No AirDrop? You’re not alone.

This weekend I upgraded my MacBook Air (Original Generation 1) to OSX Lion (10.7). One of the features I was looking forward to testing was AirDrop. After all, it is a new tech that allows you to share files (over WiFi) with Macs in the area without any sort of previous network configuration. Heck, you don’t even need to be on the same WiFi network. Such a minor thing can be so AMAZINGLY useful. There was only one problem… no AirDrop to be seen.

I did some digging around and found a very useful knowledge base article from Apple; “OS X Lion: Can I use AirDrop with my computer?“. The short version is that AirDrop only works with machines that are fairly new (2008-2010, depending on model). The entire list is:

  • MacBookPro (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)

So if your Mac is older than what is listed above (like my Early 2008 Air)… you don’t get AirDrop.

In my digging, I couldn’t find any explanation as to why this limitation was imposed. My only assumption is that the older models lacked some sort of hardware feature (probably in the WiFi chipset) that AirDrop uses. At the end of the day, it sucks if you were wanting to use the functionality, but as you never had it to begin with, there is no loss. While some would claim that Apple is trying to force people to upgrade (which is always possible) it simply could be impossible to support EVERY piece of hardware. If you want to complain about Lion, let’s chat about Rosetta…

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4 Responses

  1. grant says:

    Can I buy a newer chip set to work with my macbook pro 3,1 2.ghz core 2 duo? Can I buy a newer 802.11n/ieee wireless card?

    • Jon says:

      I do not believe so, sorry. It’s my understanding that everything wireless is built into the motherboard of the MacBook Pro, making upgrade/replacement impossible (short of replacing the entire motherboard – which each unit is custom built for that specific generation and the newer ones would likely not fit).

      Apple also does not, of course, make external wireless cards.

  2. Jim says:

    The wireless card is too old to support simultaneous wireless networks. The newer cards support an Ad Hoc connection as well as a full wireless connection at the same time.

    Take care man

    • Jon says:

      Yea, that’s sort of what I figured. I also found out (by random chance) that you can be doing networky type stuff AND airdrop at the same time (though extremely slow). Provided both machines support Airdrop.


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