AirPods Not Connecting: An Ultimate Guide for PC, Mac, iPhone, & Android

Woman using AirPods with her Mac (From: Pexels)
Woman using AirPods with her Mac (From: Pexels)

If your AirPods are not connecting to your iPhone, Mac, PC, or Android devices, here are the tested and proven solutions you can try.

The AirPods are supposedly seamless when it comes to establishing and maintaining their connection. What makes them so amazing is that all you have to do is pop up that lid, and everything instantly falls into place. But, what if one day they just won’t?

Answer me this — don’t you hate it when your 5-second routine to connect your AirPods turns into an hour-long Google search for solutions? Or perhaps when you’re busy outside and they just won’t cooperate, so you end up spending your time music-less?

And as the AirPods reached more users, both Apple and non-Apple ones, these connectivity problems became more apparent. We understand that scrambling for solutions can be stressful, so here’s an all-around guide on how to fix this up.

Why Are Your Airpods Not Connecting

Woman using AirPods with her Mac (From: Pexels)
Woman using AirPods with her Mac (From: Pexels)

A whole load of things can cause connection issues for your AirPods. This includes firmware issues, connection bugs, or even physical issues, to name a few. Knowing the cause of your problem is already half the battle won. In doing so, you’ll know what solutions to try out.

If you’re unsure of what to do first, some preliminary checks and general troubleshooting is a good start. Most of the time, these simple solutions would fix your problem. So, only after exhausting these should you try out more advanced solutions.

Reset your AirPods

Resetting your AirPods is one of the most basic yet effective solutions you can try out. By doing so, you’ll be giving your device and AirPods a fresh start. This can resolve firmware issues and other bugs since it deletes all the data from the AirPods where these issues may have slipped in.

Here’s how to reset AirPods:

  1. Head to Settings > Bluetooth and tap the “i” icon next to your Airpods.

    Phone Bluetooth Settings
    Phone Bluetooth Settings

  2. Choose “Forget This Device”.

    Forget This Device in iPhone Bluetooth Settings
    Forget This Device in iPhone Bluetooth Settings

  3. Connect your AirPods again the same way you connected them when you first got them.

    Bluetooth Settings with AirPods connected
    Bluetooth Settings with AirPods connected

Clean the AirPods

Through time, dirt from your ears can accumulate on your AirPods and wreak havoc. Dirty AirPods may harbor bacteria and moisture that can cause electrical damage and spotty connection. Meanwhile, debris and dirt can block the proximity sensors and prevent proper connection.

Cleaning your AirPods is easy and simple when done right, but may cause irreparable problems if done wrong.

For one, you may end up worsening the problem by pushing dirt into the wrong spots. Or, perhaps you might be using a cleaning agent that is too corrosive. Before anything else, be sure that you actually know how to properly clean your AirPods.

Cleaning your AirPods every 72 hours should keep dirt and bacteria buildup from getting out of hand. Maintaining proper ear hygiene is also important since this is a major source of dirt.

For this, you will need 70% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs, a toothpick, and a toothbrush. Here’s a quick run-through on how to clean your AirPods:

  1. Use the toothbrush and the cotton swabs, both damp with alcohol, to brush through the AirPods’ crevices and edges. Do this for the charging case as well.

    Brushing the AirPods with toothbrush or cotton swab
    Brushing the AirPods with toothbrush or cotton swab

  2. Use the toothpick to pick out the remaining debris or dirt that has stuck to the edges of the AirPods and the case.

    Using a toothpick to reach inside your AirPods
    Using a toothpick to reach inside your AirPods

  3. Use a lint-free cloth to rub the pieces with a little alcohol just to kill off any bacteria.

Update your AirPods to the latest firmware

Your AirPods are operated by firmware, and this allows them to function properly. But, much like any software, a bug may arise from firmware due to coding errors or incompatibility. And, it just so happens that some of these bugs may be the culprit for your connection issues.

