How to Fix iPhone AirDrop Contacts Only not Working | 3 Ways

There must be something wrong if you find iPhone AirDrop Contacts Only not working. Try 3 methods in this guide to fix it. Optionally, an AirDrop alternative is also available for you.


By Demi / Updated on June 8, 2023

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AirDrop for Contacts Only not working

AirDrop is not working when I select the Contacts Only option. It doesn’t get selected, let alone work. I’m running iOS 12.1.4. I’ve encountered a similar problem on my iPad as well. Did someone else also encounter a similar issue?

- Question from Apple Community

AirDrop is one of the new features since iOS 7 was released, which allows you to share files with others wirelessly. If you have used to using AirDrop, you must be familiar with the difference between the two receiving settings - Contacts Only and Everyone.


AirDrop Icon

For some security issues, you may prefer to choosing Contacts Only to transfer items to someone who is in your contacts. However, what can you do if you find iPhone AirDrop Contacts Only not working? Find solutions in this guide to help you out.

Part 1. How can AirDrop Contacts Only work?

The Contact Only option is pretty useful, but any false preparations may make it challenging to get it work properly. Therefore, the followings are the minimum steps required in order to avoid AirDrop Contacts Only won’t work.

• Prerequisite. Before enabling Contacts Only feature on two devices, make sure the two devices have one of the other’s iCloud addresses in the contact list. If iPhone is not showing AirDrop contacts, you can head to AirDrop not showing contacts name to seek help.
• iCloud. Both iPhones need to be logged in iCloud, so that Apple can know which addresses to broadcast to nearby AirDrop devices.
• Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on both iDevices need to be enabled. Personal Hotspot needs to be turned off.
• Distance. Make sure the two devices are within Bluetooth and Wi-Fi range during the airdrop process.

After re-checking these requirements above, you can restart your iPhone and try again. If the issue still remains, head to the next part in this guide to find other solutions.

Part 2. 3 simple solutions to fix AirDrop Contacts Only not working

You can try the three simple solutions on both source and target iPhone if AirDrop Contacts Only is still not working even if you set up it properly.

Solution 1. Set AirDrop receiving setting to Everyone

The easiest way you can try is to set AirDrop receiving setting to Everyone. The way is the same as you set it to Contacts Only. Go to Control Center on your iPhone > Press and hold the wireless control box > Tap AirDrop > Choose Everyone.

Access AirDrop

For the sake of your privacy, you can put your AirDrop receiving settings to Contacts Only or Receiving Off at any time to control who can see your device and send you content over AirDrop.

Solution 2. Reset network settings

Chances are that some unknown network errors, including the error that cause AirDrop Contacts Only not work. Reset network settings can be a nice try. Noted that reset network settings will erase all Wi-Fi passwords and Bluetooth connection history.

To reset network settings, head to Settings on your iPhone > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Reset > Reset Network Settings.

Reset Network Setting On iPhone

Solution 3. Hard reset iPhone

Hard reset iPhone is also one of the most effortless ways to fix some software issues. If AirDrop is not working when select Contacts Only option, you can also try this way. The steps differ from the types of your iPhone. Follow the instructions below to make it.

For iPhone 8 and later: Press the Volume + button and release it quickly. Press the Volume - button and release it quickly. Press the Power button for seconds until the Apple logo appears.
For iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus: Press both the Power button and Volume - button for seconds. Release it when you see the Apple logo.
For iPhone 6 or earlier: Press both the Power button and the Home button for seconds until the Apple logo appears.

Hard Reset iPhone

After hard resetting your iPhone, you can enable AirDrop again to try if you have gotten rid of the issue. Alternatively, a better transfer tool is suggested in the next part.

Part 3. Recommended: Transfers files with AirDrop alternatives

Aside from complicated settings and steps when using AirDrop, the limitations of AirDrop may also hold you back. For example, you may seek other software when you intend to airdrop multiple photos and so on. You may need an AirDrop-like tool to help you share files between two iDevices.

Share files between two iDevices wirelessly with FoneTool app

As one of the best AirDrop alternatives, FoneTool allows you to transfer multiple files at a time between two iOS devices. Without complicated settings, you can share files using the app with no error or effort.

Search the name in the App Store or scan the QR code to download and install the FoneTool app. Let's take share photos from iPhone to iPhone as an example.

MBackupper QR code

Step 1. Put two iPhones close to each other > Turn on Wi-Fi on both iPhones > Choose Connect Device in the FoneTool app > Establish a connection between two iPhones.

Connect iPhone

Step 2. On the source iPhone, click File Transfer > Browse and choose the photos or other files you'd like to transfer > Click Send to begin the transfer.

Tap Send Photos

Step 3. On the target iPhone, receive the files, and you can go to the relative apps to have a check. For example, photos and videos are in the Photos app.

Transfer files among iDevices and computer with FoneTool 

Here comes FoneTool - a powerful transfer tool for iOS users to support you to achieve iPhone to iPhone/iPad transfer, iPhone to Windows PC transfer, and vice versa.

Compared with AirDrop, FoneTool has these features and advantages:
• More supported files. It allows you to transfer music, photos (including images in camera roll, photo library, photo video, and photostream), videos (movies, TV shows, music videos), music, messages, and contacts.
• Fast transfer speed. Compared with the wireless transfer, a stable USB connection between your iPhone and computer promises a faster transfer speed. It just takes you 3 seconds to finish transferring 100 photos.
• More transfer types. Besides transferring selective files, the function iPhone to iPhone Transfer enables you to transfer everything from one iPhone to a new one.

Free download FoneTool to your computer by clicking the icon below. Then you can follow the tutorials to transfer files from iPhone to iPhone.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7
Secure Download

Transfer from the source iPhone to computer
Step 1. Connect the source iPhone to computer with USB > Launch FoneTool > Get to iPhone to PC from Phone Transfer page > Click Start Transfer to continue.

Transfer To Computer

Step 2. Click the + icon to preview and select the wanted files > Click OK to confirm.

Choose Photos

Step 3. Choose a storage path as you like from Transfer Settings. You are able to choose a local folder or an external hard drive to save the transfer file > Click Start Transfer to start the process.


When the task is completed, unplug the source iPhone.

Transfer from computer to the target iPhone
Step 4. Connect the target iPhone to computer > Click PC to iPhone in FoneTool.

Transfer To iPhone

Step 5. Click the + icon to open the files you just transferred to computer > Click Start Transfer > Click OK when the transfer completed.

Transfer Completed

FoneTool is also a professional backup tool to backup your iPhone selectively or fully. Hope you can discover more in FoneTool on your own.


That’s all for iPhone AirDrop Contacts Only not working. Hopefully, the solutions above can help you out. Besides, it is suggested to try FoneTool especially when you’d like to transfer a bunch of files. If this guide helps you, please share it with more people.

Demi · Editor
Demi is an editor of FoneTool group as well as a good advisor in the area of iOS-related issues. She does well in finding solutions to people's problems. She enjoys traveling, gardening, and watching movies. She spends most of her free time with her pet and family.