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How to Pair AirPods Max to iPhone, Laptop, Android, …

Last updated: 6 months ago
8 min read

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To pair your AirPods Max, you first have to initiate the pairing process. You do that by holding the “ANC mode” and digital crown buttons.

See step-by-step instructions for all devices and operating systems below.

AirPods Max and iPad pairing
CONTENTS (show more)

    Step 1: How to Activate Pairing Mode on AirPods Max?

    You activate the pairing mode on Apple headphones or earbuds differently.

    Activating pairing mode on AirPods Max

    Here are the instructions on how to initiate pairing mode on Apple AirPods Max:

    1. On top of the right ear cup, find the “Noise Control” button and a digital rotating crown. Simultaneously press and hold both buttons for around 5 seconds.
    Apple AirPods Max press buttons
    1. Observe a small LED at the bottom of the right ear cup (near the Lightning charging port). AirPods Max are in pairing mode when the status light flashes white.
    Apple AirPods Max LED
    The tiny LED needs to slowly flash white.

    Now that you’ve activated the pairing mode, jump to the steps on how to pair the Apple AirPods Max to various devices and operating systems:

    How to Connect AirPods Max to an iPhone & iPad (iOS)

    Here are detailed instructions on how to pair and connect your AirPods Max to any device that uses iOS.

    1. Before initiating pairing mode, enable Bluetooth on your iOS device.
    2. Now, you can activate pairing mode in your Apple AirPods Max. See the instructions above.
    3. Looking at the screen of your iOS device, you should see a pop-up message.

    When pairing brand-new AirPods Max, you should see this message:

    Apple AirPods 3 pairing process

    In contrast, when pairing AirPods that were already paired to another device, here’s what you’ll see:

    iOS pairing older AirPods
    1. Click on “Connect” and follow instructions. Typically, AirPods instantly connect to your iOS device. In our case, we need to hold the “pairing mode” button(s) one more time.
    2. AirPods should now connect to your iOS device (and Apple account).

    Step 2: How to Connect AirPods Max to a Mac, MacBook (macOS)

    Apple AirPods Max are all about seamless connectivity between all devices using the same Apple ID account. That means there are 2 ways to pair your AirPods to a macOS.

    First method: Connecting brand new AirPods to a Mac or MacBook:

    1. On your home screen, find the Apple menu in the upper left corner and click on it. Select “System Preferences“.
    Mac system preferences
    Source: AppleInsider
    1. Click on the “Bluetooth” icon.
    Mac find Bluetooth
    Source: AppleInsider
    1. Before turning the Bluetooth ON, activate pairing mode in your Apple AirPods Max using the instructions above.
    2. Now, turn the Bluetooth ON and wait for Mac or MacBook to find your AirPods.
    3. When it finds them, click the “Connect” button next to your AirPods’ name. You should see the “Connected” written under the name of your AirPods.
    Mac finding AirPods
    Source: AppleInsider

    Second method: Connecting AirPods to a Mac or MacBook that were previously connected to another of your Apple devices (signed into the same Apple account as your Mac or MacBook):

    1. Turn on your AirPods Max and place them on your head.
    2. In the upper right corner of the screen, find the “Handoff” feature (a “toggle on/off” icon, also known as “Control Center”) and click on it.
    3. In the “Sound” widget, click on the arrow on the right side.
    Mac find Handoff
    Source: AppleInsider
    1. Under “Output“, you should see the name of your AirPods. Click on it to instantly connect to them.
    Mac set AirPods output
    Source: AppleInsider

    Step 2: How to Connect AirPods Max to a Windows Laptop & PC

    Pairing Bluetooth gadgets to Windows uses slightly different steps depending on whether you use Windows 10 or Windows 11. So, we’ll do both.

    Naturally, check that your PC supports Bluetooth. Laptops should have one built-in, whereas desktop computers need a Bluetooth dongle.

    Windows 11

    1. In the bottom right corner, make a left-click on the speaker icon (Wi-Fi, speaker, and battery icons are grouped together).
    2. In the new “quick settings” window, click the Bluetooth icon to turn it ON.
    3. Then, right-click the Bluetooth icon and select “Go to settings“.
    Windows open bluetooth settings
    1. On the right side, click the big “+” sign saying, “Add device“.
    2. Pick the first “Bluetooth” option. In a new window, you should see all Bluetooth devices that want to pair.
    Windows 11 choosing what to search
    1. Now, activate the pairing mode in your Apple AirPods Max using the instructions above.
    2. Your AirPods should appear in the Bluetooth searching window. Sometimes, it takes a little longer, like 10-20 seconds, before Windows finds your Bluetooth headphones.
    3. When they appear in the window, click on them.
    Windows 11 finding AirPods
    1. They’re ready to use when it says “Connected mic, audio” next to them.
    Windows 11 AirPods connected