Software and firmware are often interchanged in today’s digital world, but they’re technically different. Firmware is a type of software and serves as the operating system of less complex devices such as your AirPods. On the other hand, software is an advanced operating system used by more complicated devices such as smartphones and laptops.

Currently, there is no way to update the firmware of your AirPods manually nor without an iPhone. Firmware updates are rolled out directly to your devices by Apple. In the case of AirPods, they automatically get updated once they are connected to your iPhone.

Make sure your AirPods have enough charge

Power issues can also get in the way of proper connection. If your AirPods are tugging between life and death, the Bluetooth connection can get spotty and performance may drop. At times, AirPods with low batteries would not even connect at all.

There are multiple ways to check your AirPods’ battery status. The simplest way is to bring your charging case close to your iPhone and raise the lid to open up the battery prompt. Another way is to check the battery widget of your iPhone while the AirPods are connected.

Checking Battery status of AirPods on iPhone
Checking Battery status of AirPods on iPhone
The AirPods were designed to get up to 5 hours of listening time on a full charge and the charging case can charge up your AirPods around 4-5 times.

Restart your audio source

If you’ve reset your AirPods already and they are as updated and as clean as they could be but the problem still persists, then there’s a chance the audio source is the cause of the problem. To counter this, a quick restart is advisable to give the device a fresh start without bugs or performance issues.

If this doesn’t work, don’t lose hope just yet. Whether you’re using a Mac, an iPhone, or a Windows PC, there are still some more things you could try out to solve the problem. We’ll discuss those in detail in the coming sections so just stick around for a bit.

How to Fix AirPods Not Connecting to Mac

The Mac and the AirPods share one thing in common – they are both game-changers in the tech industry. Around 3-6 Million Mac units have been sold every quarter of every year since 2006. Without a doubt, a huge chunk of these Mac users are also patrons of Apple’s AirPods.

The first Mac was released in 1984 in the form of the Apple Macintosh 128K. What was then a humble computer grew and propelled Apple into the influential multi-billion tech company we know of today.

If you’re one of the millions of Mac users who are experiencing some trouble connecting the two devices, this section is for you. If you suspect that your Mac is the reason behind the connection issues, be sure to try out some of the workarounds we’ll be discussing below.

Update your Mac System

We learned earlier the difference between firmware and software. While it is important to keep your AirPods’ firmware up to date, it is also important to update the software of the device you’re connecting to.

The firmware of your AirPods and the software of your Mac device go hand in hand. So, an outdated Mac software may struggle to establish a clean connection with updated AirPods. As per Apple, your Generation 2 AirPods will only run on macOS Mojave 10.12.4 or later while the 1st Generation AirPods can run with macOS Sierra or later.

Here’s the simplest way to update your Mac:

  1. Go to the Apple menu > System Preferences

    Mac System Preferences and Sound Settings (From: YouTube/Apple Support) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EYUzcpvNRp4
    Mac System Preferences and Sound Settings (From: YouTube/Apple Support) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EYUzcpvNRp4

  2. Choose Software update and you’ll be given an option to update.

    MacOS Software Update Settings (From: YouTube/Apple Support)
    MacOS Software Update Settings (From: YouTube/Apple Support)

Reset Bluetooth connection

Resetting the Bluetooth connection allows your AirPods and your Mac to reconnect and start off on the right foot. This is a great way to remove any bugs that may have developed through time that hampers proper connection between the two devices.

In order to reset the Bluetooth connection between your Mac and your AirPods, follow these steps:

  1. Go to System Preferences and click turn on your Bluetooth.

    System Preferences and Bluetooth Settings on Mac (From: YouTube/Team AG) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=477iOCkDV2c
    System Preferences and Bluetooth Settings on Mac (From: YouTube/Team AG) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=477iOCkDV2c

  2. Look for your AirPods on the list of devices and click the X button beside its name. You can also tap it with two fingers to bring up the additional options where you can choose Forget as well.

