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AirPods not connecting to your Mac? Here's how to fix it

Don't worry, you won't lose anything meaningful if you have to reset your AirPods.
By
September 8, 2023

AirPods are supposed to integrate seamlessly into the Apple ecosystem. While many people would probably consider the iPhone the heart of that ecosystem, Macs are equally if not more important to a lot of us, especially when you rely on one for work. Here’s how to get AirPods connected to your Mac so you can handle Zoom calls and listen to your workday soundtrack, or just kick back with a game or movie after hours.

QUICK ANSWER

If your AirPods won't connect to your Mac, make sure they're charged, that macOS is fully updated, and that Bluetooth is on. If all of that's good, check that they're selected in Control Center. If you're still getting nothing, it's time to reset your AirPods.

How to fix AirPods that won’t connect to your Mac

Apple Airpods Pro Gen 2 vs. Apple Airpods Pro Gen 1 Hero Image 2
Lily Katz / Android Authority

If you’re connecting to a Mac for the first time, doublecheck that it meets the requirements for AirPods. While 1st gen AirPods will work with macOS 10.12 or later, 2nd gen models require macOS 10.14.4, and 3rd gens demand at least macOS 12. 1st gen Pros need macOS 10.15.1, and 2nd gens can only run on macOS 13 or better. If you’re lucky enough to own the AirPods Max, the entry level is macOS 11.1.

Assuming requirements are in order, follow this checklist for troubleshooting:

  • Update to the latest version of macOS by going to Apple menu > System Settings > General > Software Update. Even if your Mac is already compatible, updates can potentially fix AirPod-related bugs.
  • Make sure your AirPods are charged and (for non-Max models) in their case.
  • Check that Bluetooth is on by going to Apple menu > System Settings > Bluetooth. People sometimes disable Bluetooth to save power but forget to switch it back on.
  • If you’ve previously connected your AirPods, check that they’re selected as the active audio device by opening Control Center in the menu bar. If they’re in your device list but won’t connect, click the X next to them to remove them for the steps below.
  • With case-based AirPods, try closing the lid with the buds inside, waiting 15 seconds, then reopening. Press and hold the setup button on the charging case until the status light flashes white, which should take no more than about 10 seconds. Open the lid and hold the case near your Mac until you get onscreen instructions.
  • With the AirPods Max, reset them by pressing and holding the noise control and digital crown buttons for 15 seconds until the status LED flashes white.