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How to use Nearby Share on your Android phone

Nearby Share
Nearby Share (Image credit: Joe Maring / 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 to other Android users through a streamlined and simple process. Nearby Share is now 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. Let's get started!

Products used in this guide

How to use Nearby Share on your Android phone

To get the ball rolling, we'll take a look at how you initiate Nearby Share on your phone to share something with a contact. It's just as easy as sharing something through any other app on your phone, with the whole process going as follows:

  1. Tap the share icon on something you want to share (it looks like three circles with lines connecting them).
  2. Swipe up on the Android share menu.Source: Android Central

  1. Tap the Nearby Share icon.
  2. Tap Turn on to enable Nearby Share.
  3. Nearby Share will look for a contact to share your link with.Source: Android Central

  1. Any available phones will appear on your phone (in this example, it's Joe's Phone).
  2. Tap the phone you want to share with.Source: Android Central

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? If you're receiving a file via Nearby Share, this is what you'll see.

  1. Tap the Nearby Share notification pop-up.
  2. Tap Turn on.Source: Android Central

  1. Your phone will search for what's being shared with you.
  2. Tap Accept to accept the share.Source: Android Central

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

How to send apps via Nearby Share on your Android phone

A recently-added feature to Nearby Share is the ability to send apps from Google Play to other (nearby) Android users.

  1. Open the Google Play app from the phone you wish to share from.
  2. Tap on your profile pic in the top right corner.
  3. Tap on Manage apps & device.
  4. Tap on Send next to the Share apps option.Source: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central

  1. From the receiver's phone, follow the same steps as above, but tap Receive.
  2. From the sender's phone, select the apps you wish to send, and tap on the green send arrow in the top right corner.Source: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central

  1. From the sender's phone, select the receiver you wish to send apps to.Source: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central

  1. The receiver must then confirm the pairing code.Source: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central

  1. The receiver will select which app(s) to install.

Now the apps will quickly be delivered from the sender to the receiver. And best of all, you don't need to be on the same Wi-Fi or cellular network to share apps — it all works over Bluetooth!

How to customize Nearby Share on your Android phone

Now that you know how to use Nearby Share, it's time to start customizing the feature so that it works exactly the way you want it to. There are a few different things you can tweak, and they're all worth messing around with.

  1. Open the Settings app on your phone.
  2. Scroll down and tap Google.
  3. Tap Device connections.
  4. Tap Nearby Share.Source: Android Central

  1. Tap your name to change which Google account you share from.
  2. Tap Device name to change the name of your device when sharing something.Source: Android Central

  1. Tap Device visibility to change who you can share with.
  2. Tap Data usage to choose if you want to use data, Wi-Fi, or share offline.Source: Android Central

Those last two settings are perhaps the most important, as they greatly impact how you can use Nearby Share. If you're sharing a sensitive file that you don't want to get in the hands of the wrong person accidentally, you can limit Nearby Share to only work with select contacts that you choose. Furthermore, if you don't want other Android users to be able to send you things, you can make your phone hidden from the service entirely.

The data usage page is also quite interesting, especially the option that allows you to exclusively share files without an internet connection. This will slow down the process (especially for larger files), but it's a nice option to have if you're trying to watch your data usage.

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Jeramy is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he's not writing about smart home gadgets and wearables, he's defending his relationship with his smart voice assistants to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.