How to Fix AirPods When They're Not Working

AirPods troubleshooting 101

AirPods allow you to listen to your favorite tunes, reach out to Siri, and more, completely hands-free. Yet, when your AirPods stop working, it can be a source of frustration. The good news is AirPods troubleshooting is relatively simple, even with various causes.

This guide is for AirPod users who have previously connected their AirPods to their device successfully.

Before you get started, remember that a good device restart can cure a wide range of issues, regardless of the cause. Try restarting your device or simply resetting your AirPods before you move forward.

A person wearing airpods while walking in the park.
Bojan89 / Getty Images

How to Fix It When AirPods Are Not Connecting

Are your AirPods refusing to connect to your iPhone or Mac? If your AirPods don't connect properly, there are a few things you can try.

  1. Update the device. Make sure you have the newest iOS or macOS. To use your AirPods properly, the device will need iOS 12.2 or later or macOS 10.14.4 or later.

    If you own a pair of first generation AirPods, you'll need iOS 10 or later.

  2. Charge the AirPods battery. If your AirPods don't connect, they may need a charge. To give AirPods a quicker charge, place them in their case, then connect the case to the charger using the lightning cable.

  3. Turn Bluetooth on. Bluetooth must be on for the AirPods to connect.

  4. Turn off other Bluetooth devices. You might be sending the audio to another device such as a car or an external Bluetooth speaker. Disconnect these devices, then connect the AirPods again.

  5. Give the AirPods a break. Place the AirPods in the case for 10 to 15 seconds. Then, reconnect them to your device. This may be all the AirPods need to reset and connect properly.

How to Fix It When AirPods Produce Poor Audio

AirPod users have experienced audio concerns such as crackling, static, low volume, and sound that's louder in one ear than the other. If your AirPods produce poor audio, follow these steps.

  1. Move closer to the device. Being away from your device can cause Bluetooth connection issues that result in poor audio quality.

  2. Clean the AirPods. If the sound is muffled, it may be time to clean the earwax off the AirPods. Use a soft cloth or toothbrush to clean the outside of the AirPods gently, then try the audio again.

  3. Check the hearing balance. If one of your AirPods is louder than the other, check the balance in the settings. On iOS, navigate to Settings > General > Accessibility > Hearing, then make sure the slider is in the middle.

  4. Turn Bluetooth off and back on. A quick reset of Bluetooth can sometimes cure software glitches that cause poor audio quality.

  5. Disconnect other Bluetooth devices. Do you use other Bluetooth devices with your AirPods? Disconnect a few of them to avoid overload and Bluetooth interference.

  6. Toggle the volume level. As you listen to audio through your AirPods, turn the volume down to zero and disconnect the AirPods from the device. Then, reconnect the AirPods and turn the volume up. This sometimes fixes faulty volume controls.

How to Fix It When Automatic Ear Detection Stops Working

One of the most useful features of the AirPods is automatic ear detection. When you remove your AirPods from your ears, the audio automatically pauses. If automatic ear detection stops working, there are a couple of things you can try:

  • Enable the automatic ear detection feature: Make sure the feature is enabled in the device settings. Using an iOS device, navigate to Settings > Bluetooth > AirPods and tap the information icon (i). Make sure the toggle is on next to automatic ear detection.
  • Clean the AirPods: If the proximity sensor located on the AirPods is dirty, it won't work properly. Use a soft cloth and gently wipe the AirPods clean, then try again.

How to Fix It When AirPods Won't Charge

Do your AirPods seem to be running on empty? You can use AirPods for up to five hours between charges, and the case holds approximately 24 hours of charge. If your AirPods don't seem to charge correctly, here are some steps you can take.

The status light on the charging case shows the charge level of the AirPods. The green light means the AirPods are fully charged. The amber light means they have less than one full charge.

  1. Charge the case. The case for the AirPods is what charges them. Make sure the charging case has enough fuel by charging it for a few hours with the lightning cable.

  2. Clean the case. If there's dust or something else inside the case, the AirPods may not charge properly. Use a soft cloth or toothbrush to clean the case gently.

  3. Check the lightning cable. If the lightning cable you use to charge the case is damaged, it may not charge properly. Look for bending or fraying of the cord. If you locate any damages, discard it and try a new one.

Don't use low quality lightning cables with your device. Use the cable that was provided with the device or a cable that is certified by Apple.

How to Fix It When Hey Siri Isn't Working on Your AirPods

Second generation AirPods have the Hey Siri feature, which allows you to speak commands directly to the assistant using voice while wearing your AirPods. If Hey Siri doesn't work, ensure you're using second generation AirPods. If so, move forward by following these steps.

  1. Turn on Hey Siri. You can't use the feature unless it's enabled on your device. Navigate to Settings > Siri & Search on the iOS device, then tap the Listen to Hey Siri toggle to turn it on.

    Toggle Allow Siri When Locked to use the feature even when your device is locked.

  2. Enable microphone switching. If your microphones don't switch to your AirPods when you use them, Siri won't know to listen. Go to Settings > Bluetooth, then tap the information icon (i) next to the AirPods. Tap Microphone, then toggle Automatically Switch AirPods to the On position.

  3. Update the iOS software. Out of date software can cause Siri to malfunction. Be sure to update your devices before trying to use the Hey Siri feature.

    For Hey Siri to work, the device must have at least iOS 12.2, watchOS 5.2, tvOS 12.2, or macOS 10.14.4.

  4. Reset the device settings. It's possible an internal setting is causing the Hey Siri feature to not work properly. You can reset all the device settings. Connect the AirPods, and use the Hey Siri feature again. To do so, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings.

Although you won't lose any data or content, you will lose every setting you currently have on the device when following through with a reset.

When All Else Fails, Contact Apple Support

If you still can't get your AirPods to work properly, reach out to Apple for continuing support. You can quickly visit Apple Support online or call 800–692–7753. You can also set up your repair online to expedite your service or take the AirPods to a local Apple Store with a Genius Bar.