How to Fix It When AirPods Won't Connect

You didn't pay good money for AirPods for them to not work!

Nothing is better than AirPods when they're working well. And nothing is worse than when your AirPods won't connect to your iPhone, iPad, or computer. Luckily, getting AirPods to connect to your devices is pretty easy. Read on for the top 9 tips to fix AirPods that won't connect.

This article applies to all AirPods models and devices running iOS 12 and up, as well as macOS. It assumes that you've already set up your AirPods. AirPods also work on Android phones and other devices that support Bluetooth headphones. If that's what you have, check out How to Pair Bluetooth Headphones With a Phone.

An iPhone and AirPods resting on a piece of wood
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Are the AirPods Within Range of Your iPhone?

This may seem incredibly simple, but it's also really important if your AirPods won't connect to your phone. AirPods connect to your iPhone and other devices using Bluetooth. Bluetooth devices must be within a couple of dozen feet of each other to connect. So, if your iPhone is in the house and you're mowing the lawn 200 feet away, your AirPods won't be able to connect. Try keeping the two devices relatively close together for a better connection.

Charge the AirPods Battery

The next reason that your AirPods won't connect to your iPhone or other device is that they don't have any charge left in the battery. The AirPods need to be charged in order to connect and work. The quickest thing to do in this case is to place your AirPods in their case. Then, plug the cable that came with the AirPods into the case and plug the other end into a USB port (on a computer or wall adapter). Wait about 15 minutes for the AirPods to recharge and then try connecting them again.

You can get up to three hours of battery life into the AirPods with just a 15-minute charge. For more AirPods battery tips, check out How to Charge Your AirPods.

Make Sure Bluetooth Is Turned On

AirPods connect to the iPhone, iPad, and other devices over Bluetooth. This means your devices need Bluetooth turned on in order for your AirPods to connect. Check to see if Bluetooth is turned on by following these steps:

  1. Open Control Center (on iPhone X and newer, swipe down from the top right corner of the screen. On older models, swipe up from the bottom).

  2. In Control Center, look for the Bluetooth icon in the top left corner.

  3. If the Bluetooth icon is lit up, it's enabled. If there's a line through the icon, or it looks white, Bluetooth is turned off.

    Screenshots of turning Bluetooth on and off in iPhone Control Center
  4. Tap the Bluetooth icon to turn it on and then try connecting your AirPods again.

Turn Bluetooth On and Off to Connect AirPods

If Bluetooth is already on but your AirPods still won't connect, you may just need to reset Bluetooth on your phone. To do this, follow the steps from the last section to view Bluetooth status in Control Center. Then, tap the Bluetooth icon to turn it off and tap it again to turn it on. Try re-connecting your AirPods.

Wondering why there's no tip about checking whether your AirPods are turned off? Find out why that's not needed in How to Turn Off Your AirPods.

Make Sure You're Sending Audio to the AirPods

If you don't hear audio through your AirPods and assume that means they're not connected, you might be wrong. It's possible that you're sending the audio to wrong the output source (like a Bluetooth speaker or another set of headphones). To confirm that you're sending audio to the AirPods, follow these steps:

  1. Open Control Center using the techniques mentioned earlier.

  2. Tap the Music controls in the top right corner.

    Screenshots of setting AirPods to audio output in Control Center
  3. In the expanded Music controls, you'll see a list of all the possible audio outputs. If AirPods aren't selected, tap them.

  4. Try playing music again and see if the AirPods work now.

If this is the problem you're facing, you could be running into an iPhone that's stuck in headphone mode — even if there are no headphones plugged in. Find out more about this situation in How to Fix iPhone Stuck in Headphone Mode.

Restart iPhone

An iPhone showing the Apple logo to indicate it is rebooting.
When you see this screen, the iPhone is rebooting. KP Photograph / Shutterstock

Sometimes the only way to fix stubborn problems with your iPhone and its accessories is to restart it. If the problem is a one-off glitch in your software — which can happen just through the normal use of your phone — a restart will solve it. Learn how to restart every model of the iPhone.

Update iPhone Operating System

iOS update on iPhone
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Even if a restart didn't get your AirPods connected again, the problem could still be the software on your iPhone. Make sure you're running the latest version of the operating system for your device, since that could have bug fixes or crucial software changes. To learn how to update your device to the latest operating system, check out:

Re-Connect AirPods to iPhone or Mac

If you've tried all of these steps and your AirPods still aren't connecting, you need to reconnect them to your devices. If you're trying to connect them to an iPhone or iPad, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure all of the following things are done:

    • Your iPhone is running the latest operating system.
    • Bluetooth is turned on.
    • The AirPods are in their case and their battery is charged.
  2. With the AirPods inside, close the AirPod case.

  3. Wait 15 seconds.

  4. Open the lid of the case again. If the status light flashes white, your AirPods are ready to connect and everything should be fine.

  5. If the light doesn't flash white or the AirPods don't connect, press and hold the setup button on the AirPods case. Keep holding the button until the status light flashes white, then orange, then white.

  6. Open the AirPods case and follow the instructions on your iPhone or iPad screen.

  7. If that doesn't work, skip to the next section.

Reset the Connection Between Your iPhone and AirPods

If your AirPods still won't connect, you may need to remove them from your iPhone or other device and set them up again like they're brand new. On an iPhone or iPad, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Settings app to open it.

  2. Tap Bluetooth.

    Screenshots of forgetting Bluetooth devices on iPhone
  3. Tap the i icon next to your AirPods.

  4. Tap Forget This Device.

  5. Tap Forget Device in the pop-up menu to confirm the removal.

  6. Close the AirPods lid.

  7. Wait about 30 seconds and then open the lid again.

  8. Press and hold the setup button on the AirPods case and follow the directions on your device's screen.

Reset the Connection Between Your Mac and AirPods

To set up your AirPods again on a Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top left corner.

  2. Click System Preferences.

    Screenshot of selecting Mac System Preferences from the Apple menu
  3. Click Bluetooth.

    Screenshot of choosing the Bluetooth System Preferences on a Mac
  4. Single click your AirPods.

    Screenshot of selecting AirPods in the Bluetooth preferences
  5. Click the X next to them.

  6. In the pop-up window, click Forget Device.

    Screenshot of removing AirPods from Bluetooth Preferences on Mac
  7. This removes the AirPods from your Mac. Set them up again the same way you did when you first connected them.

    For step-by-step instructions, check out How to Connect AirPods To Your MacBook.

Contact Apple for More Help

Make Genius Bar Appointment
Artur Debat / Getty Images

If you've followed all of these steps and your AirPods still won't connect to your iPhone, Mac, or other device, you need help from the experts: Apple. You can get support from Apple online or in person at your nearest Apple Store. Make sure to make a reservation at the Apple Store before going to ensure you don't have to wait for service.