We test and evaluate headphones using a standardized 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more. To pair your AirPods earbuds, first initiate the pairing process. Hold the button on the back of the case… find details below. We’ll guide you through the entire AirPods pairing process for all devices and operating systems. CONTENTS (show more) This is a pairing guide for AirPods earbuds; for the AirPods Max pairing guide, click here. Step 1: How to Activate Pairing Mode on AirPods? With AirPods 2, AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Pro 2, you have to hold the button on the back of the charging case for 5 seconds. Activating pairing mode on AirPods Here are the instructions on how to initiate pairing mode on Apple AirPods 3: Place the earbuds into the charging case. Find the physical button on the back of the case (under the lid’s hinge). Press and hold it for around 5 seconds. Observe a tiny LED in front of the case. Earbuds are in pairing mode when the LED starts to slowly blink white. Now you know how to activate the pairing mode. See how to pair the Apple AirPods earbuds to various devices and operating systems: iOS macOS Windows (PC) Apple Watch Android TV How to Connect AirPods Earbuds to an iPhone & iPad (iOS) Thanks to having an A1 chip (AirPods Pro 2 have an A2 chip), connecting AirPods to an iOS device is easy. Here’s what you need to do to pair and connect your AirPods to any device using iOS: First, enable Bluetooth on your iOS device. Activate the pairing mode in your Apple AirPods using the detailed guide above. After a few seconds, a pop-up message should appear on the screen of your iOS device. This is the pairing process with brand-new AirPods: Conversely, this is the pairing process with previously already paired Apple AirPods: Tap “Connect” and follow the on-screen instructions. Brand new AirPods will connect instantaneously, whereas previously paired ones require holding the back button. AirPods are now connected to your iOS device (and paired to your Apple account). Step 2: How to Connect AirPods to a Mac, MacBook (macOS) Connecting AirPods to MacOS can work in 2 ways. You can either take advantage of seamless connectivity using Apple ID or pair your AirPods the normal way. The first method involves connecting new AirPods to a Mac or MacBook: In your Home screen, find the Apple menu in the upper left corner and click on it. Select “System Preferences…“. Source: AppleInsider Click the “Bluetooth” icon. Source: AppleInsider Click on “Turn Bluetooth On“. Activate the pairing mode in your Apple AirPods earbuds using the detailed guide above. When it finds your AirPods, click the “Connect” button next to them (they might be presented as a MAC address, as seen in the image below, but you know they’re headphones because of the headphone icon on the left). They’re connected when you see the “Connected” written under their name. Source: AppleInsider In the second method, you’re connecting AirPods that are already paired to another one of your Apple devices, which use the same Apple ID account: Pick your AirPods from the charging case and place them in your ears. Find and click on the “Handoff” feature in the upper right corner of the screen (a “toggle on/off” icon, also known as “Control Center”). In the “Sound” section, click the “arrow” pointing to the right. Source: AppleInsider Under “Output“, find the name of your AirPods and click on it. Your AirPods should be now set as an output device. Source: AppleInsider Step 2: How to Connect AirPods to a Windows Laptop & PC While the pairing process on Windows 10 and Windows 11 is almost identical, we’ll cover them both. But before we start, ensure that your Windows device actually supports Bluetooth. Windows laptops almost certainly have a Bluetooth module built-in. Desktop Windows computers most likely don’t have a Bluetooth module, so you need to buy a Bluetooth dongle. Windows 11 Left-click on the speaker icon (Wi-Fi, speaker, and battery are grouped together) in the bottom left corner to access “Quick settings“. Click the Bluetooth symbol to turn it ON. Next, right-click the Bluetooth icon and select “Go to settings“. In “Bluetooth & devices”, find and click on “Add device“. Select the first “Bluetooth” option. Activate the pairing mode in your Apple AirPods using the detailed guide above. It can take 10 to 30 seconds for Windows to find your AirPods. When you see their name, click on them. They’re “ready to go” when they have “Connected mic, audio” written below their name. Windows 10 Left-click on the “Notifications” icon in the bottom right corner to access “Quick settings“. Left-click on the Bluetooth symbol to enable it. Right-click the Bluetooth symbol and select “Go to settings“. In the “Bluetooth & other devices” window, click the “Add Bluetooth or other device“. In a new “Add a device” window, select the first “Bluetooth” option. Activate pairing mode in your Apple AirPods by following the instructions above. Your AirPods should eventually appear in the “Add a device” list. Click on them when they do (it may take between 10 to 30 seconds). Your AirPods are connected when you see “Connected voice, music” written under the name. Click “Done“. Step 2: How to Connect AirPods to Apple Watch (watchOS) Similar to MacOS and iOS, you also have 2 methods of connecting your AirPods to an Apple Watch. The first method shows how to connect