How to Connect AirPods to Apple Watch

It's easy to pair the Apple Watch with AirPods

The combination of AirPods and Apple Watch make a great mobile audio team. When your AirPods are connected to your Apple Watch and you've got audio loaded onto your Watch, you can leave your iPhone behind during a run, a hike, or while doing yardwork and still enjoy music and podcasts. Here's everything you need to know about how to connect AirPods to Apple Watch.

This article covers all versions of AirPods, including AirPods Pro, and devices running iOS 12 and up.

Woman using airpods and watch while exercising
Hiraman / E+ / Getty Images

How to Connect AirPods to Apple Watch

To use AirPods to listen to audio loaded onto your Apple Watch, follow these steps:

  1. Start by making sure your AirPods are set up on your iPhone.

    This is the most important step of the process. When you do this, your AirPods will be automatically set up for all devices that use the same iCloud account as your iPhone, including your Watch. You won't need to do any setup on the Watch.

  2. On your Apple Watch, from a watch face, open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

  3. Tap the Audio Output icon (this is the AirPlay icon; a set of circles with a triangle pushing into the bottom on it).

  4. Tap AirPods to set the Apple Watch's audio to output to the AirPods.

    Screenshots of connecting AirPods to Apple Watch.

If you haven't set up your AirPods with your iPhone, you can still connect them directly to your Watch. To do that, press the button on the AirPods case to put them in pairing mode. Then, on the Watch, go to Settings > Bluetooth > AirPods.

What to Do If You Can't Connect AirPods to Apple Watch

Trying to connect your AirPods to Apple Watch and running into problems? Try these fixes:

  1. If you haven't set up AirPods with iPhone, do that first.

  2. If AirPods are set up with iPhone, but aren't showing up on your Watch, make sure your iPhone and Watch are signed into iCloud. On iPhone, go to Settings > [your name]. If you're not signed into iCloud, do so.

  3. Make sure Airplane Mode isn't enabled on your Watch. If you see an airplane icon at the top of the watch face, open Control Center and unselect the airplane icon.

  4. Ensure that both your Apple Watch and AirPods are properly charged and turned on.

  5. Unpair your AirPods from your Apple Watch, then pair the devices again using the steps mentioned earlier.

How to Sync Music to Apple Watch

The best thing about connecting AirPods and Apple Watch is that you can load audio directly onto your Watch and leave your iPhone behind while you're out and about (this is even better if you have a Watch with cellular connectivity). You can even add podcasts or access Spotify with your Apple Watch.

How to Disconnect AirPods from Apple Watch

If you've paired AirPods to Apple Watch directly, you can unpair them by following these steps:

  1. On your Apple Watch, tap Settings.

  2. Tap Bluetooth.

    Screenshots of where to find the Bluetooth option on Apple Watch.
  3. Tap the i next to your AirPods.

  4. Tap Forget Device.

    Screenshots showing how to forget Airpods on Apple Watch.

If audio on your Apple Watch is playing to your AirPods and you want it to play through the Watch's speaker instead, you don't have to unpair the devices. Instead, open Control Center, tap the audio output icon, then tap Apple Watch.