How to Fix It When One AirPod Is Not Working

Get audio back in both ears

AirPods are great—except when one of your AirPods isn't working. Whether it's your left or right AirPod not working, this article explains what could be causing the problem and how to fix it.

Why Is My AirPod Only Playing in One Ear?

When your AirPod is playing in only one ear, something's wrong. The causes can range from the reasonably simple (low battery charge or dirty AirPods) to the pretty complex (problems with network or audio settings). Given that, there's no one cause for this AirPods problem, and there's no single fix, either.

How Do I Fix My AirPods When Only One Works?

If one of your AirPods isn't working, there are lots of ways to fix it. We've listed the possible fixes below, from simplest to most complex. Try them in this order to fix your AirPods.

The tips in this article for fixing when one AirPod isn't working apply to all AirPods models, including the original AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max.

  1. Check Battery. The simplest and most likely explanation for one AirPod not working is its battery is dead. AirPods can drain batteries at different rates, so even if the AirPods charged simultaneously, one might run out of juice first. Check AirPods battery life or your battery widget and charge if you need to.

  2. Clean AirPods. You might not hear the audio in one AirPod because there's junk built up in it, blocking sound from getting out. That could be lint or dust, or even earwax. Check your AirPods and if the speakers look clogged, clean your AirPods.

  3. Turn Bluetooth On and Off. The problem with your AirPods could be the audio isn't being properly sent from your device to your earbuds. In that case, try resetting Bluetooth. On an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, go to Settings > Bluetooth > move the Bluetooth slider to off/white, wait a few seconds, and move it back to on/green.

  4. Restart Your Device. Restarting isn't very likely to solve the problem, but it's quick and straightforward, so it's worth a try. Restarting a device clears out active memory and can often solve temporary problems. We've got instructions for how to restart any iPhone or how to restart an Pad.

  5. Unpair and Re-pair AirPods. Still not hearing audio in one AirPod? It's time to set up your AirPods again. To do this on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, go to Settings > Bluetooth > tap the i next to the AirPods > Forget This Device > Forget Device. That removes the AirPods from your device. Then put the AirPods into their case, hold down the button on the case, and follow the onscreen setup instructions.

  6. Hard Reset AirPods. If nothing's worked so far, try hard resetting your AirPods. Follow the same steps for un-pairing and re-pairing your AirPods from the last section. When you hold down the button on the AirPods case, hold it for about 15 seconds until the light flashes amber and then white. Then let go and follow the onscreen instructions.

    If even that doesn't work, try again, but hold down the button on the case much longer: around 40-60 seconds. Let the light move through the amber-then-white cycle five times and then continue.

  7. Reset Network Settings. Your device has settings that control how it connects to various networks, including Bluetooth devices. If there's a problem with those settings, that could be your culprit. Resetting the settings can help, though you'll need to re-pair Bluetooth devices, re-enter Wi-Fi passwords, etc. To reset Network Settings, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.

  8. Check Stereo Balance. There's a setting hidden deep in the Accessibility options on iOS devices that lets you control the balance of audio between the left and right AirPods. Your problem could be this setting is out of balance and sending all sound to only one AirPod. To fix this, go to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual > find the Balance slider and move it to the center.

  9. Update Operating System. Every new version of the iOS and iPadOS brings lots of new features and important bug fixes. While this isn't likely to solve the problem, there's a chance your problem is fixed in the latest version of your device's OS. Since updates are free, pretty fast, and bring many benefits, it's worth a shot. Learn how to update iPhone.

  10. Get Help From Apple. At this point, it's time to get help from the experts: Apple. You can get support over the phone from Apple or make an appointment for in-person help at your nearest Apple Store.

  • How do I fix one AirPod that's not working with my Android phone?

    If you've connected your AirPods with an Android phone, troubleshooting is similar to the steps for iOS, with a few adjustments. To check the battery charge, use an app such as AirBattery from the Google Play Store. To rule out issues related to firmware, you'll also need to pair your AirPods to an iPhone to make sure they receive the latest updates.

  • Why is my left AirPod not working when talking on my phone?

    In addition to the above checks, if the microphone isn't working with your left AirPod, look at your AirPods microphone settings; you might have the mic set to the right earbud. Go to Settings > Bluetooth > Microphone and choose from AutomaticAlways Left AirPod, or Always Right AirPod.

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