Lion’s Air Drop Not Showing Up on Your Mac? Here’s Why

Now that I have the new MacBook Air I thought it would be nice to test out the new Air Drop feature built in to OS X Lion.  This feature allows users who are on the same wireless network to easily share files back and forth over their computers.  To test it out I took a screen shot on my Air and then placed it into the Air Drop folder.  I then opened up Finder on my iMac to grab the file.  Sounds easy enough right?  The only problem is there’s no Air Drop folder on my iMac anywhere.  After some quick searching it turns out that not every machine is capable of running Air Drop – even though it may be running OS X Lion.

Only the following Apple computers are able to take advantage of the Air Drop feature:

  • MacBook Pro (Late 2008 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 or newer)
  • iMac (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card, or Mid 2010)

I find it odd that Apple is selling Air Drop as one of the key features built into Lion yet the feature only works on a select group of machines – even though they are all able to install and run the operating system.  It seems the problem is hardware related and stems from the use of different Air Ports in the different machines.  Nonetheless I guess I’m not going to be giving up Drop Box as my method for getting files from one machine to another any time soon.



Larry has always had a passion for gear and gadgets. It all started for him with the release of the very first Palm Pilot. He has always had an interest in handheld electronics. From handheld PDAs, to cell phones, Mp3 players, watches and other products, Larry is the first person his friends, family and colleagues call when they need advice on tech.

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  • No Air Drop in Lion… gotta get myself a new iMac!

  • Well that’s frustrating.

  • Weston Siegenthaler

    So because of my 2008 MBP I get NO gestures and NO AirDrop. And because my SSD isn’t sold by Apple I get NO TRIM support either (Corsair F120). Starting to wonder why I ponied up $30…

    • Cogbox

      Found the following info at, and it worked for me!

      AirDrop is a handy way to share files between Macs. Unfortunately, it is only supported on newer models which have the hardware necessary to support a certain type of point-to-point WiFi connection. There is, however, a hidden setting to enable AirDrop on older Macs. Just type:

      defaults write BrowseAllInterfaces 1

      into a Terminal window, hit enter, and relaunch the Finder.

      Note that:
      You must do this on both the sending and receiving macs, even if one of them already has the correct WiFi hardware (I think).
      You will be able to see other macs on the same network, and they will be able to see your Mac (when AirDrop is open), even if they are not physically nearby. On a larger network with many Macs, this could potentially cause some confusion, although it shouldn’t be a real security issue. This may be why Apple decided not to enable this feature by default.
      Both macs must be connected to the same network somehow (ethernet, existing WiFi network, etc.)

      [crarko adds: So here I sit, with only one Lion machine, so I can’t fully test this. However, when using the command, it did enable the AirDrop icon in the Finder’s Sidebar and said it had become available, so it will likely work, given the caveats mentioned above. To reverse this, just change the 1 in the command to a 0. This will be a great boon to those of us with some older (but still Lion-capable) machines still around.]

      • Lensman

        Worked perfectly!

  • G10

    Ever feel like you’ve been had?

  • Lion’s Air Drop Not Showing Up on Your Mac? Here’s Why –

  • ANNOYING! But thanks for the info…

  • James

    Thanks for the info! Very annoying and frankly Apple have misled myself and many others our iMac has Airdrop but no use as my MBP 2005 and my wife’s MBA late 2008 do not. No Gestures we had anticipated but not no Airdrop shame on Apple!

    • Helo

      i’m feeling your pain brotha

  • Oh bugger… no AirDrop for me then…

  • I was wondering why airdrop was not showing up on my iMac 🙁

  • Hmmm. Guess I will have to run out and spend $2500 for a new iMac.

  • No AirDrop on my MacPro (Early 2008)

  • Aminadd

    First Off, air drop is a fancy way of transferring files between macs, but not the only way. Second you certainly don’t need drop box in order to transfer files between computers, you can either use ssh command in terminal if you know your way around it of-course. Or if you’re not a tech savvy kind of a guy you could use the file option that has been a part of OSX for about 8 years now, called “File Sharing” which is located into system preferences under “SHARING”.

  • I wanted to use #airdrop today to transfer a file but it doesn't show up on my iMac.. I ran across this article: #lame

  • Christoffer

    I have the march 2011 model macbook pro, but I can’t locate Airdrop. Does anyone know what’s going on ?

  • Richard

    It is stupid.

  • Install Lion? Airdrop not showing up? Weak.

  • I had no idea that this feature had such stringent hardware requirements, but I suppose it shows that this wasn’t supposed to replace or even supplement regular file sharing – it’s intended for situations where ad hoc networks are the best bet.
    I stumbled across this page after trying to use AirDrop from a MacBook Pro which supported it to a hackintosh, which obviously didn’t. I ended up enabling regular file sharing and using Bonjour.
    Thanks for posting this – and thanks to the earlier poster who provided the terminal workaround.

  • Saif

    goading it!

  • Marketing….

    After installing Lion, my MS Office for Mac does not run anymore. Nowhere is it mentioned that Office is not compatible. I was running office 2004.

    We should hold Apple accountable. They need to release operating systems that are backward compatible with every imaginable hardware and software. In fact, it should run DOS.

    … can get around much of Air Drop with your sharing settings. In terms of the final result, Air drop is just a simpler and cleaner way of doing what you achieve so since OS Leopard.

    “select group of machines” happens to be every machine they make at the moment.

    • Ben

      Yuck! That’s why Windows is an insecure piece of bloatware – their adherence to full backwards compatibility is admirable but leads to a serious deterioration of quality over 20+ years.

  • Lion’s Air Drop Not Showing Up on Your Mac? Here’s Why…

  • I have a mid-2009 MBP and Lion shows up in the menu but have been clicking on the menu to search for other drops around me – loads of mac around, and it finds none.

  • Grant
  • Rebecca Vance

    whatever happened to being able to send stuff via bluetooth?