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AirDrop is one of iOS and macOS devices’ unique features. With it, Apple device users can share text files, photos, videos, sound clips, spreadsheets, and more in a snap. Aside from the speed, your file transfers are safe and secure. Thanks to the sophisticated encryption of the Apple ecosystem.
AirDrop uses Apple’s ‘Wireless Direct Link’ (AWDL) technology, which integrates Bluetooth and WiFi peer-to-peer connection. The result is faster fire transfers of up to 30 Mbps.
Despite this, some users complain of slow AirDrop transfer speed. And that’s what we’re going to address in this article.
Table of Contents
1. What Causes Slow File Transfer on AirDrop?
Typically, your WiFi network affects your AirDrop’s speed limitations, But the technical specifications of the devices making the transfers can be a factor, too.
For example, some smartphones have specific parameters for the types of WiFi bands they might be able to access. Further, the reliability and strength of your Bluetooth connection between two or more devices also affect AirDrop’s transfer speed. If one of these factors is not functioning at its total capacity, some Apple users might experience a dip in their AirDrop speed.
Apple’s wireless service should be able to transfer your files at relatively high speeds. However, some file types take longer to complete than others. On a related note, larger files will also need more time to complete their operations. However, some users experience AirDrop slowdowns that have a different cause.
1. Device Issues
Some older devices may have their limitations. For example, if you are using a device running on an old macOS or iOS, AirDrop may not work at all. If it does, the service might have to cap itself at a relatively low speed to work within your device’s hardware or software limitations.
Depending on the model or operating system you are using, you could update the software or firmware on your device. Doing so could clear up some of the speed problems you have for AirDrop file transfers. However, many older devices no longer have support from the technical side of things, and this option may not work for you.
2. Wi-Fi Problems
The most obvious place to start is your top Wi-Fi speed. AirDrop should be able to support speeds faster than the usual transfer speed of a traditional home WiFi network. However, that does not mean that your device will be able to use all of that potential.
For one thing, the AirDrop transfer speed you get depends on whatever network speed package you purchase from your internet service provider. So while a hundred megabytes per second speed might be possible in theory, you will only get a slower transfer rate that is still quite serviceable for your needs.
It is not uncommon to get data transfer rates of up to 30 MBps or so for any files you want to send. Outside of huge files, this speed should be high enough to facilitate some quick transfers involving many data pieces.
However, if you are getting a speed that slows down AirDrop speed, even when sending relatively small files, there may be an issue with your Wi-Fi network.
Interference is the next central area of concern. Any home WiFi network should connect to only your devices. However, there is always a chance that surrounding network devices can interfere with your network.
As these adjacent devices continue sending and receiving their signals, they can interfere with the ability of your devices to connect to your network. Even nearby appliances part of an intelligent home setup can contribute to this interference.
The more difficulty your network has in connecting to the devices, the greater the chances are that your data transfer speeds will not be optimal. Try switching channels or bands to minimize the possibilities of a network slowdown.
Because AirDrop is using a short-range communications protocol, it needs to be near the other device it wants to transfer data. So in truth, even a few inches could improve or decrease your data transfer speed.
If you are not getting the speed you expect, try putting the two devices as close as possible. Also, check the wireless settings in each device to see if you need to change some settings there.
Before we move on, note that file transfers that exchange gigabytes of data can take a long time. It would not be unusual for your devices to spend a couple of hours transferring many gigs of information.
2. Why Does AirDrop Say “Declined”?
The receiving device should accept the file you send when you AirDrop something to another device. Otherwise, the transfer will not happen, and you’ll receive a “Declined” message.
But for this scenario, let us assume that you are trying to transfer a file between two of your own Apple devices. If you get a “Declined” message, start by checking the settings on each device.
Turn off and restart your Bluetooth and WiFi connections. Do this for both devices. Next, continue the transfer to see if that works. If not, try restarting the operating systems on both devices.
Either of these methods should produce some results, but if they do not, you may need to sign in to your Apple account properly. Again, do this across both devices. Even if you signed in earlier, try signing out and back in again.
3. Why Do I Receive the “Failed To Save Item” AirDrop Message?
There are a few reasons for this particular error message. Trying some of the fixes mentioned in the earlier sections above may solve this issue.
That said, this error can stem from a different problem. The most likely culprit could be an incorrect file format. For example, the receiving device might only be able to accept files in a particular format.
For example, if you send a compilation of photos in .jpg format to another device, the recipient cannot receive them properly if they don’t understand the file extension format. Thus, you’ll get a “Failed to Save” error message. Instead, it might tell you to save the file on iCloud.
For your convenience, here’s a list of Apple devices that support AirDrop.
- If you’re sharing files between different devices (i.e. iPad, Mac, or iPhone), Macs should be running on OS X Yosemite or later, while iPhones and iPads on iOS 7 or later.
- MacBook Pros released in 2008 or later
- MacBooks (except the white one) released in 2008 or later
- MacBook Air released in 2010 up
- iMacs released in 2009 up
- Mac minis released in 2010 up
4. Why Does AirDrop Say “Waiting” but Never Connects?
If your AirDrop service is in waiting mode but never seems to connect, it’s a configuration issue with one or both devices:
- You can check the settings you’ve enabled in either device for how long the screen timeout feature should last.
- Ensure that the AirDrop app is in its active state here, thus allowing it to bypass turning off with the screen timeout.
- You should ensure that the second device is on, discoverable, and within range to facilitate a file transfer over Bluetooth.
- If your AirDrop service is set to transfer only between contacts you’ve saved on your device, it also needs specific addresses in its system for AirDrop to work.
5. Why Does AirDrop Cancel Itself?
If you run out of space on the device, AirDrop will cancel itself from doing this. Although there is no hard file size limit on the amount of data you can transfer between devices, there are space limitations on your physical phones or tablets that could prevent the data from going through.
You can also check our sections on device or WiFi errors to see if the problems are in either of these areas. Finally, if all else fails, you can try connecting the units using a different WiFi network to rule out other issues.
AirDrop is a unique and convenient feature of Apple devices. People often use it to talk to and get files from each other. In most cases, it should work seamlessly, be relatively quick with its transfers, and pose no issues for its users.
However, a few factors might make it seem slow, or it could fail to move files at all. You can check our various troubleshooting sections for tips on how to get past this.