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How to use AirPods and pair them with almost any phone or device

apple airpods

  • Apple AirPods pair automatically with your iPhone (and other iOS devices) when you open a new AirPods case near your iPhone that’s turned on and open to the Home screen.
  • AirPods have no power button or controls. They detect when they’re inserted and removed from your ears. To skip tracks, use Siri voice commands in the original AirPods, or double tap second generation AirPods.
  • Open your AirPods case near an iPhone to see how much battery life remains.

Inside every iPhone box, you’ll find a simple pair of wired earbuds. It’s convenient that Apple includes them with every new phone, but they’re unremarkable — inexpensive earbuds that give you a private way to listen to music as soon as you set up your phone.

In 2016, though, Apple unveiled AirPods — high-quality, completely wireless Bluetooth earbuds that have come to redefine what people expect from this kind of audio accessory.

If you upgrade to AirPods (they need to be purchased as an accessory), the good news is that they are easy to set up and use.

How to pair AirPods to your iPhone

1. Turn on your iPhone and go to the Home screen.

2. Position your new AirPods very close to the phone and then open the case.

3. You’ll see a setup message appear on the iPhone. Tap “Connect,” and then tap “Done.”

Airpods in case pairing with iPhone

Your AirPods are now paired with your phone and ready to use. In fact, your AirPods are automatically connected to any other devices in your iCloud account, including your Mac, iPad, and Apple Watch.

How to pair AirPods to another iPhone

If you’re looking to pair your AirPods with an iPhone that isn’t the original phone you’ve paired them with, you’ll have to go one step further.

1. Open your AirPods case near the new iPhone.

2. Tap “Connect.”

3. Press and hold the small “pairing” button on the back of the case for several seconds, until it starts blinking white.

Airpods Case

How to pair AirPods with non-Apple devices

Despite being marketed as Apple-exclusive, and including special features that only work on iOS devices, AirPods are also ordinary Bluetooth earbuds. This means you can manually pair them with any Bluetooth-compatible device, like an Android phone or Windows computer, should you so choose.

You simply need to put your AirPods in “Pairing” mode.

1. Make sure your AirPods are in the case.

2. Open the lid.

3. Press and hold the “pairing” button on the back of the case (pictured above) for several seconds, until it starts blinking white.

4. Start the pairing process on the other device in the way you would ordinarily connect to any Bluetooth device.

How to use your AirPods

Because of the way the AirPods are designed, each one can only go in the proper ear. If you need help figuring out which one is which, there’s a small “L” and “R” printed on the stem of each earbud.

One of the best things about AirPods is that there’s no power switch on the AirPods. You never need to turn them on or off – you can insert them in your ear and start listening to music or place a phone call right away.  

That said, the way you interact with your AirPods depends on which model you own:

  • If you have first-generation AirPods, double-tap either earbud to wake Siri. If you want to control music playback, Siri can do this for you. You can ask Siri to “lower volume by X percent,” for example, “go back to the previous song,” or to “skip song.”
  • If you have second-generation AirPods, double-tap either earbud to skip to the next track. To wake Siri, just say “Hey Siri.” You can also re-configure your AirPods so that the double-taps perform other functions.  
  • For all AirPods, you can accept and end phone calls by double-tapping an earbud.

How to configure the way your AirPods work

You can change the way you interact with your AirPods. You can change the name of your AirPods, and if you have second-generation AirPods, you can specify what happens when you double-tap them.

1. Make sure that your AirPods are connected to the iPhone – either wear the AirPods or open the case near the phone.

2. Open the Settings app and then tap “Bluetooth.”

3. Find the entry for the AirPods and then tap the “i” on the right side of the screen. You should see a screen full of options.

Airpods settings on iPhone

4. If you want to rename your AirPods, tap “Name” and change it to anything you like.

5. You can change what happens when you double-tap an earbud. By default, you can double-tap either earbud to skip to the next track, but you can tap “Left” and “Right” to choose other available actions for each ear.

6. By default, your AirPods automatically play and pause when you insert and remove them from your ears – take an earbud out, and the music stops without tapping a pause button. You can disable this by sliding the switch to Automatic Ear Detection to the left.

7. The microphone is designed to automatically switch to whichever earbud is best in any given situation. Tap “Microphone” to change this behavior by forcing it to always use either the left or right earbud.

How to check how much battery is left on your AirPods

Want to know how much battery life you have left in your AirPods? The easiest way to find out is to turn on your iPhone, bring the AirPods (stored in their case) close to the phone, and open the lid.

You’ll see a display that shows how much charge is left in both the earbuds and the case itself. Remove an earbud from the case, and you’ll then see specifically how much charge is left in each of the earbuds.

AirPods Battery Apple iPhone Widget

Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech:

  • How to pair AirPods with an Android phone

  • How to reset your AirPods and save yourself a trip to the Genius bar

  • How to locate your lost AirPods using Find My iPhone

  • How to silence your Apple Watch in four different ways

SEE ALSO: The best wireless headphones you can buy

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