How to Set Up & Use Apple AirPods with Your iPhone & iPad

AirPod features are simple to set up and use

Apple unveiled its wireless earbuds, the AirPods, with a lot of fanfare. And with good reason: these earbuds deliver amazing sound, true wirelessness, feel great in your ears, and support advanced features like Siri and automatic balancing of audio when you take one out but the leave the other in.

If you've got AirPods, you're going to love them. But, with so many features, there's a lot to learn. This article covers basics like setting up your AirPods to more advanced features like changing their settings and even using them with non-Apple devices. 

Requirements

To use Apple AirPods, you need:

  • An iPhone or iPad running iOS 10 or higher
  • An Apple Watch running watchOS 3 or higher
  • A Mac running macOS 10.12 (Sierra) or higher
  • An Apple TV running tvOS 10.2 or higher
  • A device from another manufacturer that supports Bluetooth audio. See step 6 for more information.

If you meet these requirements, continue on learn how to set up and use your Apple AirPods.

01
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How to Set Up Apple AirPods

set up apple airpods

One of the things that make the Apple AirPods so powerful and so effortlessly useful is the custom-made W1 chip inside them. The W1 supports many features of the AirPods, but one of the most convenient is their setup. Apple has designed the AirPods to connect quickly and even more easily than other Bluetooth devices, so this should be simple.

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open Control Center. 
  2. If Bluetooth isn't already active, tap the button—the one in the center of the top row—so that it is lit up and active.
  3. Hold your AirPods case—with the AirPods in them—an inch or two away from the iPhone or iPad and then open the case.
  4. Follow the onscreen instructions. This will likely consist mostly of taping the Connect button. If the AirPods connect, skip to step 3.

Your AirPods will be automatically configured to work with every device that is connected to the same iCloud account that is used on the device you set them up on.

You can use AirPods with your Apple TV, too. For step-by-step instructions, check out How to Use AirPods With Your Apple TV.

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What To Do If Your AirPods Won't Connect

Apple AirPods
image credit: Apple Inc.

If you followed the instructions above and your AirPods did not connect to your device, follow these steps. Try connecting your AirPods after each step and, if they still don't work, move on to the next step.

  1. Confirm that your AirPods are charged. Check step 4 below for more information on the AirPods' battery.
  2. Close the AirPods case. Wait 15 or so seconds and then open the lid again. If the indicator light in the case is blinking white, try connecting again.
  3. Press setup button. If the indicator light isn't white, press the setup button on the back bottom of the AirPods case until the light turns white.
  4. Press and hold setup button again. This time press and hold the setup button for a minimum of 15 seconds, until the light flashes amber a few times, and then flashes white.
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Using Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods
image credit: Apple Inc.

Here's how to use some of the most common, but not immediately obvious, features of the AirPods.

  • Activate Siri—To activate Siri, double tap either AirPod and, once Siri is active, speak your command the way you normally would.
  • Answer or End a Call—Double tap either AirPod.
  • Change iPhone and iPad Audio Output to AirPods—If the audio from your iPhone or iPad isn't playing to your AirPods, you can change that. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open Control Center. Swipe left to right to reveal Control Center's second panel, which includes media playback info. Tap the button at the bottom of the panel to reveal the list of output options. Tap AirPods.
  • Use AirPods on a Mac—Pair your AirPods to your iPhone or iPad. Make sure you use the same iCloud account on your Mac as on your iOS device. Turn on Bluetooth on the Mac. Click the speaker icon in the menu bar and select the AirPods.
  • Find a lost AirPod—follow these instructions to locate your Airpod.
04
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How to Charge AirPods Battery and Check Battery Status

apple air pods battery

There are actually two batteries to charge when it comes to the AirPods: the AirPods themselves and the case that holds them. Because the AirPods are pretty small, they can't have big batteries in them. Apple has solved the problem of keeping them charged by putting a bigger battery in the case and using that to recharge the AirPods every time you insert them.

This means that you need to periodically charge the AirPods case by connecting the included Lightning cable to a computer or other power source. 

Some other useful battery tips:

  • Check Charge in AirPod Case—Open the case and a green light indicates a full charge. An orange light means less than a full charge. If the AirPods are in the case, the light indicates the AirPods' charge. If the case is empty, the light represents the case's charge.
  • Check Charge on iPhone or iPad Screen—Unlock your iPhone or iPad, then hold the AirPods case near it and open the case. A window pops up on the screen showing the amount of battery in the AirPods and the case. The AirPods must be in the case for this to work.
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Advanced AirPods Tips & Tricks

Advanced AirPods Tips
image credit: Apple Inc.

There's no app for controlling the AirPods' settings, but that doesn't mean there aren't settings to change. To tweak these settings:

  1. Open the AirPods case​
  2. On your iPhone or iPad, tap Settings
  3. Tap Bluetooth
  4. Tap the i icon next to the AirPods.

On the settings screen, you can make the following changes:

  • Change Double Tap Action—By default, double tapping the AirPods activates Siri (or answers/ends a phone call). In the Double-Tap on AirPods section, you can also make the double tap play/pause audio or do nothing at all.
  • Change Name of AirPods—Tap the name menu and then the X on the next screen. Type in a new name and then tap Done.
  • Change Microphone Side—If you tend to use only one AirPod at a time, you may set that AirPod to always have its microphone enabled. The default setting is for the microphone to switch as needed, but you can tap the Microphone menu, and then Always Left AirPod or Always Right AirPod to match your preference.

If you'd prefer to check out the official AirPods user guide, you can find out where to download it here.

06
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Set Up AirPods with Non-Apple Device

Use AirPods with Android
AirPods image credit Apple Inc; Galaxy S8 image credit Samsung

You can use AirPods with non-Apple devices, too, as long as they support Bluetooth audio. You won't be able to get all of the advanced features of the AirPods on these devices—forget using Siri or the automatic pausing or balancing of audio, for instance—but you will still get some terrific wireless earbuds.

To use AirPods with a non-Apple device, follow these steps:

  1. Put the AirPods in the case if they're not already there
  2. Close and then open the case
  3. Press the set up button on the back of the AirPods case until the status light inside the case flashes white
  4. Open the Bluetooth settings on your device and add the AirPods the way you would any other Bluetooth device.