How to Keep Android’s ‘Nearby Share’ From Using Your Mobile Data

Photo: David Murphy
Photo: David Murphy

I love Android’s Nearby Share, because it finally — finally — lets you shoot files over to another Android phone, just like iPhone users have been able to do with AirDrop since 2014. I always hated having to turn to third-party apps to make this happen on Android, so it’s a welcome relief that Google has finally entered the modern era (of file-sharing, at least).

There is, however, one setting you’ll want to examine before you get started zipping files back and forth between Androids. This tip comes courtesy of Rich DeMuro, who first put it on my radar. While it’s not a game-changer, if you absolutely hate the idea of using your data connection instead of wifi — or would prefer your phone to use mobile data as little as possible for whatever reason — you’ll want to know about it.

Pull up your Android phone’s Settings app and type in “Nearby Share” in the search field at the top. If that doesn’t turn up anything, swipe down on your phone’s screen to reveal Android’s Quick Settings, then swipe down again to expose your full list of Quick Settings. Tap on the pencil icon in the lower-left corner, scroll down, and add Nearby Share — if it exists — to your Quick Settings menu. Tap on it, and then tap on your profile picture to pull up Nearby Share’s settings.

Once you’re in Nearby Share’s settings, look for the “Data” option:

Screenshot: David Murphy

Tap it, and you’ll get the screen below, where you’ll be able to indicate that you only want to use your wifi internet connection to share files. If you’re feeling wild, you can also set up Nearby Share to not use any internet connection whatsoever. If you do so, the Androids involved in the file transfer will then be forced to connect to each other directly.

Screenshot: David Murphy

That’s it! While you probably won’t use Nearby Share nearly enough to cause issues with your data plan, it’s worth knowing about this feature, especially if you’re getting close to the data cap your plan imposes — or, worse, if you’re already over it for the month. Every little bit of savings helps, right?

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