How do I copy files from Mac to Mac with AirDrop?

I just handed my friend a USB drive with some files on it when he asked me “why don’t you use AirDrop when you’re copying files?” Dave, what’s AirDrop and how would I have used it to copy files from my MacBook to his MacBook Air?

Dave’s Answer:

AirDrop is one of those unsung features of the Mac operating system — known now as “OS X”, btw, not “Mac OS X” — that offers up some neat capabilities with a nice visual interface, but somehow is never used, never mentioned and likely going to just vanish some day when an OS update drops onto our computers. Why? Because unused features just clutter up an operating system so unless we all start using AirDrop, I’m afraid its days are numbered.

Oh, that’s a downer way to start an article! Your friend is right, if you’re copying from one Mac system to another and you’re both on the same wifi network, AirDrop really is the easiest possible solution, and it’s fun too.

Let’s jump in, and perhaps I can convince some of you to give AirDrop a whirl and, who knows, maybe we’ll help keep it as a core feature in 10.9, etc.

AirDrop can be found on the Finder sidebar: just open up any folder and you’ll see it. Click on it and you’re on AirDrop.

There are two sides to this, so both need to be running AirDrop. On the file sender’s end, here’s what things looks like:

The lower icon is you (there are concentric circles on the screen with your Mac in the center if you expand up the window) and the other icons represent other computers on the local wifi network that are also on AirDrop. In this case, “Dave’s MBP”.

Now just drag and drop a file, folder or set of files and folders onto the icon that represents the other computer, and an alert window pops up:

That’s what we want to do, so click on “Send”.

Now let’s switch to the receiving computer, “Dave’s MBP”. On that computer a new alert pops up:

Looks good. Now the received clicks on “Save” and the files are sent across quickly and easily.

If it’s a big transfer that takes a while, it’s neat to observe that there’s a ring around the remote computer icon that slowly fills in to denote progress. Here you can see I’m about 30% complete with this copy:

That’s all there is to it. Super easy file transfer between Macs. Still not entirely surely why it’s not more popular but I think it’s a matter of remembering the feature exists. But now you know, so give it a try, let us know how it goes!

Categorized as Mac

By Dave Taylor

Dave Taylor has been involved with the Internet since 1980 and is internationally known as an expert on both business and technology issues. Holder of an MSEd and MBA, author of twenty books and founder of four startups, he also runs a strategic marketing company and consults with firms seeking the best approach to working with weblogs and social networks. Dave is an award-winning speaker and frequent guest on radio and podcast programs.

Leave a comment