    AirPods Bluetooth Settings on Mac (From: YouTube/Team AG)
    AirPods Bluetooth Settings on Mac (From: YouTube/Team AG)

  3. Reconnect the devices manually by holding the AirPods’ setup button until the status light flashes white. At the same time, go to System Preferences > Bluetooth and select the AirPods on the list of devices to connect to it.

    Connecting AirPods to Macbook (From: YouTube/Team AG)
    Connecting AirPods to Macbook (From: YouTube/Team AG)

Set your AirPods as the default device

When AirPods are connected to your Mac, the sound output and input are automatically assigned to the AirPods. This allows users to seamlessly connect and use the AirPods without having to tinker with any more settings.

But, in some cases, the Mac may not be able to process this. This results in your AirPods staying connected but unusable since your output and input are assigned to a different channel. This may seem like a connection issue since your AirPods are connected but no sound is coming out, but it’s more of a setting issue really.

Here’s how you can manually set your AirPods as the default audio device:

  1. Head to System Preferences > Sound

    System Preferences and Sounds on Mac (From: YouTube/Paravuth Tech-Talk)
    System Preferences and Sounds on Mac (From: YouTube/Paravuth Tech-Talk)

  2. Click the Output tab and select your AirPods. Do the same for the Input tab.

    Setting sound output and input on Mac (From: YouTube/Paravuth Tech-Talk)
    Setting sound output and input on Mac (From: YouTube/Paravuth Tech-Talk)

How to Fix AirPods Not Connecting to iPhone

AirPods and iPhones go together like peanut butter and jelly. In fact, the AirPods were created to cater to the demand for an audio device that could work with the audio jack-less iPhone 7 and the models after that.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, there are currently 1 Billion iPhone users in the world today. Being Apple users, a huge portion of that population have AirPods too — and that probably includes you. So, if you suspect that your AirPods’ connection issues are caused by your iPhone, there are some quick fixes you can try to sort things out.

Check your iOS version

Following the same principle as updating your Mac, ensuring that your iPhone is up to date is also crucial in preventing issues when connecting to your AirPods. The AirPods may work with any device running in iOS 10 or higher, but that should not be a reason to let iOS updates off the hook.

Both your AirPods’ firmware and iPhone’s software are updated to ensure they perform as good as they should be. If you fail to update your iPhone, bugs and other issues may remain on your phone, including those that are causing your connection issues.

To check for the latest iOS software update, follow these steps:

  1. Head to Settings > General

    General iPhone Settings
    General iPhone Settings

  2. Choose Software Update to check if there is an update available.

    Checking Software version on iPhone
    Checking Software version on iPhone

Remember to turn on Automatic Updates on the Software Update menu to ensure that you get the latest update as soon as you can. It’s also a good measure to turn on automatic iCloud Backup by going to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud Backup. This would ensure that your phone is always ready to be updated anytime.

Restart Bluetooth connection

At times, Bluetooth issues between your AirPods and your iPhone can arise from reasons beyond our understanding. For some reason, the communication between the two devices may not work as well as we expect it, and this is when a restart is warranted.

Restarting and resetting are two slightly different processes. With restarting, we’re only giving the AirPods and the iPhone a chance to pair up again like how you would pair it up on a regular day. Resetting, on the other hand, pertains to totally deleting all existing data between the two in order to establish a brand new connection.

Restarting the Bluetooth connection between your iPhone and AirPods is easy. Here’s how:

  1. Just head on to Settings > Bluetooth.

    Bluetooth Settings on iPhone
    Bluetooth Settings on iPhone

  2. Press the “i” button beside your AirPods’ name.

    Additional settings for AirPods on iPhone
    Additional settings for AirPods on iPhone

  3. Click disconnect and turn off your Bluetooth for a minute.

    Disconnecting AirPods from iPhone
    Disconnecting AirPods from iPhone

  4. Open the lid of your AirPods again to automatically connect it back to your iPhone.

    Instant connect on AirPods
    Instant connect on AirPods

Reset Network Settings

Resetting your iPhone’s Network Settings deletes all internal data related to wireless connections. To be more exact, this will remove WiFi and Bluetooth data.

