One AirPod Not Working: Problems and Fixes

Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro
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We discuss why one of your AirPods isn’t working and how to get it fixed and functioning within minutes.

They say one is better than none. But when it comes to your AirPods, that’s simply unacceptable. Trying to relax and immerse yourself in good music or a movie is virtually impossible with only one Airpod.

Plus, AirPods don’t exactly come cheap, so you deserve the full stereo sound quality they can offer.

We hear your frustration, so we’ve put together this handy guide that tackles all the possible reasons why one of your AirPods isn’t working. We’ve also included several budget-friendly solutions to try first to get your AirPods up and running again. So let’s get to it!

Why Is One of Your AirPods Not Working?

AirPods can malfunction for several reasons, and this can typically result in the following scenarios:

  • One Airpod having no sound: If audio is only coming out of one Airpod, you’re likely looking at an audio setting or volume issue. In other cases, the earbud mesh could be clogged with gunk or debris, affecting your sound.
  • One Airpod not connecting: If one of your AirPods isn’t pairing to your device, it’s likely because your device firmware or OS hasn’t been updated yet. Or it could also be that your Network Settings need refreshing, especially if you have a lot of existing Bluetooth connections.
  • One Airpod not charging: If one of your AirPods isn’t charging, it could be that the Airpod itself is completely drained and needs time to charge up. The charging case may also not have enough juice to charge up the earbuds. In other cases, the charging ports may need cleaning, or the firmware needs updating.

One AirPod Not Working: Preliminary Troubleshooting

Pinpointing the problem with your AirPods isn’t always a quick and easy task. And some solutions can be a bit invasive. That’s why it’s necessary to first strike off the most common causes before jumping to the more technical steps.

Here are some preliminary checks you can do, just to be safe:

Charge your AirPods

We often overlook the possibility that our AirPods aren’t connecting because it’s low on battery. To make sure this isn’t the problem, put both AirPods back into the case and charge them via the Qi-certified charging mat or Lightning cable for a couple of minutes.

To check if both AirPods are properly charging, you can do the following:

AirPods Pro with green status light
AirPods Pro with green status light
  • Check the charging status via another Apple device. For iPhones and iPads, open the charging case and hold it near the device. The status should pop up in a few seconds.
AirPods Pro status pop-up
AirPods Pro status pop-up
  • Check AirPods status on Mac. Open your charging case and click the Bluetooth icon in the upper right corner. Locate your AirPods in the list of devices and hover over it to display the charging status.
AirPods Pro status on Mac
AirPods Pro status on Mac

Once you’ve confirmed that your AirPods are charging, try re-pairing them with your device to see if it worked.

Update Operating System (OS) compatibility

For any connection issues, macOS/iOS compatibility is something to look into. Keep in mind that different AirPods models have different minimum system requirements for Macbook and iPhone/iPad.

Here’s a quick list of what those requirements are:

  • AirPods (Gen 1): macOS Sierra or later / iOS 10 or later
  • AirPods (Gen 2): macOS Mojave 10.14.4 or later / iOS 10 or later
  • AirPods (Gen 3): macOS Monterey or later / iOS 15.1 or later
  • AirPods Pro: macOS Catalina 10.15.1 or later / iOS 13.2 or later

To avoid any compatibility issues, be sure to update your device to the latest OS. Here’s how:

For iPhone

  1. For iPhones, select Settings on the main screen, then General.

    Going to iPhone Settings
    Going to iPhone Settings

  2. If there’s a new update available, you should see a Download and Install option.

    Installing software update
    Installing software update

For Mac

  1. Click the Apple Menu icon in the upper left corner, and select About This Mac.

    Accessing 'About This Mac'
    Accessing ‘About This Mac’

  2. Select Software Update to check if your macOS needs updating or not.

    Mac Software Update
    Mac Software Update

Check if it’s an issue with your AirPods or device

To make sure you’re not wasting time focusing on the wrong solutions, it’s essential to determine if the problem lies with your AirPods or your audio source. And here’s where testing brings clarity.

If your AirPods work well with other devices, then the issue might be with your current device. Conversely, if other AirPods work well with that same device, then the problem may be your AirPods.

