Apple’s AirPods “just work” with iPhones thanks to their W1 chip, but they’re also standard Bluetooth headphones. That means they work with any device that supports Bluetooth audio—even Android phones.
RELATED: What Is Apple’s W1 Chip?
The pairing process won’t be as effortless as pairing with an iPhone, and the connection may not be quite as solid, but they’ll work with anything from an Android phone or Windows PC to other Apple devices like an Apple TV. There’s also an easy pairing process if you’re using a Mac or iPad.
If you’ve already paired your AirPods with your iPhone, this pairing status will sync between your iPhone and any iPads and Macs you have on your account thanks to iCloud. For this to work, you have to be signed into the iPad or Mac with the same Apple ID you use on your iPhone. For Macs, you must have Handoff enabled.
Older Macs that don’t support Handoff can’t take advantage of this easy pairing process, and you’ll have to manually pair it with them using Bluetooth. This pairing status also doesn’t sync to Apple TVs, so you’ll have to use Bluetooth to pair AirPods with an Apple TV, too.
If everything is set up properly, you can simply select your AirPods like any other audio device from your iPad or Mac. First, ensure either your AirPods case is open, the AirPods are out of the case, or that they’re in your ears. If they’re in the case and the case is closed, they won’t be available as an audio device option.
On an iPad, open the Control Center, tap the audio wave icon at the top right corner of the music controls or long-press the music controls and tap the device switcher icon, and select your AirPods in the list of audio devices.
On a Mac, click the volume icon on your Mac’s menu bar and select your AirPods in the list of available devices or head to Apple menu > System Preferences > Sound and choose the AirPods. You can also enable the volume icon on your Mac’s menu bar from here by checking the “Show volume in menu bar” box, if it isn’t already enabled.
To pair your AirPods with any other device—or an older Mac, if you don’t meet the above requirements—you’ll just need to find the easy-to-miss pairing button on the AirPods charging case.
Look on the back of your AirPods case. See that faint silver circle near the bottom, just above the Lightning port? That’s the “setup button” you need to pair your AirPods with other devices where the W1 chip can’t pair it automatically.
To place your AirPods in pairing mode, here’s what you need to do:
While the white light is flashing, your AirPods will be “discoverable”. In other words, they’ll appear as a peripheral you can pair from your Bluetooth settings, just like any other Bluetooth headphones or speakers. For example:
If you take a little while to find the Bluetooth options, your AirPods might leave pairing mode and you’ll see the white blinking light stop. Just long-press the circular setup button again and your AirPods will re-enter pairing mode and be discoverable from your other devices once again.
Once they’re connected, your AirPods will function as normal Bluetooth headphones with whatever device they’re paired to.
Your AirPods will be disconnected from your iPhone after you pair them with another non-iOS device. You’ll need to reconnect them to your iPhone to use them with your iPhone once again.
To do this, first place your AirPods back in their case. Head to your iPhone’s home screen, open the AirPods case, and hold it near your iPhone. (This same process works on an iPad, if you want to pair your AirPods with an iPad instead of an iPhone.)
You’ll see a “Not Your AirPods” message appear on your screen. Tap “Connect.” You’ll then be prompted to press and hold the circular button on the back of the case. Release the button when “Connecting” appears on your screen and they’ll be automatically reconnected to your iPhone.