Apple has introduced a way to share files locally with other iOS users in iOS 7, called AirDrop. This allows for users to share photos, documents, and text with other iOS devices with ease. Here’s how to use it.

There are two important things to know about AirDrop: One, it only works with supported devices. These devices are oddly-selected: the original iPad mini can use AirDrop but the iPad 2 cannot despite identical – and technically slightly more powerful – internals. Two, this is different from AirDrop on the Mac despite being named the same, so don’t expect to send files from Mac to iOS.

To use AirDrop, it must first be enabled from Control Center. Swipe up from the bottom and tap on the AirDrop logo. Now, set it to Contacts Only or Everyone. Everyone will allow anyone within Bluetooth range to share files with you, whereas Contacts Only allows only people in your Contacts list to see you when sharing to AirDrop. Note that enabling AirDrop will turn on both wifi and Bluetooth.

HowToAirDrop-ControlCenterTo share a file via AirDrop, go to an app that uses the built-in iOS Sharing feature. This is generally indicated by an arrow pointing upward out of a rectangle. You should see the AirDrop description text first. After a short bit, any nearby AirDrop users will appear. They may need to have their device on and unlocked to be discovered. Tap on their picture that appears to share the file to them. Tap again to cancel.

On the receiving end of the AirDrop process, an alert will appear to Accept or Decline the AirDrop. If accepted, the AirDrop content will open up in the appropriate app.

HowToAirDrop-AlertSome uses of AirDrop include sharing photos from Photos, with the ability to share multiple at a time. All photos are saved to the Camera Roll.

HowToAirDrop-SharePhotoShare contacts from Contacts – it’s possible to just temporarily view a contact card to call or email a person based on the contact info given (but not to FaceTime), or to save it to your contacts. This is great in lieu of business card trading. See a cool link in Safari? Share it with AirDrop.

HowToAirDrop-Contact1 HowToAirDrop-Contact2You can share documents from iWork apps like Pages with others, in a variety of formats like PDFs.

HowToAirDrop-PagesMore apps will start to use AirDrop as time goes on, particularly as it is an extremely handy way to send files without having to tap devices or share via the web!

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