This would forget all Bluetooth devices you’ve connected to. As a result, this will effectively remove all bugs that may be causing the connection issues with your AirPods.

Resetting Network Settings effectively removes all WiFi passwords as well. Before doing this, make sure that you have important WiFi passwords listed out somewhere like your Notes app for easier access in the future.

To reset your Network Settings, follow these steps:

  1. Head to Settings > General

    General Settings
    General Settings

  2. Click Reset.

    Resetting settings on iPhone
    Resetting settings on iPhone

  3. Reset Network Settings. You will be asked to provide your passcode to confirm the command.

    Resetting Network settings on iPhone
    Resetting Network settings on iPhone

Turn off ‘Low Power Mode’

Low Power Mode is a protocol that limits the background functions of an iPhone to preserve the battery. This mode prompts to be activated once the iPhone reaches 20%.

Low Power Mode was released together with iOS 9. This is available on all variants of iPhones and iPads sold in the market today.

Once you are in Low Power Mode, your phone may not be as fast and as good since performance will be sacrificed to save up the battery. As a result, wireless connections such as Bluetooth can be spotty, and that’s one reason why you may be experiencing connection issues with your AirPods.

Here’s how you can turn off Low Power Mode:

  1. Swipe down from the top of your screen to pull down the Control Center.

    Pulling down the Control Center on iPhone
    Pulling down the Control Center on iPhone

  2. Click the Battery icon to turn off the Low Power Mode.

    Low Power Mode in Control Center
    Low Power Mode in Control Center

  3. You can also go to Settings> Battery and toggle Low Power Mode there.

    Low Power Mode on iPhone Settings
    Low Power Mode on iPhone Settings

How to Fix AirPods Not Connecting to Windows PC

Technically speaking, AirPods weren’t exactly made to work perfectly well with Windows PCs. Although the AirPods can and will connect to your PC via Bluetooth, you won’t be able to take advantage of features such as instant pairing.

As of August 2021, more than 73% of PCs used in the world have Windows as their operating system.

But, that shouldn’t stop people from enjoying their AirPods. At the same time, that won’t stop us from helping you out. If you’re one of those people experiencing connection issues with Windows, here are some things you could try:

How to properly connect AirPods to Windows PC

Making sure that you properly connect your AirPods to your Windows PC lessens the chances of having problems down the line. If your AirPods connect to your Windows PC without any hitches, you can expect your experience to be the same.

More so, a lot of Windows users are unaware of how to connect Bluetooth devices to their PCs in the first place. So, without further ado, here’s how you can do it according to Team AG on YouTube:

  1. Go to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth & Other Devices.

    Windows 10 Bluetooth Settings (From: YouTube/Team AG)
    Windows 10 Bluetooth Settings (From: YouTube/Team AG)

  2. Click Add a device and choose Bluetooth. By this time, the lid of your AirPods should be opened so that your PC can detect it.

    Adding a Bluetooth device on Windows 10 (From: YouTube/Team AG)
    Adding a Bluetooth device on Windows 10 (From: YouTube/Team AG)

  3. Choose the AirPods from the list of devices. While doing so, press the setup button on your AirPods until your PC prompts you that the device is now ready to go.

    Adding AirPods as Bluetooth device on Windows (From: YouTube/Team AG)
    Adding AirPods as Bluetooth device on Windows (From: YouTube/Team AG)

Disconnect AirPods from nearby Apple devices

Once you open the lid of your AirPods, nearby Apple devices will be able to detect it right away. If any of the nearby Apple devices have previously been connected with the AirPods, the two will connect instantly. Once this happens, your Windows PC won’t be able to connect to the AirPods anymore unless you disconnect your iPhone.

Windows PCs are no match against Apple’s instant pairing with the AirPods, but the workaround here is pretty easy. All you really need to do is to turn off the Bluetooth on nearby Apple devices that have been paired with your AirPods. This leaves your Windows PC without any competition — free to connect to your AirPods.

