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How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

Apple’s AirPods and AirPods Pro are a great way to listen to music, video, podcasts, and more without the annoying wired tether. As expected, they work with most Bluetooth-enabled iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS devices.

And while they’re easy to pair with an iPhone and iPad, how do they connect with a Mac? The good news is that AirPods have a pretty intuitive connection process. Our guide will help you get your AirPods connected in mere minutes.

For AirPods already paired with an iPhone

AirPods on Mac Menu

Using AirPods on a Mac that are already paired with an iPhone is easy. Just make sure both the iPhone and the Mac are signed in to iCloud using the same Apple ID. But if your iPhone gets used by multiple people or you need a different account for your Mac at work, this option may not be possible.

Step 1: Turn the AirPods on, and pop them into your ears.

Step 2: On your Mac, click the Bluetooth icon located on the Menu Bar — it’s next to the battery icon on Big Sur and next to the Wi-Fi icon on Catalina. Alternatively, click the Volume Control icon next to the battery icon (Catalina) or the Output button next to the sound bar in the Control Center (Big Sur).

Step 3: Select the AirPods listed on the drop-down menu. They typically appear as [Your Name]’s AirPods. A chime plays when the AirPods connect.

No other setup is needed! If the AirPods do not show up on the Bluetooth and Volume Control menus, however, move on to the next section.

For brand-new AirPods on MacOS

The setup process will be a little more involved when connecting AirPods to a Mac for the first time, but it’s still pretty straightforward.

Step 1: Open System Preferences by either clicking the Gear icon on the Dock or by clicking the Apple logo in the top-left, then clicking System Preferences.

Step 2: Click Bluetooth, and verify that it’s turned on.

Connect Bluetooth AirPods on Mac

Step 3: Move to the AirPods, and place them in the charging case. Make sure the lid remains open, as shown below.

Airpods Case

Step 3: On the back of the AirPod case, find the Setup button. Select and hold this button until the status LED flashes white. The AirPods are now in pairing mode.

Step 4: On the Mac, locate the Bluetooth menu. Under Devices, find the AirPods. Click the Connect button.

If the sound is still playing through the Mac’s speakers, click the Bluetooth menu again. Select the AirPods as the output.

Are the AirPods failing to connect?

When attempting to connect your AirPods, you may have connection problems or troubles with iCloud. An error message stating, “Couldn’t connect to this device,” may pop up. Alternatively, the Mac may not be able to see the AirPods as an option to connect.

Here are a few solutions:

Reset Bluetooth

Step 1: Click the Bluetooth icon, followed by the toggle on the drop-down menu to switch Bluetooth off.

Step 2: Wait a few moments, and then toggle Bluetooth back on.

Reboot devices

Step 1: Power down the Mac and AirPods.

Step 2: Turn the Mac back on, and wait for it to boot into MacOS.

Step 3: Turn the AirPods back on.

Reset the AirPods

Step 1: Open Settings on iOS or iPadOS and tap Bluetooth.

Step 2: Tap the “I” icon listed next to the AirPods.

Step 3: Tap Forget This Device.

Step 4: With the AirPods in the case, open the lid and press and hold the Setup button for 15 seconds.

Step 5: Reconnect the AirPods.

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