How to Use Airpods With Your Apple TV

Watch your favorite shows and movies in peace with Airpods

Apple Holds Press Event To Introduce New iPhone
Stephen Lam / Getty Images

Do Apple’s wireless AirPods make your ears smarter? That's debatable, but they certainly do put a (Siri) computer in your ear. Introduced in 2016, they use a range of proprietary Apple technologies to provide an excellent listening experience. We know they're built to use with an iPhone or iPad, but if you happen to be lucky enough to own a set you may sometimes want to use them with your Apple TV, which we explain how to do here.

What Are AirPods?

AirPods are wireless headphones that use an Apple-developed W1 wireless chip that provides high-quality sound. They are very easy to set up and provide a range of useful controls for iPhone users. Apple doesn't say it very often, but they can also be used as wireless headphones with other devices.

They look much like the white wired earbud headphones Apple has always provided with iPads and iPhones, but without the wires. The Guardian calls them, “A great choice for truly wireless earbuds if you own an Apple device and do not like noise isolating earphones.”

Once you have paired them with an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch you can access Siri to ask questions, get location data, make requests, answer calls and more use their AirPods.

AirPods are a little more sophisticated than most Bluetooth headphones.

For example, AirPods have dual optical sensors and accelerometers packed inside each earbud. These slices of tech work with the W1 chip to detect when the earbuds are actually in your ear, which means they only play when you are ready to listen and the music automatically stops when you take them out (though this feature only works with iPhones).

iPhone users like AirPods because once they are paired they will automatically work with most other Apple devices. What this means is that when you are logged into your iCloud account and you pair your AirPods with your iPhone they will also be automatically paired to work with any Mac, iPad or Apple Watch that’s signed into the same iCloud account.

Apple hasn’t enabled this easy pairing feature for Apple TV because it isn't a personal device. Your television is used in a group setting, and unless you live alone you're very unlikely to leave it always logged into one single iCloud /Apple ID. This means you need to pair AirPods for use with your Apple TV manually.

Once you pair them to your Apple TV you can:

  • Listen to audio from the Apple TV.
  • You can double-tap an earbud to play or pause content on Apple TV.
  • The automatic ear detection system inside the earbuds will pause audio or video when you remove them from your ear(s).
  • AirPods won’t let you use Siri on Apple TV. This is because they function only like any other set of Bluetooth headphones. Siri support on AirPods used with an Apple TV is not available yet.

How to Connect AirPods With Apple TV

On the AirPods:

  • Reach for your AirPod charging case, open it and put your AirPods inside.
  • Press and hold the pairing button on the back of the AirPod charging case.
  • Hold the button down until you see the status light flash white.

On the Apple TV:

  • Now open Settings on your Apple TV.
  • Using your Apple Siri Remote (or any other remote control you have set up for use with your Apple TV) you should click on Remotes and Devices.
  • Click on Bluetooth.
  • Now select your AirPods from the list of available devices.

The pairing process completes. You can now use your AirPods like any other Bluetooth headphones/earbuds. Unfortunately, you can’t use them to control Apple TV using your voice/Siri.

Unpairing From Apple TV

If you ever want to remove your AirPods from your Apple TV you can unpair them as follows.

On the Apple TV:

  • Open Settings.
  • Select Remote and Devices.
  • Select Bluetooth.
  • Find your AirPods on the list of Paired devices and choose them
  • Now tap Forget Device

You’ll be prompted to tap Forget Device once more in order to authorize the process. Once you've done so, your AirPods will no longer be paired with your Apple TV.

You can also pair AirPods with an Android phone, Windows PC or any other device with Bluetooth support by following these steps. You just need to press the pairing button while your AirPods are in their case and then pair it in the same way you pair other headphones to the device you wish them to work with.

Once you have AirPods paired with your Apple TV they will automatically reconnect and play audio from that device, but there is one problem with this. You see, if you pair your AirPods with an Apple TV and subsequently use them with another device, then you will need to pair them with the Apple TV all over again. That's perfectly normal with any Bluetooth headphones, but you could be able to manually re-establish your connection in Settings > Bluetooth.