Older MBA (Mid-2011) - How can I get Airdrop to work?

macrabbit

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 3, 2008
41
0
Are there any tricks to get Airdrop in an older MBA (mid-2011 High Sierra 10.13.6) to actually function properly?

Wife and I both have same Mid-2011 MBA running strong, so no need to upgrade. These MBA's have always had Airdrop listed under Finder Favorites, but it's rarely worked properly. I vaguely remember Airdrop working at first, but after OS updates, its very sporadic when another device will even appear, and its basically stopped functioning. Forget transferring between her iPhone XR and the computer. We've resorted to using USB transfers, which is hilariously OG.

Any tips are appreciated.

*edit Airdrop, not Airplay*
 

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macrabbit

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 3, 2008
41
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Forgot to add, I'm open to another wireless method to transfer files between our MBA's, as well between an iPhone XR.
 

flaubert

macrumors 6502
Jun 16, 2015
298
56
Portland, Oregon
Since your text mentions transfer of files, I think you mean AirDrop, not Airplay. You might want to edit your posting title, if possible.

Assuming that Airdrop is what you really want, as I understand it, the hardware determines capability. You either have it, or you don't. And according to the article below, 2011 laptops don't have it:


One thing that you might be able to explore is a USB wireless dongle. I've heard anecdotal reports that some people have been able to purchase a small USB plug-in dongle that has a chipset supported by MacOS and is late enough / advanced enough to do Airdrop. You might have to do some Terminal trickery to disable the built-in chipset, and then let the USB dongle take over wifi and Bluetooth duties. I don't have a part to recommend to you right at hand, but at one point I snagged one of these off Amazon for less than $10. Perhaps when I get home this evening I can find it in a drawer and then I'll be able to suggest a possible part number.

You could also use iCloud or Dropbox or another cloud provider as an intermediary for Mac to Mac transfers. We've used Resilio Sync (formerly BitTorrent Sync) with good success, too.
 

z2000

macrumors member
Jun 3, 2019
40
8
Rotterdam
I remembered 2011 is not support airdrop. However, you can upgrade your WiFi-Bluetooth card with late model, then you will get your MBA to support airdrop.
 

flaubert

macrumors 6502
Jun 16, 2015
298
56
Portland, Oregon
This one would update you to very late model technology, but would definitely require antenna extensions, since the connectors are on a different side of the board:


Here is the ifixit thread on replacing the wifi / Bluetooth card:

https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Air+13-Inch+Mid+2011+AirPort-Bluetooth+Card+Replacement/6360
 

macrabbit

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 3, 2008
41
0
Thanks for the feedback - sounds like an upgrade would be needed. Any suggestions on software that can transfer files like Airdrop?
 

sprague.rod

macrumors member
Sep 29, 2017
82
25
The sad news is no you cannot use Airdrop on the 2011 MBP but there was a free app that would allow wireless file transfers between those models via wifi on the same network called Filedrop I used it myself for a while but it was a bit erratic. It has now been updated to this version; http://www.filedropme.com/rest
This might solve your problem, believe me I understand your frustration.
 

ignatius345

macrumors 68020
Aug 20, 2015
2,454
3,320
You could also use iCloud or Dropbox or another cloud provider as an intermediary for Mac to Mac transfers. We've used Resilio Sync (formerly BitTorrent Sync) with good success, too.
Dropbox is absolutely the best way to do this. Install Dropbox on both machines and create a folder that is shared between both users. Put files into the folder and you'll both have access. Just move whatever file(s) you want into the folder and you're done. They'll appear automatically on the other machine. No "sending files", no third-party dongles. And if you want to see the same files on the iPhone XR, install Dropbox there as well.

Now, supposedly, at some point iCloud Drive is going to get shared folders. But 1) you probably can't install Catalina on a 2011 MacBook Air and 2) even if you can, I highly recommend you don't because Catalina's text rendering on non-retina displays is really really bad. I learned that the hard way on my MacBook Air, and had to downgrade back to Mojave.
 
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sprague.rod

macrumors member
Sep 29, 2017
82
25
I have to agree with Ignatius, Dropbox is pretty foolproof and works well but if you just want an in-house device to device data transfer without data limits Filedrop may still be worth considering.