How to Connect AirPods to Your MacBook

Apple’s AirPods and AirPods Pro are completely wireless earbuds that are great for listening to music, video, podcasts — without the annoying wires. Generally, they work well with most iOS, iPadOS, and macOS devices via Bluetooth.

While AirPods and AirPods Pro are easy to pair with an iPhone or iPad, connecting with a Mac is not so straightforward. So if you’re looking to connect Airpods to Mac, check out the guide above to know what to do.

Using Airpods on MacBook

If you are already using your AirPods or AirPods Pro with another device, such as an iPhone, iPad, or even an Android phone, it is still possible if you want to connect them to your Mac. This can be done as long as your Mac and macOS version are recent enough.

Before you proceed, it is recommended that you upgrade your Mac to macOS Catalina and that you have installed patch10.15.1. Airpods and AirPods Pro support a wide variety of macOS devices, including iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook, Mac mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro.

Updating your Mac’s operating system will probably take some time, so make sure you do this ahead of time, especially if you haven’t installed system updates in a while.

Take note that you will need a relatively recent Mac to support Catalina. If you’ve been using your Mac for a long time, you might need to check whether it can still run Catalina. macOS Catalina supports macOS devices from 2012 onward.

How to Connect Airpods to Mac

Connecting your AirPods to your Mac may not be as easy as pairing it with your iPhone, but it is not impossible. You can actually pair your AirPods with multiple devices at a time so you don’t have to change them every time you use another device.

To be able to connect Airpods to Mac, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Lock All Other iOS and macOS Nearby.

The first thing you need to do is make sure that your AirPods have enough charge by using the charging case. It also makes things easier if your Mac is ready and unlocked nearby. The H1 chip inside the AirPods usually makes it easy to pair with iOS and iPads, but you won’t be using that when you try to pair it with your Mac.

To prevent from other devices interfering with the connection, make sure that all iPhones, iPads, and other Macs in the area are turned off or in locked mode. This way, no other devices will be competing for the AirPods’ attention.

Step 2: Open the Bluetooth Settings.

On your Mac (running at least macOS Catalina), click on the Bluetooth icon located at the upper-right corner of the screen, beside the clock. Click Open Bluetooth Preferences at the bottom of the dropdown menu that shows a list of connected devices.

Another way to get to the Bluetooth settings is by clicking Apple menu > System Preferences. Double-click on the Bluetooth icon to open its preference pane. You can also tick off the Show Bluetooth in the menu bar option if you want to create a shortcut in the menu bar to quickly access the settings.

Step 3: Request a Connection.

In the Bluetooth preferences window, locate the name of your AirPods. Click on it to prompt a new Connection Request dialog box to open. When asked if it’s OK to connect to the AirPods, click Connect. If the dialog box disappears before you were able to click Connect, just click on the AirPods again from the list of Bluetooth devices.

After you click Connect, your Mac should initiate the pairing process. The pairing process between the AirPods and Mac is more manual compared when pairing it with iOS devices, but it shouldn’t take a long time. If the pairing process fails, just try and try because it will soon be successful after a few times. Once the AirPods are successfully paired, it will be smooth sailing from there.

Step 4: Customize Your Settings.

After pairing your AirPods with your Mac, the next step is to configure some basic settings. If you’ve done this on your other devices, then you don’t need to configure it again. But if you skipped that step before or this is the first time you have connected your AirPods, this step should be necessary.

Once connected, click on the Options button beside the connected AirPods on the Bluetooth device list. It will bring up a list of AirPods settings that you can adjust.

Microphone Settings

Click on Microphone from the settings to reveal a pull-down menu with three options. You can choose from:

  • Automatically Switch AirPods (the default)
  • Always Left AirPod
  • Always Right AirPod

Unless you have a specific reason why you want to use the left or right earpiece as mic, you should leave the default. Automatically Switch AirPods lets you use either left or right earpiece to take your calls and control Siri.

Automatic Ear Detection

When Automatic Ear Detection is ticked off, it automatically switches the audio from your Mac speakers to the AirPods when they are connected. It is even smart enough to detect when you’re wearing them and they are not just nearby.

You can use the AirPods’ control surface to play and pause music on your Mac’s Music app with a single tap. . A double or triple tap will skip a track forward or backward, like how it is with your iPhone or iPad.

When you remove your AirPods, your Mac switches back to the default speakers, but playback is paused so you don’t have to worry about the sudden blaring sound. However, you will need to manually restart the music.

Press & Hold Settings

The next two items in the settings are for Press & Hold for each earpiece. Click on the pull-down menu to choose either Noise Control or Siri.

When you choose Siri, it will summon the assistant when you press and hold the control area. But if you choose the Noise Control mode, it will go through Noise Cancelling modes. Here’s a cool fact: you can choose one ear to summon Siri and the other one to manage Noise Control!

Noise Control Settings

You can also customize the Noise Control settings using various modes. In the Noise Control Toggles Between window, you can enable three settings:

  • Noise Cancellation
  • Transparency
  • Off

So when you press the control surface, it will cycle through these three modes. But, you can also choose one or two of these options depending on your preferences.

What If Airpods Won’t Connect to Mac?

If you ever run into connectivity issues or issues when pairing your AirPods with your Mac, such as the “Couldn’t connect to the device” error or your Mac can’t detect the AirPods for some reason, here are a few solutions you can try:

Reset Bluetooth.

  1. On your Mac, click on the Bluetooth icon.
  2. In the dropdown menu, toggle the switch to turn Bluetooth off.
  3. Wait a minute, then toggle Bluetooth back on.

Reboot Mac and AirPods.

  1. Press the Power button to shut down your Mac.
  2. Turn off your AirPods as well.
  3. Switch your Mac back on, then wait for macOS to boot.
  4. Turn your AirPods back on.

Reset the AirPods.

  1. Open the Bluetooth settings on your Mac.
  2. Select your AirPods and right-click on it.
  3. Choose Remove.
  4. With the AirPods in their case, open the lid then press and hold the Setup button for at least 15 seconds.
  5. Reconnect the AirPods following the instructions above.

Final Thoughts

Connecting your AirPods to your Mac requires manual configurations, but it is not something complicated. You can easily do this by following the instructions above. If you come across any error, make sure to clean up your Mac first using a Mac cleaner before troubleshooting your AirPods connection.

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