Where Do AirDrop Files Go on Mac And iPhone?

One of the key reasons why people join the Apple ecosystem is smooth data sharing. It’s like using the same Apple device in multiple avatars. Transferring data from one device to another is no harder than simply copying and pasting.

Yes, if you have ever used AirDrop, you would probably get what I’m talking about.  Using AirDrop is one of the fastest and smoothest ways to share files between Apple devices.

You can easily move a document, video, image, or any file using Airdrop from iPhone/iPad to MacBook within seconds and vice versa. 

But where do AirDrop files go on Mac? If you are a new MacBook user, it may feel like a maze to track down files that are downloaded and ‘AirDropped’.

Today, we are going to give you a simple walk-through to make it easier for you to navigate! 


What is AirDrop?

What is AirDrop?


Introduced first in Mac OS X Lion and iOS 7, AirDrop is a file-sharing program that works under the Apple ecosystem. It kind of resembles Bluetooth and Wireless sharing methods, but only working with Apple devices. It needs the devices to be in close proximity to each other for hassle-free transfer. 


How Does AirDrop Work and How to Use it? 

How Does AirDrop Work and How to Use it 


Using AirDrop is pretty simple. You just need to enable the service on both of the devices that you are using for file sharing. For example, if you are sharing files between your iPhone and MacBook, follow the following process. 

On your iPhone, simply drag down the control center from the right top corner of the screen. From there, long press on the top-left group of icons that includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane, and Mobile Data icon.

Pressing it for a few seconds will display another two options – Personal Hotspot and AirDrop. Simply tap on the AirDrop icon. 

Now, when you tap on the AirDrop option, you will find three options to choose from – Receiving Off, Contacts Only, and Everyone. If you want to share files between devices used by people in your contact, select Contact Only. Otherwise, turn on Everyone for sharing data to any Apple device nearby. 

As for turning on the AirDrop MacBook, go to the display brightness icon on the top right corner besides Siri. Clicking on it will show you a few options, including AirDrop right beneath Bluetooth. 

Turning it on will show you two options, similar to the iPhone – Contacts Only and Everyone. Select the option you prefer, and now both devices are ready to share files through AirDrop


Where Do Where Do AirDrop Files Go on Mac?

Where Do AirDrop Files Go on Mac


So, now that you know how AirDrop actually works, it’s time to find out where the AirDrop files actually go. Receiving the AirDrop files on Mac is fairly easy. It directly lands in the Downloads folder. See the following process. 

First of all, go to the file (image or video) on your phone and long tap over it. For example, I’m sharing a video file from my iPhone to MacBook. 

Pressing on the file will show a pop-up that has three options – Share, Favorite, and Delete from Library. You need to select the Share option from here. 

Now, when you tap on the Share option, it will land you on a different page that includes multiple sharing options. From different chatting apps to email, you have got a bunch of routes to send the file. In this place, you need to select the AirDrop that is usually found on the first in this list. 

When you tap on AirDrop, your iPhone will search for available AirDrop-enabled devices around you. If it finds any AirDrop-enabled Apple device in close proximity, it will show its name here. In this case, it’s showing my MacBook as the only available device in its radius. 

From this place, the process is even simpler. You simply need to tap on the available device icon, and the ‘AirDropping’ process will begin. 

Now, if you check your MacBook screen, you will see a data receiving bar showing up on the top right corner of the display. It will look something like this. The bar will show the progress of the receipt, and as soon as it ends, you will have the data received on your device in no time. 

So, when the receipt is done, where does the file go? By default, any file that is received through AirDrop goes to the Downloads folder. Now, if you are lucky, you will see the Finder pop up when the file sending process ends. 

The Finder will select the Downloads folder by default, and the file you just sent, will be shown and selected on the Downloads folder.

It makes it really easy to find out the file without even trying it. But what happens if the Finder doesn’t pop up? Well, in that case, here’s what you can do. Go to the Finder on the bottom left of your MacBook.

Now select the Downloads folder from the list. 

This will show you all the downloaded files, including the AirDropped one. However, it will not highlight and select the AirDropped file. You need to scan through the documents available on downloads to find it out. So, this is how you transfer data through AirDrop and find the file on your Downloads folder on Mac. 


Finding AirDrop Files on iPhone/iPad is Different Than Mac  

Finding AirDrop Files on iPhone


As you are using Mac as the receiving device, it’s pretty easy to download and find the file on your computer. However, if the file is received on iPhone, it may be a bit confusing to find the file there. Any new user will have a difficult time finding the AirDropped file on the iPhone. 

If you are sharing files like photos and videos, then you are in luck. You can easily find those on your Photos App. This is because these formats are easily processed by the Photos app and don’t generally need any other app to get involved. So, whenever you have received an image or video file from your Mac or other Apple devices, you can find the files on your Photos App. 

But what about other file types, typically the document files? For example, if someone sends you a Spreadsheet, a PDF, or a Doc file? In this case, the process should be slightly different. 

Your iPhone will try to analyze the file type and will suggest to you the necessary App that you want to use to open the specific file.

For example, if you are sharing a Spreadsheet file, it will pop up a pull of app options like Google Sheet, MS Excel, Open Office, WPS Office, etc. (depending on what apps you have on your phone). 

You need to select the app type first, and then the sharing will begin. Finally, the file can be accessed through that selected App. Let’s find out how it looks when I send a Doc file from my MacBook to my iPhone. 

As soon as the iPhone detects an AirDrop Doc file, it pops up the available apps that I have on my phone capable of opening a Doc file. 

As you can see, you can use the Docs App to open the file, or you can select the Files option to find the document under the Files folders. 

So, this is how you find an AirDropped file on your iPhone. This is applicable for iPad, as well. 


What Else Can You Do with AirDrop?

Apart from simply sharing files, you can also share contact information and webpage links with AirDrop. If you go to your web browser and click on the link, you will find a sharing icon on the right side of the address bar. 

If you click it, it will open up the AirDrop sharing option. Then select the available device around, and that device will readily open the link on its browser! 

Similarly, you can share contact information in this manner. All you need to do is share the contact through AirDrop, and the contact will be updated to the receiver’s contact list unchanged! 



So, that’s how you share via AirDrop and find the shared files on your Mac and iPhone. It’s pretty easy on Mac as it automatically opens up the Downloads folder. For iPhone and iPad, it’s a bit tricky but still pretty straightforward. 

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