Data Doctors: Tips for mobile file sharing

Q: Is there a way to use something like Airdrop to send files to Android phones?

A: The ability to quickly and wirelessly send pictures, videos or data files between devices is extremely useful and can be done across a variety of devices.

Airdrop is Apple’s proprietary method to exchange files between Apple devices and can’t be used to send files directly to Android devices, but there are other options.

Android’s Nearby Share

Nearby Share is a recent feature added to the Android operating system, which is their counterpart to Apple’s Airdrop.

It’s an easy way to share photos, videos, documents or apps with others that are nearby using devices running Android 6.0 (released in 2015) or later.

To use it, you’ll need to make sure both your device and the device you’re sharing with have turned on the ‘Nearby Share’ option in Settings.

The actual steps for each device can be slightly different, so the easiest way to find the setting on your device is to search for ‘Nearby Share’ in the Settings menu.

Once you’ve confirmed both devices are set up, whenever you tap the ‘share’ option in virtually any app or file, the ‘Nearby Share’ button should always appear as an option.

Once tapped, your device will scan the area for devices that are nearby (within a foot or less) that are set up to accept files. The recipient will see a notification asking if they want to accept the item being shared to start the transfer.

Large files such as videos can take some time to transfer in this way, so you may want to share them another way. You can share files of virtually any size with Nearby Share, but the maximum file size may vary depending on your device and network connection.

You can also use Nearby Share to share files with devices that are not running Android, such as a Windows Computer.

Sharing With Windows Computers

The Nearby Share app is designed for 64-bit Windows 10 or 11 computers and extends the sharing option to your computer to and from your Android smartphone or tablet.

Once you’ve installed the app, anything you share to your computer will be saved in the ‘Downloads’ folder unless you go into the app’s settings to change where you want them to be saved.

Conversely, you can open the Nearby Share app on your Windows computer to share files with your Android devices as long as they are close by and unlocked.

Sharing Between Apple and Android Devices

Neither of the platform sharing tools from Apple and Android will allow cross-platform sharing, but there are several third-party options available if you need this type of flexibility.

One of the easiest to use is a web tool called Snapdrop, as long as both devices are connected to the same network. You simply visit the website on both devices and get assigned a random name to make the secure connection, which means nothing is uploaded to a remote server first.

Ken Colburn is founder and CEO of Data Doctors Computer Services. Ask any tech question on Facebook or Twitter.

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