How to keep strangers from sending you files over a nearby region and AirDrop

Android has cycled through various AirDrop-style approaches over the years, but Nearby Share is the latest name. It is an Android-to-Android file-sharing system, although it is not available on all mobile devices.

If you have Nearby Share, you can find it by opening Settings and then selecting Google and Machine connections. From this screen, tap Share nearby to configure how the feature works: If you do not want to use it at all, you can disable it completely by using the toggle version at the top.

Assuming you want to take advantage of Nearby Share, you can select device visibility to select one of three options: All know (Anyone on your Google contact list can send you files), Some people know (can only send you the addresses you specified in a list of files), and Hidden (no one can send you files).

The three scenarios above come with caveats. Regardless of the setting you use, anyone will be able to send you files if they turn on Nearby Share and you turn on Nearby Share as well – this will look like Tap on it to highlight message on your phone. If you pay attention to that message, no one will see you.

Even if you decide to be visible to anyone nearby, any file move will prompt another confirmation dialog box. This also applies to files sent by allowed acquaintances, so there are at least one and sometimes two pop-ups available before you can manually accept a file from someone else.

As on iPhones, Bluetooth is an alternative to file sharing on Android, but you need to accept pair request and file transfer quickly before data can be transferred. You can’t control this as closely as Nearby Share, but you can turn Bluetooth on or off via Connected devices then Connection options in Options.


You can find the macOS AirDrop options in Finder.

Screenshot: David Nield via Apple

The options for macOS are very similar to those for iOS and iPadOS: AirDrop is here, as you’d expect, and can be customized as needed. Open a window in Finder, and you will see the AirDrop connection in the navigation pane on the left – click on it to see your AirDrop gestures and settings.

At the AirDrop button, you can click Let me find out with to choose from no one (no one can see your Mac), Contact only (only your Apple acquaintances can see your Mac), and Everyone (Anyone using AirDrop will see your Mac). As with mobile devices, if your computer cannot view, files cannot be sent to it; if your computer is visible, you still need to consent to the transfer of any file you attempted.