How to Fix AirPods When They're Not Working

AirPods troubleshooting 101

AirPods and case on a black background

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AirPods allow you to listen to your favorite tunes, reach out to Siri, and more, completely hands-free. Yet, when they stop working, they 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.

How to Fix It When AirPods Are Not Connecting

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

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

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

  2. Charge the AirPods battery. If your AirPods won't connect, they may need a charge. To give your AirPods a quicker charge, place them into their case and connect the case to your charger via the lightning cable.

  3. Turn your Bluetooth on. Your Bluetooth must be on in order for your AirPods to connect.

  4. Turn off other Bluetooth devices. You might be sending your audio to another device such as your car or an external Bluetooth speaker. Disconnect these devices and try connecting your AirPods again.

  5. Give your AirPods a break. Place your AirPods back in the case for 10-15 seconds. Then, attempt to reconnect them to your device. This may be all your 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 even sound that's louder in one ear than the other. If your AirPods are producing poor audio, follow these steps.

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

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

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

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

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

  6. Toggle your volume level. As you listen to audio though your AirPods, try turning the volume down to zero and disconnecting your AirPods from your device. Then, reconnect your AirPods and turn the volume back 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, your audio automatically pauses. If your 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 your 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 your AirPods: If the proximity sensor located on your AirPods is dirty, it won't work properly. Use a soft cloth to gently wipe the AirPods clean and try again.

How to Fix It When AirPods Won't Charge

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

Did you know that the status light on your charging case shows you the charge level of your AirPods? The green light means your AirPods are fully charged and the amber light means they have less than one full charge.

  1. Charge your case. Remember, the case for your AirPods is what charges them. Make sure your 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 your case, the AirPods may not charge properly. You can use a soft cloth or toothbrush to gently clean the case.

  3. Check your lightning cable. If the lightning cable you use to charge your 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. Make sure the cable you're using is the one provided with your device or 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 your commands directly to the assistant via voice while wearing your AirPods. If Hey Siri isn't working, 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 your iOS device., then tap the Listen to Hey Siri toggle to turn it on.

    Toggle Allow Siri When Locked on as well so you can 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 and tap the information icon (i) next to your AirPods. Tap Microphone and toggle Automatically Switch AirPods on.

  3. Update your 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, you must have at least iOS 12.2, watchOS 5.2, tvOS 12.2, or macOS 10.14.4.

  4. Reset your device settings. It's possible an internal setting is causing the Hey Siri feature to not work properly. You can reset all of your device settings and try connecting your AirPods and 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 your 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, it's time to 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 own repair online to expedite your service or take your AirPods into a local Apple store with a Genius Bar.