Enable And Use AirDrop Via Ethernet On Unsupported Macs [OS X Tips]

Enable And Use AirDrop Via Ethernet On Unsupported Macs [OS X Tips]

Not to beat up on AirDrop or anything, but not all Macs can use the zero-configuration file sharing technology from Apple. In order to use AirDrop, you must have a a newer Mac, like a MacBook Pro from 2008 or later, a MacBook Air from 2010 or later, or a Mac Mini from mid 2010 or later (full list below)

Luckily, if you can connect your older Mac to an Ethernet cable and network, you can enable AirDrop on an older Mac. Here’s how.

First, connect that Mac up to an Ethernet network using an Ethernet cable. Then, open Terminal app, which can be found in the Utilities folder, itself inside the Applications folder on your hard drive. Once Terminal is open, paste the following after the command prompt:

defaults write com.apple.NetworkBrowser BrowseAllInterfaces 1

After you hit Return, restart your Mac. Once it’s rebooted completely, use the Go menu in the finder and you’ll see the AirDrop option there as well as in the sidebar of any Finder Window. Activate it by choosing AirDrop from the Go menu, and wait for the other Macs on your network to show up in the Finder. Drag your file over to the Mac you want to share it with, and let the person you’re sending the file to accept the request. Other Macs on the network with AirDrop enabled should also see your Mac, as well, and be able to send you files the same way.

Want to disable AirDrop once you’ve enabled it as above? Simply run the following command in Terminal, and then restart your Mac again.

defaults write com.apple.NetworkBrowser BrowseAllInterfaces 0

The fine folks at Addictive Tips tested this on an older Mac Mini, and it worked. Not having access to an older Mac myself, I haven’t been able to test it, but did want to pass along the info so you could try it at home. Let me know how it goes.

Here’s the full list of supported Macs for AirDrop:

MacBook Pro (Late 2008 or newer)*
MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
MacBook (Late 2008 or newer)*
iMac (Early 2009 or newer)
Mac Mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
Mac Pro (Early 2009 with AirPort Extreme card, or Mid 2010)
* The MacBook Pro (17-Inch Late 2008) and the white MacBook (Late 2008) do not support AirDrop.

Related
  • Tim Meesseman

    Why just ethernet? I’ve gotten this tip to work on wifi Macs as well.

  • CocoProxy

    This article lacks OS requirement info. I’m probably not the only person who doesn’t remember when AirDrop was introduced. I’m assuming this is relevant.

  • bdkennedy

    Actually if you just restart the Finder, you don’t need to reboot.

  • Mike

    I can’t believe this feature exits, this should be the default. I have never used AirDrop because it’s so limiting i.e. only Wi-Fi. I have an iMac connected to my TC via Ethernet and my son has a Mac Book Pro who is of course wireless. AirDrop doesn’t work for us because I’m hooked up vie Ethernet, how stupid Apple, so we just use DropCopy Pro. My sister has the same setup except two MacBook Pros. They should have just bought the name DropCopy and been done with it. Sometimes Apple does the damn stupidest things. Why would you limit what users can do over there network when they already have the functionality built in?

  • roblef

    Actually if you just restart the Finder, you don’t need to reboot.

    Good find – I’ll give that a shot.

  • roblef

    Why just ethernet? I’ve gotten this tip to work on wifi Macs as well.

    Were they ones unsupported by AirDrop in the first place? Cool to know.

  • roblef

    This article lacks OS requirement info. I’m probably not the only person who doesn’t remember when AirDrop was introduced. I’m assuming this is relevant.

    It was introduced in OS X Lion 10.7
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AirDrop

  • roblef
    Sometimes Apple does the damn stupidest things. Why would you limit what users can do over there network when they already have the functionality built in?

    Because the old hardware doesn’t support new protocols. Unless you think Apple should retrofit every old Mac with wireless chips? Go ask your car manufacturer to make your old model match today’s features. If you had a clue, you wouldn’t make such stupid comments.

    Really? You need to call people names because they don’t have the same perspective as you? That’s just rude.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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