If you love the ease of sharing files wirelessly on a Mac with AirDrop, you might be delighted to learn that you can do something similar in Windows 11 with Nearby Sharing, which comes built-in. Here’s how to use it.

Requirements

As of July 2022, to use Nearby Sharing in Windows 11, both Windows devices you want to transfer files between must support Bluetooth 4.0 or later with Bluetooth LE support. As long as both PCs have Bluetooth, you can share files between Windows 10 and Windows 11 as well.

If you don’t have Bluetooth on your PC, good news is on the horizon: Microsoft is experimenting with Windows 11 builds that can use Wi-Fi instead, or even a standard wired network connection through UDP. We suspect this update might arrive later in 2022 with the 22H2 update or maybe even sooner.

Currently, Nearby Sharing only supports transfers of individual files, not folders. But as a workaround, you could ZIP the folder before sharing, then decompress it on the receiving machine.

RELATED: What Is Bluetooth?

First, Enable Nearby Sharing

To use Nearby Sharing in Windows 11, you first need to ensure it is enabled. To do so, press Windows+i to open the Settings app. Or you can right-click the Start menu and select “Settings.”

In Settings, select “System,” then click “Nearby Sharing.”

In Nearby Sharing settings, locate the “Nearby Sharing” section and expand it if necessary. Then click a radio button beside either “My Devices Only” or “Everyone Nearby.” If you choose “My Devices Only,” you can only transfer files between devices signed into the same Microsoft Account. “Everyone Nearby” means any nearby Windows computer.

Note: The Settings app will remind you if you don’t have Bluetooth enabled with a small notification message. If that’s the case, follow the link to enable Bluetooth, then return to System > Nearby Sharing.

In System > Nearby Sharing, select "My Devices Only" or "Everyone Nearby."

After that, you can configure where Nearby Sharing files are saved to by clicking “Change,” or you can follow a link to rename your device in System > About, which is how your Windows PC will appear to others who might share files with you.

If you change your mind and want to disable Nearby Sharing later, you can click the “Nearby Sharing” button in Quick Settings, or you can navigate to Settings > System > Nearby Sharing and select the “Off” option.

RELATED: How to Turn On Bluetooth on Windows 11

How to Share Files with Nearby Sharing

Now that Nearby Sharing is enabled, sharing a file is fairly easy. First, locate the file in File Explorer or on your desktop. Right-click the file and select the Share icon (a square with a right-pointing arrow coming out of it) in the menu that appears.

A special sharing window will open, and you’ll see a “Nearby Sharing” section. Windows will discover any nearby Windows PCs (they can be Windows 10 or 11) that also have Nearby Sharing enabled and match the restrictions placed in Settings (your devices vs. every device). Click the name of the PC you want to share the file with.

In a popup in the lower-right corner of the screen, you’ll see a notice that you are sharing to that PC, and you’re waiting for the device to accept. On the receiving PC, you’ll see a pop-up as well. Select “Save.”

Windows will wirelessly transfer the file to the other PC, and you’ll see a confirmation message that the transfer was successful. You can open the file instantly by clicking “Open,” select “Open Folder” to view its location, or dismiss the notification.

Tip: By default, Nearby Sharing saves files to your Downloads folder, but that can be changed in Settings > System > Nearby Sharing. (See the section above for more information.)

When Nearby Sharing is complete, you'll see a confirmation message.

And that’s it! From now on, you can share files to any nearby Windows PC that also has Nearby Sharing enabled, including Windows 10 PCs. Happy transfers!

RELATED: How to Use Nearby Sharing on Windows 10

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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