How to use Nearby Share on your Android phone

Nearby Share on an Android phone
(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

In June 2020, Google launched a feature that Android users had been anxiously awaiting for years — its answer to Apple's AirDrop. It came in the form of something called "Nearby Share," allowing you to easily share links with other Android users through a streamlined and simple process.

Nearby Share is available on all Android phones, and if you aren't quite sure how to use it, we'll be walking you through all of its ins and outs. And for Windows users, we'll also show you how to use the new Nearby Share beta app for Windows so you can easily move files between your PC and Android phone.

How to enable Nearby Share on your Android phone

The actual process of sharing a file with Nearby Share is pretty straightforward, but before using the feature you need to enable it. Here's how you go about enabling Nearby Share on your Android phone.

1. Open Settings.

2. Tap Connected devices.

3. Head into Connection preferences.

4. Select Nearby Share.

5. Turn on the toggle to Use Nearby Share.

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

After enabling Nearby Share, you need to set your device visibility settings when Nearby Share is in use. There are three options that allow the following individuals to discover your device.

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)
  • Hidden - No one can discover your phone.
  • Contacts - Only your selected contacts can discover your phone.
  • Everyone - Every Android device nearby can discover your phone.

Additionally, this is also where you can rename your device name as you'd like it to appear to other devices using Nearby Share.

Now that you've set up Nearby Share on your Android device, it will automatically be in use according to your preferences whenever you enable Bluetooth and GPS.

How to use Nearby Share on your Android phone

Now that you've enabled Nearby Share, let's get the ball rolling. We'll take a look at how you initiate Nearby Share on your phone to share something with a contact. This "something" can be anything; an image, a Tweet, a link, or even a song from Spotify.

1. Choose something that you'd like to share and hit the share button.

2. Tap the Nearby Share icon that looks like two twisted lines on something you want to share.

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

3. Select the receiving device from the devices nearby.

4. Once the recipient accepts the file, it will start sharing.

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

As we mentioned earlier, you can use Nearby Share to share links, files, and other items on your phone, so feel free to play around with it and use it to share all kinds of things. You can even use Nearby Share to share items from the best Android phones to the best Chromebooks.

How to accept a Nearby Share on your Android phone

That's how you share something with someone else, but what does the whole process look like from the other angle? Of course, the receiving device needs to enable Nearby Share first. After that, this is what you'll see if you're receiving a file via Nearby Share.

1. Tap the Nearby Share notification pop-up.

2. Match the pin with the sender's device.

3. Accept the file if the pin matches.

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Once again, we're treated to a very clean and simple user interface, making Nearby Share wonderfully easy to use.

If you want to accept Nearby Share on your Chromebook, that linked guide will take you through the steps.

How to send apps via Nearby Share on your Android phone

It's really neat that Nearby Share has the ability to send apps from Google Play to other (nearby) Android users. Here's how you can use it to share apps between Android devices.

1. Open the Google Play app from the phone you wish to share from.

2. Tap your profile picture in the top right corner.

3. Select Manage apps & device.

4. Press Send next to the Share apps option.

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

5. From the receiver's phone, follow the same steps as above, but tap Receive next to the Share apps option.

6. From the sender's phone, select the app(s) you wish to send, and tap the send arrow in the upper-right corner.

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

7. From the sender's phone, select the receiver whom you wish to send the app(s).

8. From the receiver's phone, match the pin with the sender and hit Receive to accept the app(s).

How to send apps via Nearby Share

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

After the app has been received, the user receiving it can then install it on their Android phone.

Be careful with your nearby Share settings. It's not the wisest idea to allow everyone in the vicinity to discover and share files to your Android device. You might end up with malicious content or worse.

Personally, I like to make my phone visible to select contacts alone in my Nearby Share settings. This ensures that unknown and untrusted individuals do not end up finding my phone when they've got Nearby Share enabled on their devices.

How to set up Nearby Share on your Windows PC

Windows PCs and Android smartphones have a growing relationship that sees the two operating systems working very cohesively. While apps like Phone Link make it possible to mirror your smartphone and move certain images between devices, Google has made file transfers much easier with the introduction of Nearby Share for Windows. The app is currently in beta, but it works just as well as the Android version. Here's how to enable the app.

1. Download and install Nearby Share Beta for Windows.

2. Open the app and click "Sign in." You can also skip the sign-in process if you'd rather not use your Google account.

3. After signing into your account, return to the app. Enter a name to easily identify your PC.

4. Click "Receiving" to edit your visibility. You can select from everyone, only contacts, your devices, or no one.

5. Check if you want to send Google usage data and crash reports. Click "Done."

(Image credit: Android Central)

(Image credit: Android Central)

How to use Nearby Share Beta for Windows

Despite being on a PC, Nearby Share for Windows works similarly to how it does on an Android phone. Here's how to send and receive files using Nearby Share on a Windows PC.

Sending files:

1. When you find a file you want to send, drag and drop the items into the Nearby Share window.

2. Your PC will begin looking for visible devices. Once a desired device is found, click it to connect, and the file will automatically send.

(Image credit: Android Central)

(Image credit: Android Central)

Receiving files:

1. On your smartphone, follow the previous steps to send files using Nearby Share. Select your PC when it shows up as an available device.

2. On your PC, you can easily change your visibility from the panel on the left or from the settings.

3. When the file is received on your PC, select "Open" to view the file or "Dismiss."

(Image credit: Android Central)

To receive files, Nearby Share doesn't have to be open on your PC. The app is seemingly running in the background, meaning it will still be visible to other devices. Files will be sent to whatever folder you have set to receive them. However, you can change the destination folder (and other settings) from Nearby Share settings, located in the top right corner of the window.

(Image credit: Android Central)

(Image credit: Android Central)

Keep in mind Nearby Share Beta for Windows requires a 64-bit version of Windows 10 or Windows 11. ARM devices are not supported. The app also requires Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in order to work.

Namerah Saud Fatmi
Editor — Accessories, speakers, and tablets

Namerah enjoys geeking out over accessories, gadgets, and all sorts of smart tech. She spends her time guzzling coffee, writing, casual gaming, and cuddling with her furry best friends. Find her on Twitter @NamerahS.