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How to use noise cancellation in just one AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro, like the ears in which they reside, typically come in sets of two. One in the left ear, the other in the right. T'was ever thus.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • AirPods Pro

  • Compatible iOS device

But it's not uncommon to see someone wear just a single earbud. Maybe that's just how they roll. Maybe they need to make sure to hear what's going on around them and want to keep one ear free. Or maybe they just have a single ear. But the simple fact is you don't need a reason. If you want to wear a single AirPod, you do you. We're not here to judge.

But what about active noise cancellation? If you're only using a single AirPod Pro, it's turned off by default and won't turn on with the usual squeeze of the stem.

Turn on ANC for a single AirPod Pro earbud

Having ANC turned off when you're only using a single AirPod Pro is by design. But if you really want to have one ear open while the other has ANC turned on and the world tuned out, here's how to do it.

Step 1: Turn on your AirPods Pro either by opening the case or by inserting at least one into your ear.

Step 2: On your iPhone or iPad, open the Settings menu.

Step 3: Select your AirPods Pro.

AirPods Pro single earbud ANC setting.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 4: Scroll down (way down) and head into the Accessibility section.

Step 5: About halfway down (you may have to swipe depending on your text size), you'll see Noise cancellation with one AirPod. Turn the toggle on.

And that's that. You'll now have one ear with Active Noise Cancellation. The other ear is left free to roam about the world, burdened by the din.

There's likely a very good reason this is turned off by default — it's definitely a little weird. But having an option is better than not having an option, so you can feel free to turn it on if you want.

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Phil Nickinson
Section Editor, Audio/Video
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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