If the above suggestions didn’t work, no need to panic. We’ve got more ideas on how you can fix your AirPods.

What to Do When One AirPod Isn’t Working

If you’re still stuck with one nonfunctioning AirPod even after charging them and doing necessary updates, you’ll need to get a little more hands-on.

For instance, a good cleaning is sometimes enough to fix certain audio issues. And other times, restarting or resetting your device will do the trick, or it may just be an issue with your audio settings.

Here’s what to do to perform these fixes:

Adjust the Stereo Balance

Another reason for your predicament could be a stereo balance problem. Many users don’t realize that their devices can customize the sound output on the left and right AirPods. This setting is known as Stereo Balance, and it’s commonly used for hearing-impaired users.

Unless you disable this option, any Apple device can distribute the sound towards just one side. For example, if no sound is emitted from your right AirPod, you may have accidentally swiped the slider to the left.

Luckily, solving this isn’t too big a challenge. For your convenience, we’ve covered the most likely scenarios with iPhones, Android phones, Mac, and Windows.

How to adjust Stereo Balance on iPhone

  1. Under Settings, select the Accessibility tab.

    iPhone Accessibility settings
    iPhone Accessibility settings

  2. Scroll to the Hearing section and tap on the Audio/Visual.

    Audio/Visual option
    Audio/Visual option

  3. Ensure that the slider is midway between L and R. If it isn’t, adjust the slider so it’s in the middle.

    Adjust balance slider
    Adjust balance slider

  4. Make sure the Mono Audio toggle is turned off.

    Disable Mono Audio
    Disable Mono Audio

How to adjust Stereo Balance on Mac

  1. Open the System Preferences app. Click on Sound.

    Mac System Preferences
    Mac System Preferences

  2. Under Output, select the name of your AirPods from the list.

    Sound output tab
    Sound output tab

  3. Ensure the slider is midway between Left and Right under the Balance section.

    Adjusting Balance section
    Adjusting Balance section

  4. Open the System Preferences app. Click on Accessibility.

    Mac Accessibility settings
    Mac Accessibility settings

  5. Scroll to Audio and make sure the Mono Audio checkbox is unchecked.

    Disable playing stereo audio as mono
    Disable playing stereo audio as mono

Old Mac models come with Bluetooth chips. These can interfere with the connection between your AirPods and the device, so some changes (like the stereo balance) may not be applied automatically. To fix this bug, simply disable and enable your Mac’s Bluetooth.

How to adjust Stereo Balance on Android

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Searching for Settings on Android phone
    Searching for Settings on Android phone

  2. Scroll down and click on Accessibility.

    Android Accessibility settings
    Android Accessibility settings

  3. Select Hearing Enhancements and you’ll see a slider that says Left/Right Sound Balance.

    Hearing enhancements on Android
    Hearing enhancements on Android

  4. Bring the marker to the middle for equal audio distribution to both your left and right AirPods.
Disclaimer: the following steps are for a Samsung Galaxy phone. However, the procedure for other android devices should be largely similar.

How to adjust Stereo Balance on Windows

  1. Right-click on the speaker icon in the system tray and select Open Sound Settings.

    Open Windows Sound settings
    Open Windows Sound settings

  2. In the Sound settings window, select your AirPods from the dropdown menu of the output device. Then, select Device properties.

    Sound Output settings on Windows PC
    Sound Output settings on Windows PC

  3. Under Balance, ensure both L and R have the same volume levels.

    Adjusting L/R balance on Windows PC
    Adjusting L/R balance on Windows PC

Clean your AirPods

Despite its white and glistening exterior, AirPods can get dirty quite easily. Dust or lint can accumulate within the AirPods’ crevices under your watch.

When these materials clog up the internal circuitry, they can cause various problems.

First off, dirt can muffle your audio output, making it sound less crisp and clear. It can also disrupt the Bluetooth sensor within your AirPods, resulting in pairing or connection issues. Lastly, dirt can block the charge conductors, preventing your AirPods from getting a proper charge.

