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Airdrop does reduce image quality in some instances, depending on what device you’re sending the pictures to. Fortunately, you can choose to send your photos in the original quality when sending using Airdrop if you despise this feature.

Does Airdrop Reduce Picture Quality?

If you’ve been looking closely enough, you might have noticed a slight reduction in the quality of images sent over Airdrop.

No, that isn’t your eyes playing tricks on you; it happens when you send images from an iPhone to a Mac using Airdrop. If you didn’t explicitly state that the pictures should retain their original quality, Airdrop may help you compress the image before sending it over.

This usually happens when you’re sending to an older iPhone or Mac. If your picture contains information that your iPhone thinks the recipient’s device can’t decode, it may remove all of those information to cut down file sizes.

While we speculate that iPhones reduce picture quality, there is no definitive proof for that. Apple has been pretty quiet about this topic, and all tests show that images retain their original resolution, even with a drop in file size.

However, there is an option deep in your iPhone settings that lets you send original photos over Airdrop. When you enable this option, the mysterious drop in file size disappears. That almost justifies the speculation that Airdrop will reduce your picture’s quality in certain circumstances.

If you’d rather not have Apple cut off a few kilobytes from your original photo, you can read on to the next section to learn how to send original photos over Airdrop every time.

How to Share Original Photos in Airdrop

If you feel like Airdrop is compressing your images, you don’t have to ditch it. However annoying it may be, it’s still the best way to transfer photos from your iPhone to your Mac.

If you’re a photographer who wants crisp photos on your Mac each time you want to edit, you can make a few modifications to your settings to make your pictures come out in their original quality. Here are the steps to follow to share photos in their original quality on Airdrop.

Open the Photos app on your iPhone.

While you can find the option to change this setting in your device’s Settings app, it’s unnecessarily cumbersome. You don’t want to go around digging for the specific option that lets you send photos in their original quality when you can simply do it on the Photos app.

The idea here is to attempt to share the picture from Airdrop. However, instead of sharing the picture, as usual, you’ll dive into the settings to force it to share at the maximum quality possible.

Try sharing a photo and dive into the Airdrop sharing options.

If you have a picture to share, select it and tap on the share button. You can simply choose any random photo if you don’t have any picture to share at the moment.

After clicking on the share button, the interface that lets you select multiple pictures should appear. Also, you’ll see a couple of sharing options below the photo you’re trying to share, including Airdrop.

However, instead of selecting Airdrop, try selecting the little “Options” button at the top right corner. After tapping on that, an interface should pop under, showing you several photo-sharing options.

Choose to include all photos data while sharing the picture.

From the options that pop-under, you can select to send a picture as an iCloud link or an individual photo. Below this option, however, you can choose to include all photos data when sharing a photo to another iPhone.

This option only works when you’re sharing via Airdrop. Turning the toggle to on will share the picture in the original quality and file size with all the metadata that Apple usually strips off an image before sharing.

In short, if you share a photo after applying this effect, you can view the photo in its full glory on the recipient’s iPhone. If it has any live effects, the recipient will be able to view it if their device is capable of doing that.

Also, they’ll be able to edit history and reverse any crops or filters you added in the Photos app on your iPhone.

Typically, you don’t share photos with all that. If you’re sharing a live photo, for example, the live effect will be removed if the recipient iPhone or Mac will be unable to view it.

Fortunately, you don’t have to reset that each time you’re sharing a new photo. Your iPhone will remember your choice and always respect it until you choose to change it if you ever did.

Use your settings app.

If you’d rather effect this change from your Settings app, it’s quite easy. However, doing it from your Photos app will be less tasking since you can simply do it the next time you’re sharing a photo.

If you don’t share that thought, you can simply open your Settings app on your iPhone. Scroll down and select Photos to see all the options you can modify for your Photos app.

Scroll through the understandably many options until you see the “Transfer to Mac or PC” tab. This should be set to Automatic by default, but you can also choose to keep the originals. Simply tap on “Keep Originals” to share your photos via Airdrop without losing any quality.

If you’re sharing from a Mac, however, it’s always at full quality. Since there is no quality loss in the first place, having an option to send pictures in their original quality will be counterintuitive, won’t it?

Does Airdrop Decrease Video Quality?

When talking about Airdrop and pictures, it’s easy to forget that you can also send pictures over Airdrop too. And just like pictures, your device may see it fit to decrease the quality of your videos a bit when you share them over Airdrop.

You don’t have to worry about that, however, as the fix is surprisingly simple. If you read through the entire section for photos, you should be good, as those steps also fix the issue for videos too.

If you didn’t read the section, however, here’s a quick walkthrough of the steps required to send all videos from your iPhone to your Mac in original quality, even if your Mac is from decades ago.

Can You Use Your Phone if Disconnected?
  • Launch the Settings app on your iPhone and scroll down until you see the Photos option.
  • Tap on Photos, and scroll down to the “Transfer to Mac or PC” tab.
  • Change the selected option from Automatic to Keep Originals. That way, your iPhone will always transfer the original version of a video to your Mac, even if your Mac will be unable to play the video.

You can also achieve the same result by diving into the sharing options from your iPhone’s Photos app. Either way, you get to send a crisp video to the recipient.

Why Is Airdrop Increasing File Sizes?

While much has been said about compressing images and videos to reduce file sizes, can Airdrop be possibly upscale images to increase file sizes?

If you send pictures to older iPhones quite frequently, you should have experienced a circumstance where your picture increased in file size upon getting to its destination. Since it doesn’t usually look any better, you may want to know what’s going on.

Over the years, Apple has continued to build newer technologies that enable users to take images that pack more information in smaller file sizes. With the release of iOS 11, Apple started using the HEIC encoding format for most photos.

Compared to a JPEG of the same size, a photo encoded in HEIC can contain up to twice as much information as one using regular JPEG. But since older iPhones can’t use this format, your phone will convert images to JPEG when sent to them.

If you’ve been following quite well, you should already be able to guess that this can cause up to a 100% increase in file size, but not necessarily in quality.