How to Use Apple Earbuds as Mic on PC: A Step-by-Step Guide

Apple Earbuds on a computer
Apple Earbuds on a computer (Photo by Sanni Sahil)

Apple’s proprietary earphones can be used as a mic and headphones on PC and other non-Apple products/applications.

Anyone who uses Apple’s earphones knows the exclusivity of using such a product. The proprietary lightning cable and the optimized hardware for Mac and iOS make it difficult for people to use Apple’s headphones with any non-Apple product.

Apple earbuds on a computer
Apple earbuds on a computer

Now imagine if you were put in a position where you had no other choice but to use your Apple EarBuds as a mic on PC for an important Skype, Zoom, or Slack call. The compatibility issues with the conflicting devices is more than just a minor inconvenience. It can really make you feel like you’re not making the most out of your Apple headphones.

That’s why we’ve made this step-by-step guide that will not only help you use your Apple earbuds as a mic on PC, but also as your main headphone audio source as well. So keep reading to find out more!

Can iPhone Headphones Be Used as a Mic on PC?

Although it may not be intended, your Apple headphones can indeed work effectively as a mic on your PC.

However, because most of Apple’s hardware is specifically designed for Macbook and other Apple products, it isn’t surprising that you’ll run into some compatibility issues connecting with non-Apple products.

Connecting your Apple earbuds to your PC won’t be a simple plug and play experience compared to if you were to connect them to your Macbook or iPhone. These earbuds just work more optimally on Apple devices.

There’s no need to worry though! We’ll give you detailed step by step instructions on how to use Apple headphones on PC. Not only will you be able to use them as your main source of audio on PC, but you’ll also be able to use them as a mic as well.

Things You Need to Use Your Apple EarPods as a Mic

  1. Earpods with 3.5mm Plug
  2. Lightning to USB-A Connector
  3. Audio Splitter

1. EarPods with 3.5mm Plug

EarPods with 3.5mm Plug
EarPods with 3.5mm Plug

The easiest way to use Apple earbuds as a mic on a PC is to have EarPods that already have a built-in 3.5mm jack. However, if your earbuds use Apple’s proprietary lightning cable, then you’ll need the next item.

2. Lightning to USB-A Connector

A lightning to USB-A audio connector (From: anker.com).
A lightning to USB-A audio connector (From: anker.com).

You’ll need a female lightning cable to USB-A connector if your Apple headphones have a lightning cable and you want to use it as a mic on your PC or laptop. Quite frankly, due to proprietary hardware and manufacturer limitations, this is the only option available.

Here’s a great lightning to USB-A connector audio adapter and a video of the product for you to check out.

You might be thinking: “why can’t I use female lightning to male 3.5mm adaptors?” These adapters do not exist simply because lightning transmits digital signals while 3.5mm uses analog. The conversion from digital to analog just wouldn’t make sense.

3. Audio Splitter

An audio splitter device (From: ebay.com).
An audio splitter device (From: ebay.com).

An audio splitter is a device that splits a singular audio signal to 2 or more paths, however this device is only really needed if your PC has a dedicated headphone and microphone jack port.

How to Use Your Apple Earbuds as Mic on PC

You’ll find that the process on how to use Apple headphones as a mic on PC has six simple steps. But before anything else, make sure to clean your device properly to avoid any dirt-related issues.

  1. Connecting Your Apple Headphones to Your PC
  2. Configuring the Audio Settings

Connecting Your Apple Headphones to Your PC

1. Identify the Recording Slot

The first thing you have to do is identify the recording slot of your computer or laptop. Most computers and laptops nowadays have a single audio slot, which means you can simply plug your headphones in. However, some computers still have two separated slots, one dedicated to headphone audio and the other to recording/mic input.

If your PC has two slots and you want to use your Apple earbuds as a mic, simply determine the recording slot which is usually colored in pink and/or marked with a mic symbol.

PC microphone and headphone plugs
PC microphone and headphone plugs

2. Plug Your EarBuds to the Recording Slot

Now that you’ve determined the recording slot of your PC, simply plug in your Apple earbuds to the designated slot.

Plugging in your Apple earphones to a Laptop
Plugging in your Apple earphones to a Laptop

Configuring the Audio Settings

1. Launch the Control Panel

There are many ways for you to open the control panel, but here are the 3 fastest ways to do it.

  1. Left-click the Windows icon at the lower left of the screen or press the Windows key
  2. Type “control panel” in the search box.
  3. Click on the Control Panel app or “Open

    Using Windows search to find the Control Panel
    Using Windows search to find the Control Panel

 
Way 2: Quick Access Menu
  1. Right-click the Windows icon at the lower left of the screen or press Windows key + X.
  2. Click on Control Panel.

    Using the Quick Access menu to navigate to the Control Panel
    Using the Quick Access menu to navigate to the Control Panel

 
Way 3: Run
  1. Press Windows key + R.
  2. Type “control panel” in the empty box then click OK or press Enter.

    Using the Run window to launch the Control Panel
    Using the Run window to launch the Control Panel

 

2. Locate the “Sound” or “Hardware and Sound

Depending on your PC and/or the version of Windows you’re running, the sound options may be labeled differently. As such, the instructions below are for Windows 10 users.
  1. On the Control Panel, locate and click on Hardware and Sound.

