AirPods Won't Connect or Go Into Pairing Mode? Here's the Fix

Causes range from low battery or Bluetooth issues to software updates

AirPods are usually pretty easy to pair with most Bluetooth devices, but sometimes they just won't connect. Here's how to fix the most common issues and what to do if the problem persists. 

Why Won't My AirPods Connect and Pair?

There are many reasons why your AirPods might have trouble pairing with your Bluetooth devices. Some of the possible reasons include:

  • Low battery charge.
  • Bluetooth turned off or not working properly.
  • Debris on the AirPods and/or charging case.
  • Your device needs a software update.
  • Device needs to be reset
  • AirPods stuck in pairing mode.
  • Hardware damage to the AirPods or charging case. 
  1. Check Your Battery. If your AirPods are running a low charge, it may interfere with their ability to pair with your devices. The best way to ensure your AirPods charge properly is to place them in your charging case, then connect the charging case to a USB port or wall outlet with the appropriate Lightning cable.

    Your AirPods charging case provides a quick battery level overview. 

    • If the light is Green with Airpods in the case, the AirPods are fully charged. 
    • If the light is Amber, they’re not fully charged. 
    • If the light is Amber with the case empty, it means the case also needs to be charged.
  2. Check Bluetooth. AirPods will easily connect to Apple devices as well as other devices, but the AirPods need an available Bluetooth signal to work. This is one of the most common reasons why AirPods won’t pair. Fortunately, accessing Bluetooth is straightforward on most devices. For example, all you need to do is tap Settings > Bluetooth on your iPhone or iPad.

    To ensure your device’s Bluetooth is working properly, try pairing the non-AirPods device with multiple devices. If you can’t pair with any Bluetooth-compatible hardware, the issue is likely with your device and not your AirPods.

  3. Clean Your AirPods and Charging Case. If you’ve tried pairing your AirPods but don’t see a blinking light on your case, it may be because the AirPods aren’t making good contact with the electrical connections at the bottom of the charging case (that is, the inside-the-case charging points). You can try and fix this issue by cleaning your AirPods and the bottom of the AirPods case with a slightly dampened, lint-free cloth. If the problem persists, you should contact Apple and get a replacement if possible.

  4. Check for Software Updates. If you can’t get your AirPods to pair using the above methods, it could be an issue with your device settings. The first thing you’ll want to do is ensure your device is running the latest firmware. The software requirements for AirPods and Apple hardware are as follows:

    • iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch: iOS 10.2 or later
    • Apple Watch: watchOS 3 or later
    • Mac: macOS Sierra or later
  5. Reset Your AirPods. It’s possible for AirPods to get stuck in pairing mode, in which the status light won’t stop blinking white and the charging case button becomes unresponsive. If this happens to you, the first thing you should try is to reset your AirPods.

    1. Go to Bluetooth settings on your device, locate and select “Forget this Device”. 
    2. Put both AirPods in their case and open the lid. 
    3. Press and hold the small setup button on the back of the case for 10-20 seconds until the status light starts flashing amber.
    4. Release the setup button once the status light blinks amber three times.
    5. Press and hold the setup button until the status light flashes white. You should see your AirPods listed in your device’s Bluetooth settings (if you’re using an iPhone or iPad, auto-pairing should initiate).

    If you have AirPods Max, press and hold the noise control button and the Digital Crown until the LED flashes amber.

  6. Reset Your Device. If the problem persists even after an update, you can try resetting your device to fix AirPods sync issues. This won’t remove any data but will restore your device to factory default, which means you’ll lose things like your stored Wi-Fi passwords and wallpapers. This is a more extreme measure to take, so before resorting to a reset, do a simple restart of your device to see if that helps.

Still Not Pairing? Contact Apple for Help

If you’ve tried all of these tips and still can’t get your AirPods to go into pairing mode, it’s best to seek help from Apple. You can do this by contacting Apple support online or in person at your nearest Apple Store or authorized Apple service provider.

  • Why are my AirPods not pairing with my Mac?

    If your AirPods are having a hard time connecting to your Mac, there may be a macOS compatibility problem. If you're using AirPods (first generation), make sure your Mac is running macOS Sierra or later. If you're using AirPods (second generation), make sure your Mac is running at least macOS 10.14.4. If your macOS is compatible, go to the Apple Menu > System Preferences > Bluetooth. If you can see your AirPods in the list, but they're not connecting, remove them, then try connecting them again. If you're still having problems, try resetting your AirPods.

  • Why are my AirPods not showing up when pairing them with a Windows PC?

    If you're having trouble pairing your AirPods with a Windows PC, make sure you open the charging case lid during the pairing process. If you're still having problems, try disconnecting your AirPods from any other Bluetooth device, such as your paired iPhone. Another troubleshooting step to try: Open an app like Spotify on your Windows PC and begin playing music. Place the AirPods back in their case and close the lid. Wait a few seconds, then open your Windows PC's Action Center and select All settings > Devices and make sure you see your AirPods on the Device list. Take your AirPods out of the case and place them in your ears, then, in the Device list, select your Airpods and click Connect.

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