AirPods Not Connecting To Mac? Here's The Real Fix.

David Lynch

JULY 14, 2017

Your AirPods are not connecting to your Mac and you don't know what to do. Your AirPods are designed to quickly pair to the devices linked to your iCloud account, but this process doesn't always go according to plan. In this article, I'll explain why your AirPods won't connect to your Mac and help you solve the problem for good.

Make Sure Your Mac Is Up To Date

Before we dive into the troubleshooting steps, it's important to know that AirPods will only work with Macs that are running the most recent version of the Mac computer operating system — macOS Sierra. If you haven't updated your Mac software in awhile, that may be the reason why your AirPods won't connect to your Mac.

To check what software is currently running your Mac, or to update your Mac software, click the Apple logo in the upper left-hand corner of your screen and click About This Mac. 

A pop-up will appear on your screen, telling you which version of macOS is currently running on your Mac. If you need to update your Mac, click Software Update... and update your Mac.

check for mac update

If you're updated to macOS Sierra, but your AirPods are not connecting to your Mac, follow the steps below to diagnose and fix the problem!

How Fix AirPods Not Connecting To A Mac

10 Steps Total

Turn On Bluetooth On Your Mac

To connect your Mac to a Bluetooth device (computer mouse, headphones, etc.), make sure Bluetooth is turned on.

How Do I Turn On Bluetooth On My Mac?

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click Bluetooth.
  3. Click Turn On Bluetooth.
  4. When Bluetooth is on, your Mac will say Bluetooth: On.
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Put Your AirPods Into Bluetooth Pairing Mode

If your iPhone isn't logged into your iCloud account, you'll have to put your AirPods into Bluetooth pairing mode.

  1. Put your AirPods into the Charging Case.
  2. Keep the lid of your Charging Case open.
  3. Press and hold the setup button on the back of the Charging Case.
  4. When the status light begins to flash white, your AirPods are in Bluetooth pairing mode.
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Manually Connect Your AirPods To Your Mac

Fortunately, when your AirPods are not connecting to your Mac automatically, you can still pair them manually via Bluetooth.

How Do I Manually Connect My AirPods To My Mac?

  1. Make sure you've turned on Bluetooth on your Mac.
  2. Open your AirPods charging case.
  3. Open System Preferences.
  4. Click Bluetooth.
  5. Under your list of devices, double-click on your AirPods.
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Select AirPods As The Output Device

Sometimes, your Mac may be connected to a different output device, which may make it appear that your AirPods are not connecting to your Mac. The fix may be as simple as clicking on your AirPods under the list of your Mac's output devices.

  1. Make sure your AirPods are in range of your Mac and that the charging case is open.
  2. Make sure you've turned on Bluetooth on your Mac.
  3. Open System Preferences.
  4. Click Sound.
  5. Click on the Output tab.
  6. Select your AirPods.
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Forget Your AirPods As A Bluetooth Device On Mac

If your Mac or AirPods have updated, it may affect the way they connect to other devices. By forgetting AirPods as a device on your Mac altogether, you can start over like new. This gives your AirPods an opportunity to make a new, clean connection to your Mac.

How Do I Forget My AirPods As A Bluetooth Device On Mac?

  1. Open System Preferences on your Mac.
  2. Click Bluetooth.
  3. Click once on your AirPods under Devices in the Bluetooth menu.
  4. Click the circular "x" button that appears when you scroll over your AirPods.
  5. Click Forget Device when the confirmation alert appears on the screen.
  6. Wait a few minutes, then try to reconnect your AirPods to your Mac.
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Charge The AirPods Charging Case

It may be a mouthful, but the Charging Case needs to be charged in order to charge your AirPods.

  1. Plug a Lightning cable into the Lightning connector on your Charging Case.
  2. Plug the other end of the Lightning cable into a USB port or wall charger.
  3. It may take a few hours to fully charge your Charging Case.
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Charge Your AirPods

Charging your AirPods ensures that they will have enough battery life to function properly. AirPods are charged using the Charging Case.

  1. Put your AirPods in the Charging Case.
  2. When your AirPods are in the Charging Case, the Status light will indicate the amount of charge your AirPods have.
  3. The Status light will turn green when your AirPods are fully charged.
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Clean Your AirPods and Charging Case

If dirt, dust, or other debris gets into your AirPods or Charging Case, it can affect their functionality and cause hardware problems. For example, if there is debris in your Charging Case, your AirPods may not charge properly.

  1. Get a soft, lint-free cloth. Don't use tissue or cloth that will break up inside your devices.
  2. Gently wipe your AirPods and Charging Case with the cloth.
  3. For more compact debris, you can use an anti-static brush or new toothbrush to clean it out.
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Reset Your AirPods

It may seem simple, but resetting your AirPods may fix minor software bugs such as connectivity issues or a quickly draining battery. Like resetting an iPhone, resetting your AirPods gives them a "fresh start".

  1. Press and hold the setup button on the back of your Charging Case.
  2. Release the setup button when status light flashes amber a few times, then flashes white.
  3. Your AirPods have been reset.
  4. Connect your AirPods to your device, just like you did when you set them up the first time.
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Repair Your AirPods

If you've gotten this far and your AirPods still won't connect to your iPhone, you may have a hardware problem with your AirPods.

How Do I Repair My AirPods?

There are a few ways to repair your AirPods:

If You're Still Within The Return Window

  1. Bring your AirPods back to the store where you purchased them and exchange them for a new pair.

If You're Outside The Return Window

  1. Repair them through Apple's online support, or
  2. Make an appointment at the Genius Bar at your local Apple Store, or
  3. Set up an online mail-in repair through Apple's online support.
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AirPods: Connected To Mac!

Your AirPods are connected to your Mac and you can start listening to your favorite songs, podcasts, and audiobooks again. Now that you know what to do when AirPods are not connecting to a Mac, make sure to share this article with your family and friends on social media. Thanks for reading this article, and feel free to leave us a comment down below if you have any other questions!


David Lynch

Hi, I'm David! I'm here to help you fix problems with your iPhone and help you find a better cell phone plan.


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Lizzie PerrinKristyn HarveyMike Rathbun Recent comment authors
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Mike Rathbun
Mike Rathbun

Thanks for this article. I just got my AirPods a few days ago and everything was working great until today when they wouldn’t connect to my MacBook anymore. I wondered if the issue could be that I always have an iPad Pro, Apple Watch, iPhone 6+, and a MacBook always in range of the AirPods and there might be some confusion of what is the active audio input. Turns out I was over thinking it and wasting time going device by device looking for some non-existent setting which controlled priority or something along those lines. With the help of your… Read more »

Kristyn Harvey
Kristyn Harvey

Thanks for the great article. My sons airpods were brand new and wouldn’t connect to his Mac. After trying all of the suggestions, the one that finally worked was resetting the Airpods. Now everything is working great!

Lizzie Perrin
Lizzie Perrin

Thanks for the help!