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AirPods Not Connecting to Mac? Here’s What to Do!

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Writer, Apple

Over the last decade, Farhad has gained hands-on experience with smartphones, laptops, accessories, wearables, printers, etc. If he's not writing, you can bet he's trying to keep up with the latest technology. He oversees coverage of iPhone, iOS, and Apple Watch for Gotechtor.

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Are your AirPods not connecting to Mac? Don’t worry! Apple has designed AirPods to seamlessly pair to devices linked to the same iCloud account.

However, there might be cases where your AirPods won’t connect to your Mac, such as software conflicts, Bluetooth incompatibilities, hardware failures, etc.

This article explains why your AirPods are not connecting to your Mac and walks you through several troubleshooting steps you can try to fix the problem.

Why Won’t My AirPods Connect to My Mac?

There are many reasons why your AirPods won’t connect to your Mac. It could be a Bluetooth issue, or your AirPods are not within range of your Mac.

AirPods won't connect to my Mac
AirPods Pro and AirPods on a desk. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Here’re the most common reasons your AirPods are not connecting to your Mac:

  • Bluetooth is turned off on your Mac.
  • There is a Bluetooth connection issue on your Mac.
  • Your AirPods are low on or running out of battery.
  • Your AirPods are out of range.
  • Something is wrong with your AirPods.

Now that you know why your AirPods are not connecting to your Mac, it should make it easier for you to pinpoint the problem and find the appropriate fix. Let’s get started.

Keep Your Mac Up to Date

Before overwhelming yourself with the troubleshooting instructions, ensure that your Mac setup runs on the most recent version of the macOS.

AirPods require you to use the latest software; otherwise, you could face connectivity issues. If you haven’t updated your Mac for a while, check the current OS version and update it.

Follow these instructions to update your macOS:

  1. Click the Apple logo at the top-left corner of your screen.
  2. Select About This Mac from the drop-down list.
Opening about this mac
  1. Choose Software Update on the next window.
Updating macOS

Install the new updates and test your AirPods. If your AirPods still don’t connect to your Mac, follow the troubleshooting tips below to diagnose and fix the issues.

How Can I Fix AirPods Not Connecting to Mac?

If your AirPods can’t connect to your Mac, put both AirPods in the charging case and make sure that both AirPods are charging. Ensure Bluetooth is on and your AirPods are selected as your audio device.

1. Enable Bluetooth On Your Mac

AirPods utilize Bluetooth technology to establish a connection to your device. As a result, Bluetooth must be ON before you can link your Mac to Bluetooth devices.

  1. Click on the Bluetooth icon from the top-right corner of the screen.
  2. Use the toggle to activate Bluetooth on your device.
Enabling Bluetooth on mac
Turn on Bluetooth on your Mac. Screenshot: Farhad Pashaei/Gotechtor

Test if your AirPods work after enabling Bluetooth on your Mac.

2. Put Your AirPods Into Pairing Mode

AirPods distinguish the devices from one another using the iCloud account setup on them.

So, if you’re connecting the AirPods to a Mac with a different iCloud account, you must utilize the pairing mode to connect to it.

Here’s how to put your AirPods into Bluetooth pairing mode:

  1. Place the AirPods in their charging case.
  2. Open the lid of the charging case.
  3. Press and hold the Setup switch on the back of the device.
  4. Bluetooth pairing mode is ON when the status light begins to flash.

Try connecting your AirPods to your Mac to see if you still have connection issues.

AirPods automatically connect to the devices they know upon opening the lid of their charging case.

However, sometimes they fail, and you must manually link them to your device through the Bluetooth settings.

  1. Click on the Bluetooth icon from the top-right corner of the screen.
  2. Double-click on your AirPods from the list of devices.
Manually connecting AirPods
Select your AirPods. Screenshot: Farhad Pashaei/Gotechtor

Move on to the next steps if they still don’t get connected.

4. Select AirPods As the Output Device

Your device could be connected to several output devices, making it appear that your AirPods are not connecting to your Mac.

In such cases, you can disconnect all other devices to ensure the AirPods are the primary output device or manually set them under your Mac’s output devices.

Here’s how to manually select your AirPods as the output device:

  1. Keep your Mac’s Bluetooth on and the AirPods in range with the charging case open.
  2. Click the Apple logo at the top-left corner of your screen.
  3. Select System Preferences from the drop-down.
Open system preferences on mac
  1. Open the Sound section.
Opening the sound section in settings
  1. Navigate to the Output tab and select your AirPods.
Selecting AirPods as the output device

Check if your AirPods can connect to your Mac. Still not connecting? Move on to the next step.

5. Restart Your Mac

A simple restart refreshes your device’s system memory, resolving minor technical problems or software glitches. Restarting your Mac provides a chance to start fresh, and here’s how to do it:

  1. Click the Apple logo at the top-left corner of your screen.
  2. Select Restart from the drop-down.
Restarting mac
  1. Confirm the process by choosing Restart when prompted.
Restarting mac

Wait a few minutes until your Mac boots up, and try connecting your AirPods.