    Windows 10

    1. In the bottom right, left-click on “Notifications“.
    2. Left-click on the Bluetooth icon to turn it ON.
    Windows 10 open notifications
    1. Right-click on the Bluetooth icon and select “Go to settings“.
    Windows 10 go to settings
    1. Inside “Bluetooth & other devices” settings, click the “+” where it says, “Add Bluetooth or other device“.
    Windows 10 add Bluetooth device
    1. In a new window, select the first “Bluetooth” option. Windows will start searching for Bluetooth devices. It might take more than 10-20 seconds, so be patient.
    Windows 10 Bluetooth add new device
    1. Now, activate pairing mode in your Apple AirPods Max by following the instructions above.
    2. Your AirPods eventually appear in the “Add a device” list. Click on them.
    3. Your AirPods have successfully connected when you see “Your device is ready to go!” written on top of the window. Click “Done“.
    Windows 10 AirPods connected

    Step 2: How to Connect AirPods to Apple Watch

    Similar to the macOS and iOS, watchOS also provides Apple’s seamless connectivity with AirPods Max. Of course, there are still 2 ways to pair your AirPods to your Watch.

    First method: Connecting brand new AirPods Max to Apple Watch:

    1. Open your Apple Watch and press the digital crown to see all the apps.
    2. Find the “Settings” (gear logo) and tap on it.
    Apple Watch find settings
    Source: SmartWatchCrunch
    1. Scroll down to find Bluetooth and turn it on.
    Source: SmartWatchCrunch
    1. Activate the pairing mode in your AirPods headphones using the instructions above.
    2. The name of your AirPods should appear inside the “Devices” list. Tap on them.
    Apple Watch devices
    Source: SmartWatchCrunch
    1. After a few seconds, your AirPods should connect to your Apple Watch.

    Second method: Connecting AirPods Max that have been already paired to another Apple device using the same Apple account:

    1. Open your music app on the Apple Watch and find the “AirPlay” icon (3 circular lines with a dot in the middle, not the Wi-Fi icon). Tap on it.
    Watch music player AirDrop
    Source: iOS Hacker
    1. Alternatively, when in your watch face, swipe from the bottom to access quick settings. Scroll all the way down to find the “AirPlay” icon.
    2. If your Apple Watch is connected to the internet, you should see your AirPods in the AirDrop list. Tap on it to select it as your audio source.

    Step 2: How to Connect AirPods Max to Android (Phone, Tablet)

    Apple’s pop-up messages don’t work on a non-Apple device, as the Android operating system uses a different technology called Google Fast Pair).

    Fortunately, connecting AirPods Max to Android devices is very simple.

    1. First, swipe from the top of the screen to access quick settings (where you can quickly enable Wi-Fi, Location, Mobile data, etc.).
    2. Tap on the “Bluetooth” icon to turn it ON.
    Android enable Bluetooth
    1. A new (quick) Bluetooth menu should automatically open, revealing other Bluetooth devices you previously connected to your Android device. Scroll to the bottom.
    2. If you accidentally close the quick Bluetooth menu, simply reaccess quick settings and hold the Bluetooth icon to open “Bluetooth settings“. Scroll all the way down.
    3. Now, activate the pairing mode of your Apple AirPods Max by following the instructions above.
    4. Your AirPods should appear at the bottom of Bluetooth settings. Tap on “Scan” if your Android device stops searching.
    Android finding AirPods
    1. Once you see the name of your AirPods, tap on them.
    2. When a “Bluetooth pairing request” pops on the screen, press “Pair“.
    Android confirm pairing AirPods
    1. When you see an audio volume bar on the screen, your AirPods have successfully connected to your Android device.
    Android volume bar

    Step 2: How to Connect AirPods Max to TV

    The steps might be slightly different depending on the TV’s manufacturer. For this demonstration, we’ll use a Samsung smart TV. 

