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How to set up an Apple AirTag and start using it

Now you can keep track of the keys, the dog, and the glasses perched on your head.
November 16, 2022

Although Apple wasn’t the first to pioneer mini-tracking tags, their AirTag is still a great invention. You can attach it to keyrings, put it in bags, monitor your child, and much more. Although AirTags are being used by criminals to track and stalk innocent victims, it is still something you should buy if you own an iPhone. At $30 for one or $95 for four, they’re a great investment. Here’s how to set up an Apple AirTag and start using it.

Read more: How do AirTags work?


To set up an Apple AirTag, remove the protective foil and bring it right next to the iPhone you wish to pair it to. You will see a window pop up on the screen, informing you that the AirTag has been detected. Follow the on-screen notifications to name it, and it will then be found in the Find My app under the Items section.


How to set up an Apple AirTag

It is extremely simple to set up an Apple AirTag. When you take it out of its packaging, you will notice it has a thin protective film around it. That’s not only to protect the surface from scratches. It’s also there to stop it from activating while inside the box. So when you peel off the protective film, you’ll start to hear it beeping, indicating you’ve just woken it up.

new airtag with protective foil

Wait up to 15 seconds for the iPhone to detect the new AirTag. You need to have a reasonable amount of battery and for Low Power Mode to be disabled for them to pair. When they do establish a connection, give it a name and emoji to continue.

The iPhone screen will now tell you that it is “connecting.” Finally, you will get a confirmation screen which means the AirTag is now active and running in the Find My iPhone app.

To ensure everything works as it should, open the Find My iPhone app and go to the Items tab. Your new AirTag should be on the list. Tap it to see the options available.

  • Play Sound — If you know the AirTag is nearby, this will play a beeping sound for you to follow.
  • Find — If you have lost the AirTag, this will let you home in on it, provided you are within range.
  • Notifications — This will tell you when you have left the range of an AirTag you’ve left behind.
  • Lost Mode — If you have lost the AirTag, and can’t find it, you can mark it as lost.
  • Rename Item — As the name says, you can rename the AirTag and change the emoji.
  • Remove Item — Equivalent to a factory reset, this will remove the AirTag from the iPhone.

How to use an Apple AirTag

Let’s now see how to use an Apple AirTag.

Finding a lost AirTag

If you have lost the AirTag, and assuming you are within 30 feet of it, you can activate a homing beacon of sorts by clicking Find in the settings. A green screen with a swiveling arrow will point you in the right direction, with how far away the AirTag is.

Lost Mode

Apple AirTag in backpack
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

If you are out of range of a lost AirTag, you can mark it as lost in the settings. Here, you can leave an email address, phone number, and customized message for anyone who finds it and scans it. A message could contain the promise of a reward, for example.

Lost Mode also stops anyone from taking the AirTag and pairing it with their own phone. You’ll also get a notification when someone has found it.

Read more: The best Apple AirTag alternatives


Yes. Tap the AirTag in the Find My app and toggle Pause Safety Alerts.

Yes, you can only see the AirTag’s location on the Find My map. Plus, AirTags are powered by iPhones connected to the Find My network.

Yes. Press the crown on the right side of the watch and scroll down to Find Items. Select the AirTag you wish to locate, and the same features as on the iPhone will appear on the Apple Watch screen.

Tap the AirTag in Find My and swipe up to see the settings. There is an option there to change the name and emoji of the AirTag.

It takes up to 15 seconds for an iPhone to detect a new AirTag. If you have multiple new AirTags to set up, move the other ones away out of range (30 feet). If you still get nothing, check the iPhone battery level. iPhone batteries below 20% or in Low Power Mode pauses iOS Location Services to conserve battery.

No, an AirTag is designed to only be tracked by one Apple ID at a time. If someone else wants to use the AirTag, you must remove it from the paired Apple ID first.

To factory-reset an AirTag, tap on it in the Find My app. Swipe upwards to reveal the AirTag’s settings and tap Remove Item. It will now beep to indicate it has been unpaired and is ready to be paired again.

No, the AirTag doesn’t have to be charged. They have a lifespan of approximately one year. After this, the battery would need to be replaced if you want to keep using it.

First, press down on the AirTag battery cover, Apple logo upward, and rotate counterclockwise until the cover stops rotating. Remove the cover and the CR2032 lithium 3V battery. Insert a new identical battery, positive side up. It will beep, indicating the battery is in properly. Replace the cover and rotate it clockwise until it stops.

An AirTag uses a CR2032 lithium 3V coin battery. These are easily available at most electronic and drug stores. You can get a pack of 10 on Amazon for $6.

AirTags have an IP67 rating, meaning they can resist most splashing and be submerged in up to a meter (3.3 feet) of water for up to 30 minutes.

30 feet. After that, you will move out of range, and it would need to be picked up by a closer iPhone for it to appear again. Or you can move closer to it yourself.

Sometimes, AirTags don’t appear on Find My iPhone because your phone needs to be updated to the latest iOS version. Also, try restarting your phone. This normally removes any gremlins in the system.

If you are in a busy environment with potentially lots of iPhones around, your location is updated every one to two minutes.