AirPods were introduced to much fanfare back in 2016, and years later, that hype is yet to slow down. In fact, Apple recently revealed second-gen AirPods that look the same while offering new functionality including Hey Siri support and wireless charging. But while Apple’s AirPods are hugely popular, the simplicity of the earbuds can work against them – especially when it comes to performing more advanced tasks like a factory reset.
But fear not; after years of using AirPods, we know how to do just about anything and everything, and here’s where we break it all down for you.
How to set up AirPods
As with most Apple products, the AirPods are incredibly easy to set up. The easiest way to set them up is to use an iPhone or iPad; simply open the AirPod charging case near your iPhone (when it’s unlocked) and follow the on-screen prompts to link your AirPods to your device and all other devices linked to your Apple ID. It’s a simple process that takes only seconds to complete.
From that point, you're free to listen to music wirelessly and chat to friends without getting tangled up in wires.
How to use Siri on AirPods
One of the perks of AirPods is easy accessibility to Siri, though the process differs slightly between the first- and second-generation earbuds. If you've got an original set of AirPods, you can access Siri with a double tap of either the left or right AirPod.
While that's easy enough to do, it's even easier to activate Siri on the AirPods released in March 2019. If you want to access Apple's virtual assistant, you need only say "Hey Siri" to activate it - just as you would on your iPhone.
It's worth noting that you can customise the tap shortcuts on both generations of AirPod by connecting them to your iPhone and tapping the 'i' next to the AirPods in the Bluetooth section of the Settings menu. From here, you can set the AirPods to skip tracks, pause music or activate Siri on a per-bud basis.
How to connect AirPods to other devices
While your AirPods should automatically connect to any iPad, iPhone or Mac logged in to your Apple ID, it doesn’t work flawlessly. The good news is that there’s an easy way to manually connect your AirPods to MacBooks, iMacs and even non-Apple products like Androids.
To put your AirPods into pairing mode, simply make sure that both AirPods are in the case with the lid open, and hold the button on the rear until the LED indicator strobes white. At this point, the AirPods should be discoverable on your Bluetooth-enabled device.
For more detailed instructions, we’ve created a specific tutorial on connecting AirPods to a MacBook while our colleagues over at Tech Advisor have provided step-by-step instructions on connecting AirPods to Android devices.
It’s worth noting that AirPods aren’t universally compatible; we’ve done some research into AirPod compatibility, which suggests you might not be able to use AirPods with some of your favourite devices.
How to find lost AirPods
Being wireless, it’s pretty easy to misplace one (or both!) of your AirPods when out of the case. Initially, AirPod owners were forced to lift up cushion covers, check under tables and generally search high and low for lost AirPods, but an update to the Find my iPhone app means that is no longer the case.
As long as your AirPods are in-range and have battery power, you can use the Find my iPhone app to see the last rough location of your AirPods and even trigger a tone that makes them easier to locate.
We’ve got detailed step-by-step instructions on how to use Find my AirPods right here for those that want to find out more.
How to improve AirPod battery life
With a five-hour battery life and an extra 24 hours of charge in the case, you could say that there’s no real need to further enhance the AirPods battery life. While it might not be something you consider initially, like most other products, AirPods begin to lose their charge over time and eventually, they’ll struggle to hit the quoted five-hour battery life.
When that does happen, there are fixes available that’ll enhance your battery life. These tips include avoid fiddling with the case, listening to one AirPod at a time, disabling various smart features and more. For an in-depth list of ways to improve battery life, take a look at our tutorial on improving AirPods battery life.
How to clean AirPods
Your AirPods may start off looking pristine, but we can almost guarantee that won’t be the case after months of use. Whether it’s pocket-lint, earwax or general dirt and grime, the AirPods and charging case can get fairly dirty over time. Without any kind of water resistance, how are you supposed to clean your AirPods?
We recommend using a soft, lint-free cloth to remove any dirt from the AirPods and charging case, though a soft-head brush may be required to reach more fiddly areas. For more detailed information on the do’s and don’ts, take a look at how to clean AirPods.
How to fix AirPods disconnecting
While there’s no one-size-fits-all fix when it comes to the issue of AirPods disconnecting from your iPhone or iPad, there are a range of suggestions that we can provide.
These range from making sure that your AirPods and charging case are sufficiently charged to more complex fixes like making sure your iOS devices output is set to AirPods and not your iPhone. While there are too many to go through here, we’ve put together a complete list of things to try to fix disconnecting AirPods.
How to reset AirPods
If you do find your AirPods are performing sub-optimally and there’s no clear reason as to why, you could try resetting your AirPods. Yes, the old “have you tried turning it off and on again” trick sung in unison by IT support technicians the world over can have a positive effect on AirPod performance. But, with only a single button on the earphones, how does one achieve this?
You should first forget your AirPods in the Bluetooth menu of your phone, before placing the buds back into the wireless charging case for 15-30 seconds. Once time has passed, open the lid once again and hold the button on the rear of the charging case until the light flashes amber and then white. And there you have it! Your AirPods are now reset and ready to be reconnected to your Apple ID.
For more detailed instructions, check out how to reset AirPods.
How to play audio to two sets of AirPods
A feature called Audio Sharing was added in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13. This lets you output audio to more than one set of AirPods - or indeed to Apple Beats headphones, provided they have an H1 or W1 processor chip.
The process is to start playing audio to the first set of headphones, then bring a second pair of AirPods (still in their case) to the device broadcasting the audio, then tap Temporarily Share Audio on the dialogue box that pops up. For Beats headphones, you instead press the power button for a second and then bring them close to the device.
We look at this in more detail in a separate tutorial: How to share audio to two pairs of AirPods.