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    How to fix common problems with Apple AirPods

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    Aina Prat Blasi
    @ainapratblasi

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    Apple's AirPods and AirPods Pro deliver a great, truly wireless earphone experience and great sound! But what do you do when things don't work out the way they should? Here are some common problems you may encounter with your AirPods and how to fix them.


    Pairing the new AirPods

    If your AirPods are brand new, you can easily pair them by following the steps below:

    1. Wake up your iPhone, then it's unlocked and the Home screen appears.
    2. Open the AirPods case with the AirPods inside and hold it close to your iPhone until the pop-up message appears.
    3. Follow the onscreen pairing instructions to complete the setup.

    Your AirPods are synced with your Apple ID, which means you won't have to complete this pairing process again. Your AirPods should also automatically work with any other Apple device, including iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch.



    If the automatic pairing process doesn't work, see the section on how to manually start the pairing process later in this article.


    When you wear the AirPods, they attempt to pair with the last known device. Sometimes, you may need to select your AirPods from a list of known devices.

    Follow the steps below on iOS or iPadOS to find your AirPods in the list of known devices:

    1. Swipe down from the top right corner (iPhone X or later) or up from the bottom of the screen (iPhone 8 or earlier) to open Control Center.
    2. Tap the AirPlay icon in the Now Playing panel.
    3. Select your AirPods from the list.

    Follow the steps below on macOS to find your AirPods in the list of known devices:




    1. Click the "Volume" icon in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
    2. Select your AirPods from the list.

    You can also select your AirPods from the System Preferences> Sound> Output menu.

    Pair your AirPods manually

    Occasionally, you may need to pair your AirPods with a new device. You can use this method to pair with another iOS device that doesn't use your Apple ID. You can also pair your AirPods with any regular Bluetooth phone (like an Android) or even a Windows PC.

    Follow these steps to manually pair your AirPods:


    1. Launch the Bluetooth pairing interface on the device you want to pair your AirPods with.
    2. Open the AirPods case with the AirPods inside.
    3. Press and hold the small circular button on the back of the case until the AirPods LED turns white and starts blinking.
    4. Select your AirPods on the device you want to pair them with, then complete the process.

    Your AirPods behave like a standard set of Bluetooth headphones when paired with a non-Apple device. This means you won't be able to use features like automatic ear detection, single ear listening, or customizable gestures.

    Reset your AirPods to fix connectivity issues

    Sometimes, your AirPods may not perform as advertised. Maybe they don't show up in the audio output list or get disconnected repeatedly when trying to listen to music. In these cases, it might be a good idea to have the paired device “forget” your AirPods and then pair them again.


    Follow these steps to re-pair your AirPods on iOS or iPadOS:


    1. Go to Settings> Bluetooth and find your AirPods.
    2. Tap the Info button (i) next to your AirPods.
    3. Tap “Forget this Device”.
    4.  Follow the automatic instructions described above to re-pair your AirPods.

    Follow these steps to re-pair your AirPods on macOS:

    1. Go to System Preferences> Bluetooth.
    2. Find your AirPods and click the "X" next to them.
    3. Confirm that you want to forget this Bluetooth connection.
    4. Follow the manual pairing instructions we covered above to re-pair your AirPods.

    Restart the device to resolve connectivity issues

    A common problem plaguing AirPods is their tendency to drop the connection while music is playing. Removing the AirPods from your ears and replacing them isn't enough to fix the problem, it will continue to happen.

    Even the “Forget this device” nuclear option sometimes does not solve this problem. Usually, the only way to fix it is to restart the iOS device.

    Follow these steps to restart an iPhone X or later:

    1. Press and hold the side and volume up buttons.
    2. When the message appears, tap "Swipe to power off".
    3. After the iPhone shuts down, press and hold the side button to restart it.

    Follow these steps to restart an iPhone 8 or earlier:

    1. Press and hold the side button.
    2. When the message appears, tap "Swipe to power off".
    3. After the iPhone shuts down, press and hold the side button to restart it.

    Rename and customize AirPods gestures

    You can easily customize your AirPods if you first pair them with an iOS device, then plug them into your ears so you can hear the connection noise.



    Then, go to Settings> Bluetooth and look for your AirPods in the paired device list. Tap the Information (i) button to see a list of options. Here, you can name your AirPods and assign gestures to each ear. Double tap an ear to initiate gestures of your choice.

    If you find that you are accidentally skipping tracks or activating Siri, you can disable these gestures entirely. If you've had to force your device to forget and reconnect your AirPods due to a connectivity issue, you'll need to set these gestures from scratch again.

    Troubleshooting with automatic ear detection

    Automatic ear detection is one of the standout features of AirPods. Not only does this allow for automatic pause and play, it also automatically saves battery life when you're not using your AirPods.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't always work properly. One of the main reasons for this is that AirPods attract earwax and other dirt. When the sensors (the small black dots inside and outside the earbuds) are obscured, automatic ear detection does not work.

    The best way to fix it is to make sure your AirPods are always perfectly clean. If you want to disable ear detection, visit Settings> Bluetooth, tap the Info button (i) next to your AirPods, then turn off "Automatic Ear Detection".

    Uneven or crackling sound

    AirPods can maintain a connection as long as they're within 100 feet of your iOS device. If you're listening from an Android device, it's more like 30 feet. However, these distances may vary depending on the environment.

    If the audio starts to pop, move closer to the source. Solid walls and electrical devices, such as microwaves, routers, and vacuums, can also limit the effective range of your AirPods.

    Use Find My to locate lost AirPods

    Just like your iPhone, Mac, or any other Apple device, AirPods are compatible with Apple's renowned Find My Device service (formerly called Find My iPhone).

    Follow these steps to find your AirPods via Find My in iCloud:

    1. Log in to iCloud.com.
    2. Click on "Find iPhone" and wait for the map to load.
    3. Select your AirPods from the drop-down list at the top of the page.

    You can use any of Apple's dedicated Find My apps to locate your lost AirPods. If they are deactivated, you will see their last known position. If your AirPods are on but aren't in the box, you can play an audible sound to help you find them.

    When your AirPods aren't charging

    If you're trying to charge your AirPods wirelessly, make sure you have a wireless charging case. If you have first generation AirPods, but haven't upgraded the wireless charging case, you can't charge them wirelessly.

    If you have a wireless charging case, you will see an LED on the outside. If you only see one LED inside the case, your AirPods aren't compatible with wireless chargers.

    If you are having trouble charging via a Lightning cable, the charging port may be dirty. Clean the Lightning port on your AirPods and make sure there is no lint or other debris in it, which could cause charging problems.

    Further Reading:

    • How to update your Apple AirPods
    • How to connect AirPods to Apple Watch
    • AirPods not charging? 5 solutions
    • Hard reset your Apple AirPods
    • How to connect AirPods to iPhone and iPad
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