How to prevent strangers from sending you files via nearby share and AirDrop


Android has walked through various AirDrop-style approaches over the years, but the most recent is called Sharing nearby. It is an Android to Android file sharing system, although it is not available on all handsets.

If you have a share nearby, you can find it by opening settings and then choosing Google and Device connections. From this screen, press Sharing nearby To configure how the function works: If you don’t want to use it at all, you can turn it off completely using the toggle switch at the top.

Assuming you want to use nearby sharing, you can select Device visibility to choose one of the following three options: All contacts (anyone in your Google contacts list can send you files), Some contacts (only contacts you specify in a list can send files to you), and Hidden (no one can send you files).

The three parameters above are accompanied by caveats. No matter what setting you use, anyone will be able to send you files if they turn on nearby sharing and you turn on near sharing as well. Tap to become visible notification on your phone. If you ignore this notification, no one can see you.

Even if you decide to become visible to anyone nearby, any attempt to transfer a file will result in another confirmation dialog. This also applies to files sent by approved contacts, so there is at least one and sometimes two pop-ups to go through before you find yourself accepting a file from someone else.

Like on iPhones, Bluetooth is another file sharing option on Android, but you’ll need to accept a pairing request and a file transfer prompt before data can be sent. You can’t control this in as much detail as nearby sharing, but you can turn Bluetooth on or off through Connected devices then Connection Preferences in Settings.

macOS

You can find the macOS AirDrop settings in the Finder.

Screenshot: David Nield via Apple

The options for macOS are quite similar to those for iOS and iPadOS: AirDrop is there, as you might expect, and can be customized as needed. Open a window in Finder and you will see the AirDrop link in the navigation pane on the left: click this to see your AirDrop transfers and settings.

In the AirDrop tab, you can click Let me be discovered by choose among Person (no one can see your Mac), Contacts only (only your Apple contacts can see your Mac), and Everybody (anyone using AirDrop can see your Mac). As on mobile devices, if your computer cannot be seen, files cannot be sent to it; if your computer is visible, you will still need to approve any attempt to transfer files.

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