Note: Some of our instructions might not be the exact same on your Android phone as manufacturers like Samsung and LG tend to tweak the Settings menu to look a little different from stock Android.
How to Turn on Nearby Share
The easiest and universal way to find Nearby Share is to head to your phone’s Settings menu, scroll down to Google, tap on Device connections, and here you should see Nearby Share. If it’s not there, you most likely do not have the feature yet. The other way to find it is through Settings > Connected devices > Connection preferences > Nearby Share, but this is where the menus might look different based on your phone.
Sticking with the first approach of finding it in the Google section of your Settings menu, tap on Nearby Share. Toggle it on, and in the process, you can change your Device Name and choose your Device Visibility. If you don’t want to share your name when sending files or photos with other nearby devices, then it’s a good idea to change your device name to something more nondescript. You can only use Nearby Share with people in your contacts list.
In terms of Device Visibility, you have three options: All Contacts, Some Contacts, and Hidden. Choosing the first option means your phone will be visible to your contacts that have Nearby Share turned on, and you’ll see devices near you with Nearby Share open. Some Contacts, as the name suggests, lets you toggle select people in your contacts list to use Nearby Share with. And Hidden means no one nearby will be able to see your device, but you can still see your contacts’ devices if they are trying to share something nearby.
There is a big caveat with Nearby Share. To use it, you’ll need to have the email addresses for all your contacts (the one they use for their Google Account) stored in their contact information. Alternatively, if your contact has verified their Google Account with a phone number, you’ll be able to use Nearby Share with them. To connect your phone number to your Google Account, head here on your phone and toggle on your device. It might take some time to authenticate.
Back in the Nearby Share settings, you can also choose whether you want to send stuff via Data, Wi-Fi Only, or Without Internet. If you don’t have an unlimited data plan, it might be a good idea to choose the latter two options.
How to Use Nearby Share
Whenever you want to share something with a friend or family member nearby, whether it’s an address in Google Maps, a photo, a file, or a web link, simply tap the share button, and from the Share Menu, find and tap on Nearby Share. Your phone will start searching for devices nearby you can share with.
The person you’re sharing with will need to be relatively close, and they may need to tap on a pop-up notification to become visible to you. You and the person you’re sharing stuff with may get a prompt to turn on Bluetooth and Location if they aren’t on already.
Once they’re visible, tap their device name (they will need to accept), and that’s it! The sharing process will begin and it should only take a few seconds, depending on what you’re sending.
Eventually, Google says Nearby Share will work on Chromebooks, allowing you to quickly send stuff from your phone to your ChromeOS-powered laptop with just a few taps.
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