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, receive phone calls, and more—all of it hands-free. When your AirPods stop working, however, it can be frustrating. The good news is that AirPods troubleshooting is fairly straightforward. Here, we'll walk through the most common problems involving AirPods connected to a host device.

Before you start, remember that a device restart can cure a range of issues, regardless of the cause. Try restarting your device or simply resetting your AirPods before moving forward.

What to Do 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 Mac, iOS device, or AirPods firmware. Make sure your iPhone has the newest iOS, or your computer has the latest macOS. The device needs iOS 12.2 or later, or macOS 10.14.4 or later. Also, check that your AirPods have the latest firmware update.

    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 on Bluetooth. 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. A short break may be all the AirPods need to reset and connect properly.

What to Do When AirPods Produce Poor Audio

AirPod users have experienced audio problems 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 too far 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. In iOS, go to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual, 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. Change 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.

What to Do 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:

  1. Enable the automatic ear detection feature. On an iOS device, navigate to Settings > Bluetooth > AirPods and tap the information icon (i). Then, turn on the Automatic Ear Detection toggle.

  2. 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.

What to Do 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 the headphones. Ensure the charging case has enough power 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. Instead, use the cable provided with the device or a cable certified by Apple.

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

Second-generation AirPods have the Hey Siri feature, which allows you to speak commands directly to Apple's virtual assistant while wearing your AirPods. If Hey Siri doesn't work, first confirm 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 turn on the Listen for "Hey Siri" toggle.

    In the Siri & Search section, turn on the Allow Siri When Locked toggle to use the Siri 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. Next, tap Microphone, then turn on the Automatically Switch AirPods toggle.

  3. Update the iOS software. Out-of-date software can cause Siri to malfunction. So be sure to update your devices before using 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 caused the Hey Siri feature not to work properly. You can reset all the device settings to resolve the issue. 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.

Contact Apple Customer Support

If you tried all of the fixes, and your AirPods are still not working properly, reach out to Apple for support. You can visit Apple Support online or call 800–692–7753. You can also set up your repair online to expedite your service or schedule a Genius Bar appointment and visit your local Apple store.

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