Disable Fast Boot and Restart

Fast Boot or Fast Startup is a Windows 10 feature that reduces the time for your PC to boot up after being shut down. Essentially, Fast Boot shortcuts the booting process by not fully shutting down the PC and choosing deep sleep instead.

While this may do wonders for booting time, Fast Boot can also cause all sorts of errors and bugs. As a result, having Fast Boot on at all times may affect the performance of your PC and result in unexplainable errors such as connection issues.

Follow these steps to disable Fast Startup on your PC:

  1. Press the Windows Key + R to bring up the Run dialogue and enter in powercfg.cpl

    Run dialog on Windows 10
    Run dialog on Windows 10

  2. On the left panel, click “Choose what the power buttons do” and uncheck the box for “turn on fast startup.”

    Turning off Fast Startup on Windows
    Turning off Fast Startup on Windows

  3. Restart your Windows PC and reconnect your AirPods.

    Restarting Windows PC
    Restarting Windows PC

You will only be able to change this if your account has administrative permissions.

How to Fix AirPods Not Connecting to Android

While AirPods are primarily made for Apple Devices, they should generally connect with any Bluetooth devices as well.

Granted, some features may not be available when connecting AirPods with Android. But, at least, you can enjoy listening to music with the trend-setting AirPods design and sound quality, even when you’re using your Android devices.

However, because they’re technically not made for each other, you can expect some issues with establishing a connection from time to time. Here are a few things you can do to avoid these issues:

Manually connect your AirPods to Android devices

Unfortunately, the Automatic Pairing feature you enjoy when using your AirPods with Apple devices isn’t available for Android. That’s why you have to pair and connect manually every time you want to use your AirPods with your Android device.

To do so, simply:

  1. Go to your Android “Settings “and click “Connections”

    Choose Device connectivity.
    Choose Device connectivity.

  2. Enable Bluetooth by tapping the toggle button.

    Make sure the Bluetooth connection is on.
    Make sure the Bluetooth connection is on.

  3. Open your AirPods’ case, make sure the earbuds are inside, then close it again.

    Open charging case
    Open charging case

  4. Press the setup button at the back of the charging case until the status light flashes white.

    Turn AirPods to Pairing mode
    Turn AirPods to Pairing mode

  5. Wait for your AirPods to appear in the list of available Bluetooth devices. Once it appears, simply tap the to establish a connection and you’re good to go!

    AirPods connected to Android
    AirPods connected to Android

Some settings featured above may look different depending on your device. But the general instructions should be the same.

Disconnect with other devices

Just like with the case of connecting AirPods to Windows, your Android device cannot match the connection AirPods have with Apple devices. When turning the AirPods to pairing mode, they typically search for Apple devices, first, before anything else.

The Automatic Pairing feature can also hinder them from connecting with your Android. 

Therefore, if your Android device can’t even add the AirPods to the list of available devices when turning on your Bluetooth, or if it’s listed but can’t establish a connection, see if it’s already connected with a different Apple device.

If so, you can either turn off the other device’s Bluetooth function or make them ‘forget’ the AirPods completely. 

Conclusion

If you tried out the right solutions from the ones we mentioned, then your AirPods should be on your ears now playing your favorite music. You’re probably relieved now that you wouldn’t have to go out and spend to replace your trusty AirPods.

But, it is important to remember that connection problems are a part of our lives already. We’re bound to encounter these issues as we continue to push the boundaries of wireless technology.

Problems such as connection issues can be frustrating, especially when solutions you try out do not seem to work. But, solving this issue is about knowing where to start and knowing what to try out next. Moreover, if you find that your AirPods simply cannot hold their connection, feel free to check out our handy guide on what to do when AirPods keep disconnecting.

Do you have any more solutions that we haven’t mentioned? What worked for you? Let us know through the comments so that everyone can try them out too!

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