Fortunately, cleaning your AirPods and keeping them debris-free is a pretty straightforward process. All you need are:

  • lint-free cloth
  • slightly dampened cloth/disinfecting wipes
  • 70% isopropyl alcohol
  • a dry cotton swab

Here’s how you can clean your AirPods without damaging them:

  1. Dampen a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and gently clean your AirPods’ microphone and speaker meshes. Apple recommends using a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes for cleaning your AirPods.
    Cleaning AirPods with cotton swab
    Cleaning AirPods with cotton swab

    AirPods Gen 1 and 2 are not water-resistant at all, whereas the AirPods Gen 3 and Pro offer some water and sweat resistance. However, all four models are not waterproof, so make sure not to get moisture in any openings.
  2. Then, dry them with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth.

    Drying AirPods with cloth
    Drying AirPods with cloth

  3. Leave them out to completely dry before placing them back into the charging case.
Never use sharp objects or abrasive materials, such as scouring pads or bleach, to clean your AirPods.

Still experiencing any issues with your AirPods pro, max, or charging case? Check out our detailed guide on how to clean your AirPods.

Do a Hard Reset

Sometimes, it’s easiest to start over with a clean slate. If the above methods didn’t work, it can be time-consuming to investigate the root cause. That’s why a hard reset is the most efficient solution.

Resetting your AirPods‌ erases the pre-existing configurations and previously linked devices, and restores them to factory default settings. Along with that, it also removes all the technical glitches you’ve been bugged with.

To do a hard reset, simply follow these steps:

  1. Put both your ‌AirPods‌ back into the charging case and keep the lid open.

    AirPods on charging case
    AirPods on charging case

  2. Press and hold the button on the back of the case for about 15 seconds until you see the status light flashing amber.

    Holding button on charging case
    Holding button on charging case

  3. Close and reopen your charging case, then reconnect your ‌AirPods‌ close to your device.

    Reconnecting AirPods
    Reconnecting AirPods

Restart your device

Another possible reason for one AirPod not working could be errors caused by the paired device itself.

For instance, when a smartphone is left on for too long, the RAM (Random-Access Memory) can become bogged down with loads of temporary cache files, logs, and other background app processes. Ultimately, this slows down the system and causes errors.

By simply restarting the device, you can clear out all these unwanted files and processes.

The process of restarting is different depending on the device, but here’s how to do it on iPhones:

For iPhone SE (Gen 1), 5, or earlier

How to restart iPhone SE (Gen 1), 5, or earlier
How to restart iPhone SE (Gen 1), 5, or earlier
  1. Press down the top button until the power slider pops up.
  2. Move the slider to the right, then wait 30 seconds for it to completely shut off.
  3. Press and hold the top button again until the Apple logo appears.

For iPhone SE (Gen 2 & 3), 8, 7, or 6

How to restart iPhone SE (Gen 2 & 3), 8, 7, or 6
How to restart iPhone SE (Gen 2 & 3), 8, 7, or 6
  1. Hold down the right side button until the power slider pops up.
  2. Move the slider to the right, then wait 30 seconds for it to completely shut off.
  3. Press and hold the right-side button again until the Apple logo appears.

For iPhone X, 11, 12, or 13

How to restart iPhone X, 11, 12, or 13
How to restart iPhone X, 11, 12, or 13
  1. Hold down the volume and power button until the power slider pops up.
  2. Move the slider to the right, then wait 30 seconds for it to completely shut off.
  3. Press and hold the power button on the right side until the Apple logo appears.

Forget and Reconnect the AirPods

It’s particularly irritating when one AirPod drops the connection intermittently or stops working for no apparent reason.

This could mean that your AirPods may not be configured correctly or face incompatibility issues. Hence, the inconsistencies in your connection. Thankfully, fixing this is relatively easy. All it takes is a simple reset.

Follow these steps to resolve these annoying inconsistencies.

