Configuring AirDrop on an iPhone and Mac
Aleksey Khilko/Shutterstock.com

Apple’s AirDrop is a convenient way to send photos, files, links, and other data between devices. AirDrop only works on Macs, iPhones, and iPads, but similar solutions are available for Windows PCs and Android devices.

Windows 10: Nearby Sharing

If you’re just moving photos or files between two nearby Windows 10 PCs, you don’t need anything extra. Windows 10’s “Nearby Sharing” feature was added back in the April 2018 Update. This feature works a lot like AirDrop for Windows. With this feature enabled on two PCs near each other, you can quickly send anything—even files, by using the Share feature built into Windows 10’s File Explorer. The files are transferred over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

To set this up, visit Settings > System > Shared Experiences and enable “Nearby sharing.” You can choose who can send you content, but you’ll still have to agree every time someone wants to send you something.

Receiving a file sent with Nearby Sharing on Windows 10

RELATED: How to Use Nearby Sharing on Windows 10

Android: Files by Google (and Fast Share)

On the Android front, Google is working on a “Fast Share” feature that works like AirDrop and Nearby Sharing. Via a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, it will let you share files, photos, and even snippets of text with other people nearby.

This feature isn’t out yet—9to5Google discovered a work-in-progress version in June 2019. It may take a while.

Until this feature goes live, you might want to try the official Files by Google app. It includes an “offline sharing” feature that uses peer-to-peer file sharing to send files to someone else with the Files by Google app nearby. In other words, it works a lot like AirDrop—two people with Files by Google installed can use the app to send files back and forth using Bluetooth.

AirDrop-style file sharing for Android in Files by Google

Cross-Platform Alternatives to AirDrop

Classic network file sharing tools still work well with Windows PCs, Macs, and even Linux systems. You can set up a shared network folder on your local network. WIth just tools built into your operating system, you can access the network folder in your operating system’s file manager and copy files back and forth.

Turning on network file sharing on Windows 10 from File Explorer

If that’s a little technical or you want to transfer files over the internet, try using a file-syncing service like Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Apple iCloud Drive—which works on Windows, too. You can share files (or folders) with other accounts and they’ll be available in another person’s cloud storage. Dropbox even has a “LAN Sync” feature, which will ensure that any file shared with you by someone on the local network will be transferred over your local network and not the internet, saving time and download bandwidth.

Dropbox preferences showing Enable LAN sync options

If you’d rather stick with sending files over the local network, try Snapdrop. It’s sort of a web-based clone of AirDrop. Unlike many other web-based services, you can open Snapdrop on two devices on the same local network and send a file—the file will be transferred over your local network, not via the internet.

Snapdrop website showing multiple computers

For sending larger files, consider a file-sending service. There are many out there, but Firefox Send is made by Mozilla and is free. You can upload files to the service. You’re then given a link which you can send to someone, and that person can open the link in their browser and download the files. This does transfer the files over the internet.

You can use this tool without any sort of account—you can even use it in Google Chrome, Safari, or any other non-Firefox web browser.

Firefox Send interface

Unfortunately, we can’t find any sort of Windows client for AirDrop or Android app that’s compatible with AirDrop. AirDrop only works between macOS systems, iPhones, and iPads.

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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