6. Remove Your AirPods As a Bluetooth Device On Mac

Bluetooth connections could corrupt over time due to various updates your device receives or other technical issues.

In such cases, you must remove the link by forgetting your AirPods as a device on your Mac and re-establish a clean connection.

Here’s how to forget your AirPods as a Bluetooth device:

  1. Click the Apple logo at the top-left corner of your screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the drop-down.
Open system preferences on mac
  1. Open the Bluetooth section.
Opening the Bluetooth section in settings
  1. Hover on your AirPods and click the X icon when it appears.
Removing AirPods from mac
  1. Click Forget Device when the confirmation message pops up.

Wait a few minutes, then reconnect your AirPods.

7. Charge the AirPods Charging Case

The AirPods charging case works as a power bank for your AirPods. So, you need to keep it charged so it can power the batteries of your AirPods.

AirPods charging
AirPods Pro charging. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

You should use a Lightning cable to plug the charger case into a USB port or wall charger, and it takes a few hours until it gets fully charged.

8. Charge Your AirPods

The AirPods require battery power so they can function correctly. So, ensure they have enough battery life before using them. You only need to place them inside the charging case and wait for the status light to turn green.

9. Clean Your AirPods and Charging Case

Digital devices, including AirPods, require constant maintenance to keep them from hardware difficulties.

clean AirPods kit
AirPods cleaning kit. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

For instance, dirt, dust, and other debris could get into the AirPods or their charging case and cause interference with the connection between your AirPods and Mac.

So, always use a soft, lint-free cloth, gently wipe your AirPods and the charging case, and use an anti-static brush or new toothbrush to clean the ports.

You need to be careful when cleaning your AirPods. Otherwise, you can end up causing irreparable damage to your AirPods. For step-by-step instructions, follow our guide on how to clean AirPods for a safe cleaning procedure.

10. Update Your AirPods Firmware

There is also the possibility that your AirPods won’t connect to your Mac if you haven’t installed the latest firmware.

AirPods firmware version
AirPods firmware version. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Firmware updates are delivered periodically while your AirPods are charging and in Bluetooth range of your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

While AirPods rarely receive firmware updates, they could still cause connectivity problems.

Here’s how you can check your AirPods’ firmware version:

  1. Connect your AirPods to your iPhone. Make sure that you have the latest version of iOS.
  2. Open the Settings app, and go to Bluetooth.
  3. tap the Info (i) button next to the name of your AirPods.
  4. Look in the About section to find the firmware version.

As of this writing, here’re the latest firmware versions.

  • AirPods Pro (2nd generation): 5B58
  • AirPods Pro (1st generation): 5B59
  • AirPods (2nd and 3rd generation): 5B59
  • AirPods Max: 5B59
  • AirPods (1st generation): 6.8.8

If, for some reason, your AirPods don’t have the latest firmware, here’s how to force a manual update:

  1. Put your AirPods in their charging case.
  2. Connect the charging case to a power source.
  3. Make sure that your AirPods and case are physically close to your iPhone.
  4. Wait for around 30 minutes, and check if the firmware has been updated.

If you’ve updated your AirPods firmware to the latest version, and they still won’t connect to your Mac, you may need to reset your AirPods.

11. Reset Your AirPods

AirPods have a reset function that wipes minor software glitches, such as connectivity or battery-draining issues. Like on an iPhone, resetting your AirPods gives them a fresh start, as if they were new.

Here’s how you can reset your AirPods:

  1. Place the AirPods in their charging case, close the lid for 30 seconds, then open it again.
  2. Press and hold the Setup switch on the back of the device. The status light should change from flashing amber to white.
  3. Your AirPods reset when the status light flashes white.

Reconnect the AirPods as a new device.

12. Repair Your AirPods With Apple

If none of the instructions in this article helped, consider contacting Apple support, as they are the only official technical support Apple provides.

Contacting Apple repair

We’ve found the best way to get quick support is through Apple’s online chat feature. It only takes about two minutes for a technician to respond.

Wrap-Up: AirPods Not Connecting to Mac

There you have it–our step-by-step guide to fixing your AirPods not connecting to your Mac. As you can see, troubleshooting connection issues with your AirPods is not difficult as long as you know what to look for.

Sometimes, all it takes is flipping a switch, such as turning on Bluetooth on your Mac. In other cases, you may need to dig deeper into the troubleshooting process.

We hope you find the tips in this guide helpful in solving your AirPods and Mac connection issues. If you fixed the problem with any other solution, please share it in the comments section.

Writer, Apple

Over the last decade, Farhad has gained hands-on experience with smartphones, laptops, accessories, wearables, printers, etc. If he's not writing, you can bet he's trying to keep up with the latest technology. He oversees coverage of iPhone, iOS, and Apple Watch for Gotechtor.

Farhad Pashaei

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