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Tried launching AirDrop and a weird error that says “The operation can't be completed because the item can't be found” appears? The error message gives no hint on how to fix it and can be frustrating. Additionally, Apple's resources on these edge-case errors can be generic.

Well, you are in luck, because I went through hell in your place and gathered all the possible solutions to this problem.

Confirming the problem

There are a few ways that this error can show and to confirm if you have the same issue I am trying to help solve, you should encounter one or more of the following

  • AirDrop is not shown on your Finder's sidebar, even though it was there before. You can't find it in Finder's preferences either.
  • You launch AirDrop through Spotlight, and the dialog with the text “The operation can't be completed because the item can't be found” shows.
  • You can't see the problem Mac from another Mac's AirDrop.
  • You locate the AirDrop icon at /System/Library/CoreServices/ but opening it gives you the same error.

Congrats, you are cursed with the immensely frustrating issue. Lucky you have me to help, even though I had no one.

Disclaimer I will bear no responsibility for any problems you encounter as a result of this guide. Please follow at your own risk. I recommend backing up before attempting anything that might break your Mac.

I ordered the possible solutions in order of difficulty, so you can try the simplest to the most complicated solutions, and hopefully, the easy ones will solve your problem.

Solution 1: Check your IT policy

Are you on a work or school-issued machine? Many IT policies disable AirDrop for security reasons.

Even if you managed to use AirDrop before, it could have been disabled after some time or due to policy changes. I highly recommend checking with your IT department if AirDrop is being blocked.

If your IT explicitly tells you that AirDrop is allowed or if you are on a personal Mac, move to the next solution.

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Solutions 2: Check if AirDrop has been disabled

Check if AirDrop has been disabled. Open the Terminal app, and enter defaults read DisableAirDrop. The result should give you 1 if it has been disabled. If you get a 0, it means it has not been disabled, so please move on to the next solution.

If AirDrop has indeed been disabled, enter defaults write DisableAirDrop -boolean NO, log out, and back in and your AirDrop should work again.

Solution 3: Reset NVRAM or PRAM

NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory) and PRAM (Parameter RAM) on your Mac stores certain settings and access them quickly. Resetting it might solve your problem.

Follow the instructions here or if you are too lazy to click:

Shut down your Mac, then turn it on and immediately press and hold these four keys together: Option, Command, P, and R. You can release the keys after about 20 seconds, during which your Mac might appear to restart.

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Solution 4: Remove software that might affect AirDrop functionality

To determine if this is the case, you should restart your Mac in safe mode by following the instructions here. If AirDrop works in safe mode, there is a good chance a software is causing the error. Think back on the apps you installed at the time the error started and start with apps that might affect WiFi sharing.

Solution 5: Get support

If you are absolutely sure AirDrop is not blocked by IT, then first, get them to troubleshoot the error for you. For those who are on personal Macs, Apple support is the way to go. The easiest way to do this is to go here and choose Mac > Apps & Software > AirDrop > Continue and choose either Chat or Phone.

They will likely give you unhelpful solutions which include bringing your Mac to the Apple Store or reinstalling the OS, but those are probably your only choices.


Did this fix your problem? Let me know which solution did in the comments. Grateful I saved you some time? Show it by buying me a cup of coffee. It'll motivate me to keep producing articles like this.

If you don't find the solution but do end up fixing the error on your own, please leave a comment and I will update this article. I hope for this to be a one-stop solution for such unfriendly errors.

Tagged troubleshoot