    Locating Hardware and Sound in the Control Panel
    Locating Hardware and Sound in the Control Panel

  2. Click on Sound or Manage audio devices.

    Opening the sound settings in the Control Panel
    Opening the sound settings in the Control Panel

3. Select “Recording” and Find “External Mic”

  1. On the Sound window, click on the Recording tab.

    Recording tab
    Recording tab

  2. Left-click your Apple headphones (usually named as “High Definition Audio”) and set them as default by clicking the Set Default button.

    The green check mark on your Apple headphones indicates that your PC detects it.
    Set headphones as default

In most cases, you’ll notice that there is a green checkmark on your Apple headphones. This indicates that your computer already detects and is connected with the device.
 

4. Enable Your Apple EarBuds as a Mic

  1. On the Sound window under the Recording tab, click on your Apple headphones.

    Select your Apple headphones
    Select your Apple headphones

  2. Once highlighted, click on the Properties button.

    Go to Properties
    Go to Properties

  3. On the Microphone Properties window, click on the Levels tab.

    Levels tab
    Levels tab

  4. Adjust the Microphone Levels and Microphone Boost sliders to fit your personal preference.

    Microphone Levels and Microphone Boost sliders
    Adjusting the microphone levels and microphone boost

  5. Click on Apply, then OK to save the changes.

    Save changes
    Save changes

Although it’s possible to boost your microphone up to 30db, it is not recommended due to factors such as hardware limitations and sacrificing audio quality.
 

On the off chance that your PC doesn’t recognize your Apple headphones, here’s what you should do.

  1. Left-click the Windows icon at the lower left of the screen or press the Windows key
  2. Type “sound settings” in the search box.
  3. Click on Sound Settings or “Open
  4. Under “Choose your input device”, select your Apple headphones.
Selecting Apple earbuds as input device.
Selecting Apple earbuds as the input device.

How to Use Your Apple EarBuds as Mic for Zoom

Here’s how you can set your Apple earbuds as a mic and headphones for your Zoom calls and meetings.

  1. After you join a Zoom meeting, a window pop-up will prompt you to join or test your audio. Click on “Test speaker and microphone”.
     

    Zoom's Speaker and Microphone test prompt
    Zoom’s Speaker and Microphone test prompt

  2. A ringtone will be played in order to test your speakers. If you don’t hear it, simply click No or use the drop-down menu to select your Apple headphones until you can hear the ringtone. Click Yes to proceed to the microphone test.
     

    Testing the speakers in Zoom.
    Testing the speakers in Zoom.

  3. Try speaking normally and Zoom should give you an audio replay using your Apple headphone mic. If you don’t hear anything, click ‘No’ or use the drop-down menu to select your Apple headphones. Once you can successfully hear yourself, click ‘Yes’ to proceed.

    Testing the microphone in Zoom.
    Testing the microphone in Zoom.

  4. Finally, click “Join with Computer Audio” to use your Apple headphones as a mic and headphones for Zoom.

    Joining with computer audio after testing speaker and microphone in Zoom.
    Joining with computer audio after testing speaker and microphone in Zoom.

Using Your Apple EarBuds as Your Mic for Slack

If Slack has been granted access to your PC’s chosen default microphone/Apple EarBuds (which is usually the case in most scenarios), then it should automatically be able to recognize your earphones and work as a mic with no problems whatsoever.

However, if you still experience audio issues and people can’t hear you during a Slack call, follow these steps to use the right device.

  1. Start a call by clicking on the phone icon.

    Starting a call on Slack
    Starting a call on Slack

  2. Look at the top left corner of the call window and click on the gear icon.

    Accessing settings during a Slack call
    Accessing settings during a Slack call

  3. Click on your input source and select your Apple EarBuds in the drop-down menu that appears.

    Slack audio settings
    Slack audio settings

  4. Speak normally and check if the voice meter moves up and down while you’re speaking.

Quick Guide for AirPods Users

It’s important to note that the steps to use AirPods as a mic for your PC differ from the methods we’ve discussed so far. If you tried connecting them to your PC and can’t seem to make the mic work for your calls and applications, here’s what you should do.

When you open up the Device Manager, your AirPods will show up as a “head telephone”.

How to Make Your Apple AirPods Work as a Mic

  1. On the Control Panel, locate and click on Hardware and Sound.

    Hardware and Sound
    Hardware and Sound

  2. Click on Sound or Manage audio devices.

    Manage audio devices.
    Go to ‘Manage audio devices’

  3. On the Sound window, click on the Recording tab.

    Device Recording tab
    Device Recording tab

  4. Left-click your Apple headphones (usually named as “High Definition Audio”) and click on the Properties button.

    Opening the microphone properties of your Apple headphones.
    Opening the microphone properties of your Apple headphones.

