Send files via iCloud and AirDrop – how it works!

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You would like to exchange your data between different Apple products – and that as easy as possible? We show you three practical solutions that save time and work comfortably. Look forward to notes about data exchange via iCloud, AirDrop, and an external hard drive.Exchange files between Mac and Smartphone (Image: Apple, manufacturer, montage)

Who does not know it? Pictures or text documents should be transferred from one Mac to another, onto the iPad – or even in the opposite direction from the iPhone to the computer. Not infrequently, the good old e-mail to your own address as the safest and most comfortable way of transmission endeavors. For larger amounts of data, preferably still an external hard drive or a USB stick are used. With AirDrop and iCloud, Apple offers very fast and convenient ways to quickly, securely and easily exchange data between different Apple devices.

Hard disk data exchange

Let’s assume you have a large collection TV recordings, own video recordings or digitized VHS tapes and backup copies of films on DVD. You want to copy them to your new computer. As you may know, video files of all kinds, even if they are in a compressed format, require a lot of storage space. So you should not just cache them in the cloud – not just because it takes a lot of time, but also because it’s error-prone. Even the way via a Wi-Fi connection and network cable is not recommended. Incidentally, this does not only apply to video files, but also to other extensive databases of many hundreds of gigabytes or even several terabytes. For private users in this case, the above-mentioned “sneaker network” is still the first choice. Not only does this work with a correspondingly large hard disk, it also speeds up the process considerably faster, and you also get a backup copy.


iCloud calls itself Apple’s on-line storage service, which presented the enterprise for the first time 2011. The synchronization of data works not only on the Mac, iPhone and iPad, but also with Windows PCs.

Which hard drive you use depends not only on the amount of data, but also on your computers. If you own these fast USB 3.0, USB-C or Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 3 interfaces, then choose a suitable hard disk to take advantage of the speed advantages over slower interfaces. Current MacBooks may also require an adapter from USB 3.0 to USB-C or from Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 to connect the drive.

File Exchange with AirDrop

In the second case It’s about quickly swapping a single or multiple files between Macs or between a Mac and an iPhone or iPad. For example, you might want to send some photos or an interesting newspaper article to a friend or colleague, or have them look at a text you write.


AirDrop enables wireless data exchange within a Wi-Fi network that Apple provides between Mac, iPhone, and iPad devices. The configuration of the proprietary format is automatic, the transmission range is up to 9 meters, depending on the environment.

Of course you could send the files by e-mail. Far more elegant and faster with AirDrop. The files are copied via WLAN and Bluetooth from one device to the other.

In order for this to work flawlessly in practice as well, some luckily relatively trivial requirements must be fulfilled. Both devices must be in the same WLAN and AirDrop compatible. Compatible are Macs running OS X 10.7 or higher and iPhones and iPads running at least iOS 7.

General Clipboard

Even if you have uncomplicated data from one Mac to another or from the iPhone or iPad on the Mac, there is a simple and quick solution – the “general clipboard”. For example, if you are working on a text on a Mac with Microsoft Word and want to edit the text on the MacBook or on the iPad with another program, it is sufficient to copy the text to the “general clipboard” with the key combination [cmd] – [c] Copy and paste on the other device again. However, to take advantage of this highly convenient feature, it is necessary to have the compatible hardware and software.

Your Macs and iOS devices must support “handoff,” a feature that makes it possible makes work on the other device exactly where you started before. This is the case with a Mac running OS X Yosemite and later, and an iOS iOS 8 or later. In addition, you must be logged in to the same Apple ID on each device.

Swap with iCloud Drive

If you want to have files available on other devices such as Windows PCs If these are not in the same Wi-Fi network, then the way via Air Drop is unfortunately blocked. Thanks to online storage services, you no longer need to rely on the dispatch of hard disks for a long time in this case. Just use iCloud Drive, Apple’s “online hard drive”. Upload the data to them and easily retrieve them on the other computer or iOS device.

To use iCloud Drive, your Mac must be running at least OS X 10.10 Yosemite and the iOS device at iOS 8 or newer. ICloud for Windows requires a Windows PC with Windows 7 or higher. Of course, you also need enough iCloud storage that Apple likes to sell you, and anyone who needs to access the data later needs an Apple ID.

Exchange files with the Android device

To swap files between a Mac and an Android device, connect it with a standard USB cable and set the transfer method in Android. Select here MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) and not PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol).

Android File Transfer

To share data with an Android smartphone, you need the Android File Transfer app, which you can download for free:

To transfer data to and from the Android device, “Android File Transfer” is required for the Mac, for Samsung devices “Samsung Kies”. These apps allow you to access the file system of the Android device and copy files. Alternatively, you can also use a Micro SD card for data exchange, as many Android devices have a corresponding slot. On the Mac, you’ll need a commercially available memory card reader and possibly a micro-SD adapter.

Use Other Cloud Services

Instead of iCloud Drive, you can also use other cloud services, such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox. Both the Mac and Windows PC, iPhone, iPad, and Android devices have apps available from these services. If you want to exchange only a few and smaller files, such as word processing and PDF documents or some photos, then the space available at the services is free but limited.

Workshop: Exchange Data via AirDrop

Workshop: Swapping Data to Clipboard

Workshop: Swap files via iCloud

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