How to Find Lost Apple AirPods

how to use find my AirPods
image credit: AJ_Watt/E+Getty Images

When Apple announced its truly wireless AirPods earbuds, many pundits declared that paying over US$150 for easy-to-lose gadgets was a bad idea. After all, with no wires and being small and light enough to fit in your ears, AirPods should be easy to lose. 

That may be true, but Apple has experience helping people find their lost products. Find My iPhone has been helping users find their lost or stolen iPhones for years.

Apple has now extended Find My iPhone to locate AirPods (with a service dubbed "Find My AirPods"). Here's what you need to know to set up and use this tool to help you find your lost Apple AirPods.

Requirements for Using Find My AirPods

In order to use Find My AirPods, you'll need:

  • An iOS device running iOS 10.3 or higher
  • Your AirPods paired with that iOS device (you can't use Find My AirPods if you're using them with a non-Apple device)
  • A valid iCloud account
  • Find My iPhone enabled on your iOS device before you lose your AirPods.

How to Set Up Find My AirPods

Anyone who's set up Find My iPhone knows that you need an iCloud account to do it. If you've also set up your AirPods to work with an iOS device, you probably know that they use your iCloud account to automatically be paired to every other device you have that uses the same iCloud account.

By itself that's a nice feature, but when it comes to finding lost AirPods it's especially useful.

That's because you don't have to set up Find My AirPods on its own. As long as you have an active iCloud account on the iPhone or iPad you used to set up the iPhone, and have Find My iPhone enabled on that device, your AirPods are automatically added to Find My AirPods. Pretty easy, right? 

How to Use Find My AirPods

If you've lost your AirPods and want to find them using Find My AirPods, you need one of two things:

  • An iOS device with the Find My iPhone app installed on it
  • A computer with a web browser where you can log into your iCloud account.

Assuming you've got one or the other, follow these steps to find your AirPods:

  1. Tap the Find My iPhone app to launch it on the iOS device or go to iCloud.com on the computer
  2. Log in with the iCloud account you used to set up your AirPods. If you're on an iOS device, skip to step 4
  3. On a computer, click the Find iPhone icon
  4. With this done, Find My iPhone/AirPods launches and attempts to locate your AirPods. Click the All Devices menu and select AirPods. On an iOS device, just tap AirPods
  5. If they're found, you'll see them plotted on a map. The device you're using to find them appears on the map as a blue dot. There are two colored dots that can represent your AirPods:
    1. Green—This means your AirPods are online (connected to an iPhone or iPad) and that you can play a sound through them to make them easier to find
    2. Gray—This means your AirPods can't be located for a number of reasons described in Why Your AirPods Won't Show Up later in this article
  6. If your AirPods have a green dot next to them, click on the dot and then click the i icon in the pop up
  7. In the pop up in the top corner of the screen, click Play Sound to have your AirPods play a noise. 
  1. When your AirPods are playing the sound, you have a few options:
    1. Stop Playing—This stops the sound (surprising!)
    2. Mute Left—This stops the sound playing from the left AirPod to help you find the right one
    3. Mute Right—This stops the sound in the right AirPods to help you find the left.

And with that, you should be able to find your lost AirPods. If you didn't see the green dot in step 4 and saw a gray one instead, there's a problem.

NOTE: If your AirPods are in two different places when you try to find them, you'll only see one at a time. Find one and put it in the AirPods case, then reload Find My AirPods to locate the other.

Why Your AirPods Won't Show Up

If your AirPods have a gray dot next to them, that means Find My AirPods can't find their current location. Instead, it's showing their last known location. There are a number of reasons that your AirPods might not be findable, including:

  • No Find My iPhone—Just like with an iPhone, if you didn't set up Find My iPhone/AirPods before losing the earbuds, you won't be able to use it to find them
  • Out of Battery—If your AirPods are totally out of battery, they won't be found until they're recharged
  • Out of Range—AirPods don't have GPS chips in them like the iPhone does, so they rely on being connected to an iPhone or iPad to be found. If they're out of range of your iOS device—a couple of dozen feet, generally—they won't appear
  • In the Case—AirPods must be out of their case in order to found because they're not active or connected to an iPhone or iPad when they're in the case.