  5. On the Microphone Properties window, click on the Driver tab.

    Driver tab
    Realtek Sound Driver tab

  6. Lastly, click on Update Driver if there’s any update available.

If you’re using your Airpods with your iPhone, make sure that the ‘Automatic Ear Detection’ is turned off. This ensures that your Airpods will work continuously even when they accidentally fall out of your ears, and, ultimately, interrupting any phone call you may be having.

Conclusion

Despite the few compatibility issues that come from using Apple headphones on non-Apple products, these workarounds that we’ve provided can help you use your earbuds on PC for Zoom, Slack, Skype, Discord, and more.

So if you’ve followed the step-by-step instructions and processes correctly, then you should successfully be able to use your Apple headphones as a mic on PC.

How did you find our in-depth guide? Please let us know in the comments below. Still got problems using your Apple EarBuds on PC and for other applications? Feel free to ask us for help! We’ll be happy to assist you.

14 comments

  1. I have followed the detailed instructions to a T, and BTW they are great, however, my apple earpods still are not recognized as an option by my Lenovo Ideapad. They work but with lots of juggling between the PC volume and ZOOM volume controls…very frustrating. Thanks!!

  2. Hi there, thanks for the detailed write-up. Unfortunately my apple earbuds are not being used as the mic even when your instructions are followed. The “High Definition Audio Device” still represents the mic on the laptop (Dell XPS 15 9550). The only other mic device my computer recognizes is the USB webcam. Could you expand on your article a bit to make this work? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kyle! Have you tried navigating to the sound settings and choosing between the available input devices? If your Apple earbuds are properly connected to your laptop, it should show up there.

      1. Yes, I’ve tried everything I could think of. Audio plays from the earbuds no problem, it’s just the mic isn’t being recognized and the computer continues to use the built-in laptop microphone.

  3. Hello! Thanks for the post. I tried to use my 3.5 mm apple earbud with an audio splitter, as my desktop is old and has two jacks. When I connect everything together a unbearable noise starts and it is impossible to use the earbuds. I tried the splitter with a samsung earbud and it worked perfectly :(. Maybe the apple thing is really toooooo exclusive to be used in an old desktop. Do you have another idea to use the apple earbud?

  4. Hi, thanks for the article. I have tried using my Airpods with my HP Spectre, and the audio and mic seem to work normally when used separately (Laptop mic with Airpod stereo or Airpod mic with laptop stereo). However, they’re not able to work at the same time :(. I tried to update drivers, but it doesn’t let me update drivers (see the icon, but unclickable) even though the drivers I have are from 19/3/19. Basically, I have the same problem as Kyle, everything is detected, it works, but just not simultaneously. Would you know how to solve this?

  5. Hi, thanks for the detailed step-by-step post! My Apple earbuds (came with iPhone 6) are recognized ok on my PC, using an audio splitter, but only the microphone is not working. I followed all the steps here, but still not working. When I tested my earbuds microphone in the “sound setting”, the input bar didn’t move at all. Even if I set the microphone level and boost at maximum in the level tab of the microphone properties, the input bar went up a little, but still not responding to my voice at all. I googled a bit and found someone was saying the older earbuds (like the ones come with iPhone 4) works, but the newer earbuds (like my iPhone 6) doesn’t work. Also, there is a workaround someone introduced is to connect your audio splitter to a USB converter, like you connect the earbuds to an audio splitter then connect it to a USB converter to connect to your PC via USB interface. If I could obtain the older earbuds for iPhone 4, I would test it to see if it really works.

    1. Hi, I have obtained the old model of earbuds which comes with iPhone4 on the internet and used a splitter, then BINGO! It worked! This old model of earbuds comes with a microphone, but there is no “+”, “-“, or “center” buttons to control the volume and iPhone operation. My wild guess is that the recent models of earbuds with a microphone with “+”, “-“, and “center” buttons are not compatible with any splitters, but only the old models work. By the way, there is this article below someone is saying by adjusting the Realtek HD audio manager, the issue may be solved. It didn’t work for me though, but may work for someone, maybe…

      https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_10-hardware-winpc/iphone-headphones-microphone-problem/6cf9d0e5-b4ce-4b8f-867f-7b55da5f84a7

  6. I’ve spent a good chunk of this afternoon looking for a splitter that would work with apple earpods, and every single one I found made a point of saying it was not compatible.

    I appreciate the effort behind this post but I doubt the author confirmed the linked splitter works for apple earpods, not-to-mention the linked splitter isn’t even available on amazon.

    To my knowledge there is no compatible 3.5mm splitter for apple earpods…

  7. They work but the mic is in the actual ear part for some reason and it’s not picking up in the mic part. What should I do?

  8. This works on my newer windows 10 platform A.

    But when I try the same on a1 year older platform B, it won’t just send any audio.

    I.E. when I open the most simple app in windows “voice recorder” with B it will say: “You need to set up a microphone in settings” – however I did everything above and the High Definition plug is set as default… (and it’s not there when I unplug it) (and it works for A…)

    So apparently the B can’t make the Iphone headphone recieve the sound from…

    So this article doesn’t help with that…

  9. hello Dionne,

    Have any suggestions on how to use apple airpods with Teams on the pc?

    It worked briefly for a few seconds, but would never stay connected.

    Thank you in advance,
    JT

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