I have used AirDrop from time to time over the years to transfer files from one Mac to another over a local network. It is pretty convenient to be able to do that. But, just recently I had been having problems transferring files from my iMac to my wife’s MacBook Air. I just could not figure it out until I did some research on Apple’s website.

AirDrop is located in you Finder sidebar like so:

Theoretically, if you have AirDrop open and it is also open on the other Mac you should see each other. My wife’s MacBook Air is located in another part of the house. I went through all kinds of machinations tweaking the Firewall, resetting WiFi and Bluetooth, etc., but to no avail.

Finally, I went to this page on the Apple website. It provides information about AirDrop for OS X Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks. There is a link on this page to a Yosemite AirDrop page also. They make all kinds of suggestions about troubleshooting AirDrop, but the one that caught my attention was this:

  • Move your devices closer together. AirDrop is designed to work within a range of approximately 30 feet (9 meters). If you need to send a file to someone farther away, consider using File Sharing, iCloud, or email instead.

“Yeah”, I thought. My wife’s MacBook Air was just on the edge of the 30 foot acceptable range. So, I brought it into my office next to my iMac, opened AirDrop on both machines, but no dice. Then I noticed this link at the bottom of the AirDrop window, “Don’t see who you’re looking for?”. 

I clicked on it and selected “Search for an Older Mac”. My wife’s Air is 2011 vintage. When I did my wife’s MacBook Air appeared in the AirDrop window:

Wala!! AirDrop was working after all. I just needed to bring both machines a little closer together. 

The moral to the story is, all of these cool technologies that Apple provides need to be used within their designed operational parameters. If you are having trouble with AirDrop by all means go to the Apple Support Page.  There you will find several troubleshooting suggestions that may fix your problem.