What is Google Nearby Share and how do I use it?

Google’s Nearby Share is a way for Android users to quickly share content with each other between devices, similar to what Apple offers with AirDrop for iOS, iPadOS and macOS users.


The Nearby Share feature allows for easy and reliable sharing across thousands of Android phone models and it works online and offline.

Nearby Share also works with Chromebooks and Windows PCs, it’s especially handy if you use one alongside an Android phone, enabling you to share files with just a few taps.

Here’s everything you need to know about Google’s Nearby Share including how it works, what devices it works with and how to use it.

Google


How does Google Nearby Share work?

Google Nearby Share enables Android users to instantly share files, links, pictures and more with Android users nearby while protecting their privacy.

Rather than having to open individual apps, like Messages, WhatsApp or Gmail, find the file you want to share and attach it, Nearby Share lets you share content with just a couple of taps.

A list of devices will appear in your proximity when using the Nearby Share feature, which you can share content with. When you tap on the receiver, they will be notified with the option to accept or decline the file you are sharing.

Google’s Nearby Share will then automatically choose the best protocol for fast and easy sharing using Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, WebRTC or peer-to-peer WiFi. This means you can use Nearby Share even when you are completely offline.

What is Google Nearby Share and how do I use it? photo 2
Google

How do you use Nearby Share?

To use Nearby Share, you’ll need to make sure the feature is turned on. It requires Android 6.0+ and you’ll need to turn on both Bluetooth and Location on your Android device.

You’ll then need to head into the Settings app on your Android device > Tap Google > Device Connections > Nearby Share > Turn On. To turn Nearby Share off, tap on Settings then turn off Nearby Share.

How to share a file/photo using Nearby Share

When you are ready to share a file, photo, webpage or whatever else you might want to share, open the file and tap on the share icon. You’ll then need to select Nearby.

Hold your phone close to the device you want to share with and under the “Looking for nearby devices”, tap on the contact and then tap Send. A message will appear saying “Sending”, once “Sent” appears, you can tap close.

How to receive a file/photo using Nearby Share

When you want to receive a file, photo or another piece of content from someone’s phone, you’ll need to ask them to follow the steps above.

When they hit Send on the content they are sharing, you’ll get a notification that someone is sharing content with you.

If you haven’t already, to make your device visible, tap the notification. If you’re prompted to turn on Nearby Share, Bluetooth, or Location, tap Turn on. To get the content, just tap Accept.

How to enable Nearby Share on a Chromebook

On your Chromebook, at the bottom right, select the time and then Settings. On the left, select Connected devices. Next to ‘Nearby Share’, select Set up. Choose a name for your device and select Done.

You can then select your device visibility. This works in the same way on both Android and Chromebook, and you can learn more about the different options below.

Nearby Share to share passwords-1

How to use Nearby Share with a Windows PC

Wireless file sharing between your Android devices and your Windows machine has never been easier with Nearby Share for Windows. We had a go while it was in beta and it worked as promised. With the full, stable release out now, here’s how you can take advantage of it.

nearby-share-for-windows-official

  1. Visit this website to download Nearby Share for Windows.
    • Your PC must be running an x64 installation of Windows 10 or later.
  2. Run the installer and open the application.
  3. Log in with the same Google Account you use on your mobile.
  4. Choose your device visibility and give your PC a name.
    • You can set your PC to be seen by everyone around, by your contacts, or by your devices. You can also hide your PC from visibility.
  5. Start sharing. Select a file on your Android or PC, then initiate the process on both devices.

Once everything is set up, you’ll be able to share files between your Android devices and your PC wirelessly, just like you can with an Android phone or Chromecast. Transferred files will appear in your Downloads folder on either device by default – you can set a custom destination on your PC in the app’s settings by clicking on the gear icon at the top-right corner.

How to share your Wi-Fi password with Nearby Share

There are various different ways to share your home Wi-Fi password with other people. One of them is via Nearby Share.

This is a great way to give your password to others because it means you don’t need to worry about actually knowing the password off the top of your head or wandering off to try to find it from the back of your router. Instead, you can just press a few buttons to share it.

To use Nearby Share for sharing your Wi-Fi password just follow these steps:

  1. Go to settings and look for Network and Internet
  2. Then tap Wi-Fi settings
  3. Select your Wi-Fi network
  4. Look for the share button
  5. Tap that and on the next page you should see an option for Nearby Share
  6. Tap that to turn Nearby Share on temporarily
  7. You can then choose settings of who can see your device – friends (i.e. people in your phone’s contacts), everyone or your own devices
  8. Tap to turn on
  9. Your visitor should then be notified that you are sharing, they should tap that notification and select to turn on Nearby Share, Bluetooth and location settings
  10. Then follow on-screen steps

nearby share songs-1

Sharing apps using Nearby Share

As you can see Nearby Share is useful for much more than just sharing files. It can also be used to share all sorts of other things, including apps.

If you have some favourite apps on your phone that you want to share with friends then you can do it using this method. It’s far easier than getting them to search or sending them individual links to the apps.

To do it:

  1. Open up Google Play on your phone
  2. Tap your profile photo
  3. From there select Manges apps and devices
  4. Select “send apps” then highlight the apps you want to send and press the send button
  5. The other person needs to do the same but click “receive apps” instead

nearby share songs

Sharing songs via Nearby Share

As well as files, Wi-Fi passwords and apps you can also use Nearby Share for just simple things like sharing your favourite tunes. If you’re using Spotify (for example), you can share a song or playlist easily with Nearby Share.

In the now playing view just click the sharing button and then click on “more” at the bottom of the sharing options. You will then see a nearby icon on the next page (next to the copy button). If you click that you’ll then have the option to send the song. Assuming that someone is ready to receive your taste in music of course.

How to choose who to share content with

Google says Nearby Share was built with privacy at its core, allowing Android users to send and receive files without sharing contact information. Users can send and receive anonymously and you can adjust your privacy settings and who sees you in your phone’s Quick Settings.

Open your phone’s Settings app > Tap Google > Device connections > Nearby Share > Device visibility.

It’s possible to choose between “All Contacts”, “Some Contacts” and “Hidden” when it comes to your visibility on Nearby Share.

Selecting “All Contacts” will mean your device is visible to your contacts while your screen is on and unlocked. If you select “Some Contacts”, you’ll see a list of the contacts near you that have Nearby Share open and have chosen to be visible. You’ll then need to toggle on the contacts in the list that you want to be able to see you when sharing a file.

In order for contacts to appear in the Nearby Sharing list, you’ll need to have added their email address associated with their Google Account to their contact information.

If you select “Hidden”, your device is only visible while Nearby Share is open.

Problems with Nearby Share?

If you’re having problems with the Nearby Share feature, try the following:

  • Check Bluetooth is turned on for both phones
  • Check Location is turned on for both phones
  • Bring the devices close together, within 300mm (1 foot) of each other
  • Turn Airplane mode on and off
  • Turn your phone off and back on
  • Wait until no one else is sharing content with the other phone

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