It wasn’t that long ago that we wrote about HP’s new Quick Drop app and how seamless the usage was when the app was installed on both your phone and Chromebook. I distinctly remember thinking to myself as we made a video about the feature that I really wished Nearby Share would work just as simply. After all, Nearby Share is on your Android phone by default and baked into Chrome OS as well. Not having to install a separate app to move files quickly from one device to the other should simply be the way of things, right?
While that hasn’t really been the case for quite some time, I’ve found over the past few weeks that Nearby Share on Chrome OS and Android is actually pretty awesome these days. Maybe I could chalk up my low expectations to the months and months of testing we were an active part of from as early as July 2020. Over 18 months have elapsed since Nearby Sharing on Chromebooks became a thing we were testing out, and it was pretty rough going for quite a while.
Even once it technically arrived, I would have intermittent issues with it when moving larger files and sometimes couldn’t even get my devices to see each other and connect. The inconsistencies across the board were enough to make me forget about the service when I actually needed it most. But, as fate would have it, I needed to quickly move a few files about 2 weeks ago and the simplest path was Nearby Share. And you know what? It was simple, painless, and totally effective.
So I started leaning on it a bit more. And then some more. And now, any time I need to move a video, photo or other media from my phone to my Chromebook or vice-versa, I go to Nearby Share as my default option without much thought about it. And across the board it has been very, very fantastic.
Whether you simply use the version of Nearby Share that quickly connects you to contacts nearby or the short-term, open-to-everyone setup that gets you connected to anyone and eveyrone in your proximity, the service itself has been a real pleasure to use of late. I’m sure some bugs have been squashed on both sides of the Android/Chrome OS coin, but I’m insanely happy that this highly-useful feature is now so seamless for Android and Chromebook users.
A quick reminder of how to use Nearby Share
In case you’ve never given it a spin, the process for using Nearby Share is crazy-simple as it should be. First, you need to enable Nearby Share on both devices you’ll be using. For Chromebooks, simply click into the quick settings tray and select Nearby Sharing. A pop up will show that immediately turns on the visible to everyone setting. If you simply want to get to your general Nearby Share settings, go to Settings > Connected Devices > Device Visibility and select if you’d like to be visible to all contact, some hand-selected contacts, or to no one.
You’ll need to do the same on your Android device, and for most out there at this point you can get there quickly by long-pressing the Nearby Share icon in your quick settings in the notifications panel. Or, if you’d rather navigate there, you can go to Setting > Connected devices > Connection preferences > Nearby Share on a Pixel phone or you can simply search your settings on other phones and quickly find your Nearby Share settings. Set this to the visibility level you’d like and just like that, you are ready to share.
Either from your phone or from your Chromebook, find the file you want to send over, find the share button, and select Nearby Share from the share sheet. You’ll see your other device pretty much immediately as long as your sharing settings from the earlier step permit it, and after clicking the share notification, your file will quickly arrive on the other device. It even works when you aren’t on the same network, though I’ve found the Visible to everyone setting is preferred for that sort of sharing.
All this is not to say that Nearby Share will be 100% perfect all the time. These types of file movements are complex and network-dependent, so don’t ever expect perfection. However, where we are today with this feature is a far cry from where it began and without question Nearby Share is a worthwhile tool that isn’t just a novelty any longer. It is a legitimate, useful tool that you should definitely give a try if you haven’t in a while.