brand-new AirPods to Apple Watch: Press the digital crown to see all the apps. Find the “Settings” app (gear-looking icon) and tap on it. Source: SmartWatchCrunch Find Bluetooth and enable it. Source: SmartWatchCrunch Activate the pairing mode in your AirPods earbuds using the detailed guide above. After a while, your AirPods should appear inside the “Devices” list. Tap on them. Source: SmartWatchCrunch Your AirPods are now connected to your Apple Watch. With the second method, you’re connecting AirPods that are already connected to another one of your Apple devices using the same Apple ID account: Open your music app or swipe from the bottom to access “Quick settings“. Find the “AirPlay” icon (3 circular lines with a dot in the middle). Tap on it. Source: iOS Hacker You should see your AirPods among the devices inside the AirPlay feature. Tap on them to switch audio. Step 2: How to Connect AirPods to Android (Phone, Tablet) As a non-Apple device, Android sadly doesn’t support Apple’s fast pairing feature. Fortunately, while it takes a few more steps, connecting AirPods to Android devices is very simple. Swipe from the top to access “notifications and “Quick settings“. Tap on the “Bluetooth” symbol to enable it. A new Bluetooth pairing interface should automatically appear. If you close it, simply swipe from the top and hold the Bluetooth symbol to access Bluetooth settings. Scroll down to see new “Available devices”. Activate the pairing mode of your Apple AirPods by following the detailed guide above. Your AirPods should soon appear in the “Available devices” below. Tap on them when they do. Tap “Scan” if your Android device has already stopped searching. Select “Pair” when you see the “Bluetooth pairing request” popping up on the screen. Your AirPods are connected when you see an audio volume bar on the right side of the screen. Step 2: How to Connect AirPods to TV TV manufacturers use a bunch of operating systems with different Bluetooth pairing options. For this demonstration, we’ll show you how to pair your AirPods to 3 most popular smart TV operating systems: Tizen OS (Samsung) Android TV (Sony, Panasonic, Philips, Sharp, TCL, Hisense, etc.) webOS (LG) How to pair AirPods to Tizen OS (Samsung TV) Here are the instructions on how to pair AirPods to a Samsung TV: Press the “house” symbol on the remote controller to open the Tizen OS interface. Go into “Settings“. Go to the “Sound” and select “Sound Output“. In the “Sound Output”, select the “Speaker List” (with the Bluetooth symbol). Activate the pairing mode of your Apple AirPods by following the detailed guide above. Your AirPods should appear in the “Speaker List“. Select them and click “Pair and connect“. A message should inform you that your AirPods are connected. Press “OK“. How to pair AirPods to Android TV If you’re using a smart TV with Android, here’s how you connect your AirPods to it: In the Android TV interface, find and click on “Settings” (in the upper right corner of the screen). Source: YouTube/MJ Tube In Settings, go down to “Remote & accessories” where you select “Add accessory” (option with a Bluetooth logo on the left side). Source: YouTube/MJ Tube Activate the pairing mode in your AirPods earbuds by following the instructions above. Your AirPods should soon appear in the upper right corner of the screen. Click on them. Source: YouTube/MJ Tube When it says “Paired” under your AirPods, you know they’re connected. A volume bar also pops up from the right side of the screen. Source: YouTube/MJ Tube If your Android TV fails to find your AirPods, download the “Bluetooth Pair” app from TV’s Google Store. It bypasses the TV’s buggy Bluetooth and finds and pairs with your earbuds. How to pair AirPods to webOS (LG) And this is how you connect your AirPods to a LG smart TV: On your remote controller, press the “Settings” button (or activate voice control and say “sound out” in your remote’s microphone) and enter “Sound.” In Sound, select “Sound Out“. Source: The Tech Giant Next, click on “Use Wireless Speaker“. Source: The Tech Giant On the right side of the “Bluetooth Device“, click on the 3 vertical dots. Source: The Tech Giant While TV searches for Bluetooth devices, activate the pairing mode in your Apple AirPods by following the instructions above. When you see your AirPods’ name under “Connectable Devices“, click on them. Source: The Tech Giant – The process is the same for all Apple headphones At the bottom of the screen, you should receive a message that your AirPods are connected. Source: The Tech Giant How to Verify AirPods are in Pairing Mode Your Apple AirPods are in pairing mode when a small LED status light flashes white. The LED is located in front of the charging case. As with most Bluetooth earbuds, Apple AirPods don’t give any auditory feedback when entering the pairing mode. Interestingly, AirPods also don’t go into pairing mode automatically after failing to connect. Most other earbuds go into pairing mode after just a few seconds of being taken out of the charging case. Connect AirPods After Pairing Thanks to Apple’s seamless automatic switching, your AirPods should automatically jump between all Apple devices that you have in your ecosystem (iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Mac). All need to be logged into the same Apple account. However, sometimes, earbuds fail to automatically switch between Apple devices. If that happens, here’s