How to shut down unwanted AirDrop images for good on iOS and macOS

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AirDrop is an easy and handy tool for quickly sharing files between Apple devices. But, unfortunately, its ease of use and integration makes it fairly easy to take advantage of. Since its debut, AirDrop has been used by pranksters and people with more nefarious intentions to send unsolicited images and messages to other Apple users.


While those unsolicited images are normally humorous, they can be annoying. In some cases, these have included very inappropriate and unwanted images. And, theoretically, AirDrop could even be used by bad actors to exploit vulnerabilities on your system or send you malicious files.

And while you can tweak the settings to disable AirDrop receiving access, there’s always the possibility that you’ll enable it accidentally. Luckily, there are a couple of ways that you can shut this down on iOS, iPadOS and macOS. Here’s how.

Disabling AirDrop for good on iOS and iPadOS

restrict AirDrop access on iPhone and iPad
If you want to restrict AirDrop access on iOS or iPadOS, then you’ll need to set up Screen Time and remove AirDrop from Allowed Apps. This is especially useful on shared iPads or a child’s device.

First off, the easiest way to desirable AirDrop on iPhones, iPads and iPod touches is to head to Settings —> General —> AirDrop. Make sure to select Receiving Off.

In iOS 11 and later, you can also disable AirDrop via the Control Center by long-pressing the connectivity pane and then the AirDrop icon.

But, as we mentioned, there’s always the possibility that you can inadvertently reenable AirDrop. Similarly, if you disable AirDrop on a child’s device for parental control reasons, they can turn the feature back on pretty easily.

To disable AirDrop for good without any chance of reenabling it, you can use Screen Time.

  • Open the Settings app on your iOS or iPadOS device.
  • Tap on Screen Time.
  • Tap on Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  • You’ll want to hit the toggle here, if it isn’t on already. You may also need to authenticate with your Screen Time passcode if this is on a child’s device.
  • Under Allowed Apps, find AirDrop.
  • Hit the toggle next to AirDrop to disable it.

Once you disable AirDrop via Screen Time, there won’t be an option to turn it back on via Settings. In fact, the option to do so actually disappears from both Settings —> General and the Control Center menu.

Note that doing this feature may also be why AirDrop isn’t working on your iOS or iPadOS device. Some users may have accidentally disabled AirDrop when setting up Screen Time. So if you’re unable to access AirDrop and you’d like to, just follow the above instructions but make sure AirDrop is enabled.

Disable AirDrop for good on macOS

AirDrop - Terminal
One of the most effective ways to shut down AirDrop on a Mac is to use this command in Terminal.

It’s a good idea to disable AirDrop receiving functionality on your macOS device when you’re not using it. That’s especially true since Macs are more vulnerable to security exploits than iOS or iPadOS devices.

You can do so by the following steps.

  • Open a Finder window.
  • Click on AirDrop in the Favorites menu bar.
  • Next to Allow me to be discovered by, select either No One or Contacts Only.
  • Contacts Only is recommended if you use AirDrop frequently. If you don’t, select No One.
  • You can also temporarily disable AirDrop by simply disable Bluetooth on your Mac, since the feature relies on a Bluetooth connection.

Of course, like with iOS or iPadOS, there’s always the possibility that you can switch on AirDrop by accident. If you’re on a shared Mac and you’d like to disable AirDrop, there are a couple of options.

You can always head to Apple menu —> System Preferences —> Screen Time. Select Content & Privacy and enable Content & Privacy Restrictions. From there, just disable AirDrop.

There’s also a much more “scorched” earth option that relies on the Terminal. If you have particularly clever kids who may find a way around the Content & Privacy Restrictions, you can try the following.

  • Open a Terminal window on your Mac.
  • Copy and paste or exactly type the following command:  defaults write DisableAirDrop -bool YES
  • Hit Return.
  • Then, log out of your Apple account. (Apple Menu —> Log Out.)
  • Finally, log back into your Apple account. At this point, the command should have disabled AirDrop completely.

Of course, if you do need to use AirDrop in the future after using this command, you’ll need to open the Terminal back up.

  • Open a Terminal window.
  • Copy and paste the following command: defaults write DisableAirDrop -bool NO
  • Hit Return.
  • Log out and back into your primary Apple account. AirDrop should be reenabled at this point.

We hope that you found this article helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments. We hope that this helps you avoid unwanted AirDrop images on your Apple devices.


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