How to Wirelessly Share Files With ANY iOS Device

Ever needed to send a file from one iOS device to another? You could email it, but not all student devices are set up with email, and some files (especially video) are just too big to email. You could plug the device into a laptop and transfer the files via USB, but that can be slow, and what if you accidentally sync your device with iTunes and start transferring apps you don’t need to or from your computer? Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just beam them from one device to another? Well, you can! Here are three ways to do it.

1. AirDrop – If you have an iPad Mini, a fourth generation iPad, or an iPad Air that is running iOS 7, you can take advantage of AirDrop. This proprietary technology was originally developed by Apple for Macs, but it landed on iOS devices in the Fall of 2013. Unfortunately, it does not work between iOS and Macs, but it is still a great feature to have. It is activated from the new Control Center, and is found in the sharing menu for almost all recent apps. Read more about AirDrop here.


2. Instashare – Before AirDrop, this was my go-to app. It works great on anything running iOS 5 or newer and is free between iOS devices, unless you want to pay the 99c to remove the in-app ads. As a bonus, there is also a Mac and an Android app that lets you share files to those devices too. The Mac app, however, is $2.99. It used to be free, but everyone has to pay the bills right? 🙂 A Windows version is listed as coming soon. Once installed, look for Instashare in the sharing menu of your favorite apps.


3. Flick – The relative newcomer to the wireless file sharing scene is Flick, and it may just be the best of them all because Flick is completely free and works with iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux devices. It doesn’t get much more flexible than that! Flick also has a number of additional features that may (or may not) be useful in the classroom. For instance, the ability to send the file to multiple devices at once via the Broadcast option. Very useful for group work. However, the Auto-Destruct feature that lets you add an auto-delete function to the file you are sending, (a la Snapchat), is going to be more of a challenge for educators to control. Still, there are many good uses for this app, and it is hoping to remain ad-free via voluntary donations that can be made in the form of in-app purchases.


What else do I need to know?

  • In order for your devices to “see” each other, you will likely need Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth turned on to make them discoverable. Additionally, (and this does not apply to AirDrop), but Instashare or Flick will also need to be open on both devices so that they can “see” each other.
  • You can send more than just photos and videos. You can send a PDF, Keynote, or Pages file. If you use AirDrop, simply go to the sharing menu of the app you are using. If you use Instashare or Flick, you have to send the file to that app first, and then send it to the device you want to share it with.
  • Where does the file go? If you AirDrop it, the file goes to the same app that it came from. So, if you send a photo or video, it will go to the other person’s Camera Roll. If you use Flick or Instashare, the file is stored in that app, but you have the option to open it in another app of your choice if you need to work on it some more.
  • If your school has a “guest” network, you may have issues sending files on that network. It just depends on how it is configured, but some are restricted and won’t allow that, much in the same way that some guest networks don’t allow AirPlay.

Wireless file sharing on iOS can be a great way for students to collaborate in the classroom, or even to turn in work to a teacher device or computer. There are other apps that do this, but these are among the most stable and reliable ways that I have found to exchange files on iPads. Do you use something else? What works for you?

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