me to be discovered by:”. You can click the “Don’t see who you’re looking for?” text in the bottom-right of the window, then click the “Search for an Older Mac” button that appears, to enter legacy mode.


Step 6. If you hope to send files to other Macs, you can just repeat those steps mentioned above.
Ensure that all the Macs appear in each other’s AirDrop windows and that transfers between them work successfully.
In fact, using this added functionality doesn’t seem to have any negative effects on AirDrop’s speed or reliability, and doesn’t affect the workings of the newer protocol either, so it seems a win-win work.


However, if you would like to revert the changes you have made, follow the instructions below.

Step 1. Return AirDrop to its default behavior at any time by issuing the following command in Terminal:

defaults write BrowseAllInterfaces 0

Step 2. Enter the following command, and hit the “Enter” key:

killall Finder

Step 3. Close the Terminal.
As far as I am concerned, without a solid internet connection (pretty much anything less than LTE or a reliable Wi-Fi connection) this will be near impossible or take hours and hours.

Part 3: How to share file via AirDrop with WiFi on?

AirDrop is the simplest way to transfer files from one device to another. To use AirDrop, both devices need to have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on, and neither device should be acting as a personal hotspot. On the Mac, there are two ways to use AirDrop: from the Finder or the Share menu.

Sharing Files from the Finder

Go to AirDrop in the Finder by choosing Go > AirDrop, or you can press Command-Shift-R. A window will then list the devices are available to received files. You need to make sure that all devices are awake to display. The Macs can't be asleep, and iOS devices need to have their screen on.


After you have selected AirDrop, the Finder window will show all nearby AirDrop users for you. Drag a file, for example, some photos, onto one of the icons. And iOS will initiate the transfer once they accept it.

Sharing Files from the Share Menu

On the Mac, right-click a file, click the “Share” icon in that app, and then click the “AirDrop” command. It will show you a dialog asking you which device you want to send a file. Then you are able to send more than just files. You can send web pages from a browser, tweets from a Twitter client, a song from the Music app on iOS, and more. At the same time, you’ll be shown a list of all nearby AirDrop users. Just choose the one you want to send, and once they accept the file, your Mac will transfer the file. As soon as the file transfer is accepted, the file will be sent to the designated Mac and will show up in the receiving Mac's downloads folder.


Part 4: Alternative to AirDrop for transferring file between iOS devices

Apple's excellent file-transfer software is unfortunately not compatible with Windows. Luckily there are several alternatives that do a great job fulfilling your needs when it comes to transferring files, no matter which operation system you use. In the market, one of the easiest and most practical ways is a third-party, Leawo iTransfer. I'm going to show you how to use the alternative, the iTransfer, to AirDrop for transferring file between iOS devices with iTransfer.

I have used Leawo iTransfer a gazillion times and it has worked fine. Leawo iTransfer is also a quite famous file transfer tool among a lot of users. The program is apparently known for its seamless connectivity and the ease with which it can be used. With the advanced scanning and transferring technology, Leawo iTransfer helps users transfer SMS, music, videos, photos, etc. between iPhone/iPad/iPod, iTunes and computers seamlessly.

Step 1. Download and launch iTransfer on your own computer. Then connect both devices to computer. In a few seconds, the iTransfer will automatically detect both of the iOS devices and list the Libraries of the iPad and iPhone. You can just hit the name of iPad and choose a library of iPad in left sidebar.


Step 2. In the Libraries, you can check the square checkbox beside Name to select all files, for instance, apps, photos, music, videos, SMS, contacts, and so on, and click the transfer button.


Step 3. After you have hit the transfer button, a dialog of transfer setting will show. You can check Transfer to List in the dialog and set iPhone as a target. Next, hit Transfer Now to start transferring files from iPad to iPhone. Without the help you AirDrop, you can also transfer files conveniently.


With AirDrop, you can send an entire photo gallery in a matter of moments. You also don’t have to worry about the type of file you’re sending, for you are able to share just about anything you want from your device, including photos, videos, links, web pages, documents, screenshots, messages, and other forms of media. However, now AirDrop isn’t perfect—sometimes Bluetooth will act up, or some random on the subway will send you some...Maybe you can try iTransfer when it is needed.

David Brooks

David Brooks

With long-term dedication into the latest market demands and technologies, the author has become an expert in posting practical, in-depth and user-oriented how-tos, tutorials, recommendations, reviews, and more digital multimedia solutions in Blu-ray, DVD, video, audio, picture, Apple utilities, etc.

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