what you need to do: For MacOS, follow the instructions written above. For iOS, swipe from the upper-right corner and long-press on your audio player widget. Tap on the “AirPlay” icon and select your AirPods. It should switch to them after a few seconds. In case you don’t find AirPods in the AirPlay menu, try this: Go into the “Bluetooth” settings and turn the feature ON. Click on your AirPods inside the “My devices” list (if you don’t see them there, then they aren’t paired yet). AirPods will now reconnect. Turn OFF Bluetooth in other Bluetooth devices to prevent your AirPods from connecting to any other device while trying to reconnect. If AirPods Don’t Pair: How to Troubleshoot Digital gadgets, such as Apple AirPods, aren’t immune to glitches and errors that affect their operation. Sometimes, these glitches directly affect their ability to pair. It’s best to first pinpoint the origin of the problem: If multiple devices refuse to pair to your AirPods, there’s something wrong with AirPods. If only one device refuses to pair to your AirPods, there’s something wrong with that device, not your AirPods. Here are some solutions that might fix your pairing issues: Turn Bluetooth OFF & ON again Bluetooth can sometimes boot with an unexpected error, making it inoperable. In iOS, swipe from the upper right corner. Turn OFF the Bluetooth. Turn it back ON after a few seconds. Operating system issues Sometimes, an error in code is causing issues, preventing features like Bluetooth or some parts of the connection protocol from working properly. Reset your device, which resolves a temporary glitch (reset AirPods and the device you’re pairing them to). Check for any new updates that resolve a continuing glitch (check for updates on your device and if your AirPods have the latest version of firmware). Low battery Low battery, especially in the charging case, can be a potential reason that prevents your AirPods from going into pairing mode. Place the AirPods into the charging case and click the button on the back: Green = high battery charge Amber = low battery charge Dirty charging pins A speck of dirt could prevent your AirPods from fully sitting on charging pins in the charging case. Inspect the earbuds and the pins in the charging case. If necessary, use a toothpick to remove any dirt that’s stuck on connectors. If the dirt or earwax has dried, lightly dampen it with rubbing alcohol to soak it. Use the alcohol with the highest ethanol percentages (90% or higher is the best). How to Reset AirPods Earbuds Now, this is how you reset earbuds (aka. AirPods 3 or Pro): Place both AirPods in the charging case and leave the lid open. Hold the setup button on the back of the charging case for 15 seconds. The small LED in front of the case should go from white to amber. Once the amber color turns back into white, you can release the button in the back. Your AirPods earbuds are now reset. AirPods malfunction If your issues persist even after countless efforts to fix your AirPods, there might be something deeper wrong with them. It’s best to contact Apple support for any further instructions. You might take a look on internet forums if others have the same problems as you. However, perform any of their solutions at your own risk. FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions How do I force AirPods into pairing mode? You force AirPods into pairing mode by placing them into the charging case and holding the button in the back for a few seconds or until the LED in front of the case starts blinking. See more detailed instructions here. Why are my AirPods not pairing? Your AirPods aren’t pairing because they either aren’t in pairing mode (hold the case button), have a software glitch (reset them), are low on battery (charge them), or fail to make contact with the charging pins (clean the case). How do I pair my replacement AirPods? To pair replacement AirPods, put AirPods into the case (which is charging), close the lid, and wait 20 minutes. Then, open the lid and reset your AirPods (hold the case button for 15 seconds). Lastly, open the case and wait for a pop-up message on your iOS device. How do I sync my AirPods together? To sync your AirPods together with other AirPods (or Beats), first connect one AirPods to an iOS device. In Control Center, tap “AirPlay” and select “Share Audio“. Now, turn ON another AirPods. When they appear in the list on the screen, tap on them. Can I pair dead AirPods? You can’t pair dead AirPods or if they’re out of battery charge. In contrast, you can connect to your AirPods with an empty charging case, but only if you’ve previously paired them with your iOS device. Conclusion We hope our steps helped you pair your Apple AirPods to your audio playback device and that you haven’t experienced any pairing problems along the way. If you’re also experiencing some other technical problems with your AirPods, see the solutions here: Your AirPods don’t play sound Your AirPods are very quiet Your AirPods refuse to charge Or leave a comment below. Peter SusicFrom a childhood fascination with sound, Peter’s passion has evolved into a relentless pursuit of the finest headphones. He’s an audio expert with over 5 years of experience in testing both audiophile and consumer-grade headphones. Quote: “After many years, I can confidently tell which headphones are good and which are terrible.” Find his honest opinion in his reviews.