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6 ways to transfer files from your Mac to your iOS device

Kirk McElhearn | April 8, 2016
Use one of these methods to transfer a file from your Mac to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

I recently wrote about 9 ways you can transfer files from one Mac to another, which is useful if you have, say, an iMac and a laptop, and need to pass files back and forth. But you may also need to transfer files from your Mac to your iOS device, which isn’t as simple: iOS isn’t designed to accept just any file, and you don’t have the same options to open files with different apps. In this article, I’m going to show you 6 ways you can move files of various types to your iOS devices.

AirDrop

airdrop
Choose which app to open a file you receive with AirDrop. Here, I’ve sent a PDF file to my iPhone, and all of the above apps can display it.

AirDrop is Apple’s technology for sharing files across devices. You can use it to transfer files from one Mac to another, and also use it to transfer files from a Mac to an iOS device, or from one iOS device to another. On your Mac, choose Go > AirDrop in the Finder, and then, on your iOS device, make sure AirDrop is activated in the Control Center (swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access this setting). You can choose to allow transfers from Contacts Only or from Everyone; it’s best to choose the former.

Your iOS device needs to be awake for AirDrop to be active. On the Mac, drag a file onto the icon for your iOS device in the AirDrop window. On your iOS device, you’ll see a menu offering to open the file; this menu lists the apps that can open the file type.

For some types of files, AirDrop isn’t very helpful. For example, if I try to send an AAC audio file from my Mac to my iPhone, the latter offers to open it with apps such as Voice Memos, Evernote, Dropbox, etc., but not with the iOS Music app, or other music player apps on my device. So you can’t transfer all types of files that your iOS device can use (but see below for a way to transfer audio and video files).

Email

Using email is a good way to send small files to an iOS device. Just create a new email addressed to yourself and add the file(s) as attachment to the message. Tap the attachment in the message to download and then open the file. Depending on the file type, you may or may not be able to open files on your device. Naturally, you’ll want to do this when you’re on a Wi-Fi network to avoid potentially using a lot of cellular data if you’re sending large files.

 

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