    Here’s how you pair AirPods Max to your TV (Samsung TV using Tizen OS):

    1. Using the remote controller, click on the “house” icon to open the Tizen OS interface. Click on “Settings“.
    Samsung TV settings
    1. Click on the “Sound” and select “Sound Output” device.
    Samsung TV sound
    1. In the “audio device” list, you should see “Speaker List” with a Bluetooth icon next to it. Click on it.
    Samsung TV speaker list
    1. In the new “Speaker List” window, TV is now searching for your AirPods. Follow the instructions on how to activate pairing mode in AirPods Max.
    2. The name of your AirPods should appear in the list.
    Samsung TV AirPods found
    1. Click on them and confirm the “Pair and connect“.
    Samsung TV pair connect
    1. A new pop-up message should inform you that your AirPods are connected. Press “Enter” on your remote.
    Samsung TV AirPods connected

    How to Verify AirPods Max are in Pairing Mode

    To verify your Apple AirPods Max are in pairing mode, you must see a small white LED light blinking.

    • The LED is located at the bottom of the right ear cup.

    Unlike most other Bluetooth headphones, Apple AirPods don’t emit any sound when you activate pairing mode.

    Furthermore, unlike most headphones, they don’t automatically go into pairing mode after they haven’t been connected to any device in the last few seconds.

    Connect AirPods Max After Pairing

    When using your AirPods Max on at least two Apple devices logged into the same Apple account, the audio source automatically switches depending on the device you’re using.

    The issue arises when your AirPods aren’t connected to an Apple device. In that case, you must (sometimes) reconnect them manually.

    For example, AirPods first connect to an Android smatphone and later to a PC laptop. However, when you enable Bluetooth on your Android, AirPods don’t automatically connect to it.

    In that case:

    1. Enable Bluetooth and go into “Bluetooth” settings.
    2. Find your AirPods inside the “My devices” list. Click on it.
    3. AirPods Max should now reconnect.
    iOS AirPods Bluetooth devices

    Of course, ensure your AirPods Max aren’t connected to any other device. Otherwise, this manual approach might give an error.

    If AirPods Max Don’t Pair: How to Troubleshoot

    Apple AirPods Max aren’t immune to problems, and the inability to pair is one of them. Here are some of the reasons that might affect pairing:

    Operating system issues

    Sometimes, you might have a faulty code that is causing issues. The only way to fix that is by:

    • Resetting your device (resolves a temporary glitch).
    • Checking if you have any new updates available (resolving a continuing glitch).

    Low battery

    When in pairing mode, your AirPods have to “scream” for others to find them, which uses slightly more energy. Your AirPods may not want to initiate pairing mode because they’re low on juice.

    Hold the “Noise Control” button on AirPods Max:

    • Green light means high battery charge.
    • Amber means low battery charge.

    Turn Bluetooth OFF & ON again

    Just like with a faulty code above, Bluetooth can sometimes glitch out.

    1. Swipe from the upper right corner.
    2. Turn the Bluetooth OFF.
    3. Wait a few seconds before turning it back ON.
    iOS enable disable Bluetooth

    If your AirPods don’t want to pair or even go into pairing mode, you should reset them. Resetting also works with sound and charging issues.

    How to Reset AirPods Max

    This is how you reset Apple headphones, aka. Apple AirPods Max:

    1. Hold the “Noise Control” and digital crown buttons for 15 seconds.
    Apple AirPods Max press buttons
    1. You should see the small LED on the bottom of the right ear cup (near the charging port) flashing from white to amber.
    2. Once the amber color turns back to white, you can release the buttons. Your AirPods Max are now reset.
    Apple AirPods Max LED

    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    Can you pair AirPods Max to PC?

    Yes, you can pair AirPods Max to a PC. Press and hold the “Noise Control” button and a digital crown until you see a small LED near the charging port flashing white. Now, your AirPods should appear in Bluetooth settings on your PC. See more detailed instructions here.

    Can AirPod Max connect to any device?

    Yes, AirPods Max can connect to any device that supports Bluetooth (smartphones, TVs, laptops, tablets, smartwatches (some models), in-flight entertainment (on some airplanes), etc.).

    How do I reset my AirPod Max?

    You reset your AirPod Max by holding the “Noise Control” and digital crown buttons for 15 seconds or until a small LED near the charging port changes from amber to white.

    How do I reset my AirPod Max on my iPhone?

    You can’t reset your AirPod Max via iPhone. You have to do it manually. The only thing you can do is to “forget” them on your iPhone and re-pair them to it (if you’re experiencing sound or connection issues).

    Can I use AirPods Max with my TV?

    You can use AirPods Max with your TV if it supports Bluetooth (most smart TVs do). Find your TV’s “Sound source” settings and connect your AirPods Max.


    Hopefully, our steps helped you pair your Apple AirPods Max to your audio playback device, and you’re already enjoying your favorite tunes.

    In case you have any other technical problems, you can find all solutions right here:

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