  1. Ensure both AirPods are in the charging case and not paired to your device.
  2. Launch Settings on your iPhone or iPad.

    iPhone settings
    iPhone settings

  3. Tap Bluetooth, and then tap the ‘i’ icon next to your AirPods. Select ‘Forget this Device’.
    'Forgetting' AirPods on Iphone
    ‘Forgetting’ AirPods on Iphone

    Keep in mind that opting to forget AirPods on your iPhone or iPad also disconnects them from all other devices on which your iCloud ID is logged in.
  4. Open the charging case lid. Press and hold the button on the back of the case for at least 15 seconds. The internal light on the front of the case should flash white then amber, indicating the AirPods (Gen 2) have been reset.

    Resetting AirPods
    Resetting AirPods

  5. Close the lid of your AirPods case and open it up again after about 7 seconds.
  6. Hold the AirPods case with the open lid next to your Apple Device. It should recognize the AirPods, and you’ll see a popup request to connect.

    Pop-up request to connect AirPods to iPhone
    Pop-up request to connect AirPods to iPhone

  7. If the above steps don’t work, launch the Settings app. Under the General tab, select Reset, then click on Reset Network Settings. Repeat steps 4-6.

    Reset Network Settings on iPhone
    Reset Network Settings on iPhone

Still having trouble with reconnecting your AirPods despite following the above steps? Here’s all you need to know about AirPods’ connectivity issues and how to fix them.

Reset your network settings

Your device’s network settings determine how it connects to other devices, and a lot of factors can disrupt or change how that process works. For example, perhaps you have way too many existing Bluetooth or WiFi connections, or maybe you’ve messed around with a VPN app that has changed some of those settings.

In such cases, instead of manually trying to tweak your network settings, it’s best to just completely reset them and start afresh. Here’s how:

How to reset network settings of your iPhone

  1. Launch the Settings app and click on the General tab.

    General settings on iPhone
    General settings on iPhone

  2. Click on the Reset tab

    Click 'Reset'
    Click ‘Reset’

  3. Select Reset Network Settings.

    Reset Network Settings
    Reset Network Settings

How to reset network settings of your Android

  1. Open the Settings app and select General Management.

    General management settings on Android
    General management settings on Android

  2. Click on Reset to view the reset menu.

    Tap 'Reset'
    Tap ‘Reset’

  3. Select Reset Network Settings and then Reset Settings button to confirm.

    Reset settings
    Reset settings

If Nothing Works, Contact Apple Support

If none of the above solutions helped solve the problem, you’re most likely looking at a hardware issue. But before you roll up your sleeves and break out the tools, be warned that DIY hardware repairs on AirPods are not advised.

AirPods contain proprietary components that require the expertise of technicians who understand how to fix them. And more importantly, if you try getting into your AirPods yourself, you will void your warranty and possibly end up spending more. So, it’s best to leave these types of repairs to Apple Support.

While Apple does have a DIY or Self Service Repair option, this only covers common repairs for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, and not the AirPods.

Getting your AirPods ready for service

If you’ve decided to have your AirPods repaired by Apple Support, there are several ways to go about that:

  • Consultation: You can call an Apple Support advisor and discuss repair options. Or you could go to an Apple Store and consult with a Genius.
  • Carry-in Repair: You can take your AirPods to an Apple Authorized Service Provider near you.
  • Mail-in Repair: You can send off your AirPods in a prepaid shipping box supplied by Apple. Shipment can be arranged online or via phone.

Regardless of which option you go for, make sure to prepare the following items to ensure a smooth repair process:

  • AirPods serial number
  • AirPods charging case
  • Proof of purchase (original receipt or AirPods box)
Remember to remove the ear tips of your AirPods Pro before sending them in for repairs, as they won’t be returned to you.

In terms of how long it’ll take to get your AirPods fixed, it depends on the severity of the problem. Replacements, on the other hand, usually take 1 week to fulfill. You can always check the status of your repair on the Apple Support page.

As for the cost, you can check the Apple website for an overview of replacement and out-of-warranty fees for AirPods.

Conclusion

You won’t have to live awkwardly with one AirPod not working any longer. With both AirPods in sync, enjoy your latest Netflix movie with full surround sound or unwind by jamming to your favorite Spotify playlist.

We hope our suggestions were useful in resolving your glitches. Tell us in the comments section which solution fixed your issue or if the problem persists despite trying everything.

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