How to connect AirPods to Mac

How to connect AirPods to Mac

You can use AirPods with your Mac, but the process is not always simple. Here’s how to do it.

Apple AirPods changed the game when they were reintroduced in 2016; while AirPods isn’t necessarily the first true wireless earbud to enter the market, Apple’s bud feels better than anything you can buy. Four years later and the earbuds are getting stronger with the introduction of features like Hey Siri and even active noise dampening on the high-class AirPods Pro, making it the ideal accessory for your iPhone.

But what about your Mac? The good news is that you can use your AirPods with any Mac, but the bad news is that the process varies depending on the age of your machine. Don’t worry, we at Tech Advisor explain everything you need to know about connecting AirPods to your Mac here.


AirPods must be paired automatically with your Mac

As part of Apple’s “It Just Works” ethos, AirPods must automatically pair with your Mac – although, like most things Apple does, there are provisions.

You must be running the latest version of macOS on a Mac that supports Handoff, and it must be linked to the same Apple ID as your iPhone. Oh, and you have to set up AirPods with your iPhone before – not too much, considering that most AirPods owners will also have an iPhone, but it still hurts if you don’t have one yet.


If you meet the above criteria, you only need to open your AirPods case, click the Volume Control icon in your Mac’s menu bar and select your AirPods as output. Every audio that is currently playing must be transferred to your AirPods, ready to use.

Manually connect AirPods to Mac

Although automatic installation of AirPods is a great feature, it doesn’t always work – especially if you aren’t running the latest version of macOS. So what should a Mac owner do in that situation?

The first step is to open your AirPods case, making sure each AirPods is still installed. With the case open, press and hold the button on the back of the case until the status light on the front flashes white. This determines that the wireless earbud is in Bluetooth pairing mode, and can be connected to any device in the same way as other earbud pairs that support Bluetooth.


On your Mac, click the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar (System Preferences> Bluetooth if the icon is not displayed) and find your AirPods in the list of available Bluetooth devices. Once found, just click Connect to synchronize your AirPods with your Mac.

From then on, all audio played through your Mac must be played through your AirPods and, as long as they support it, all will be able to use the “Hey Siri” voice command to activate Apple’s virtual assistant on your Mac. You also get the option to use active noise cancellation and skip mode if you have connected upgraded AirPods Pro to your machine.

For other great headphone recommendations for use on Mac (or whatever), see our selection of the best wireless headphones. And we have also covered the latest AirPods 3 news for those who want to find out what will happen in the future.

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