How to Connect AirPods to a MacBook

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Matthew Wilhelm Kapell
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As long as your Mac and AirPods are compatible, it's super easy to connect the two devices to play music. And even if you run into trouble, it only takes a few steps to pair them and get back to enjoying your favorite audio.

This article will give you quick tutorials on how to do it on MacBook. But the same steps apply to other Mac computers, assuming they are running the correct version of software.



Without further ado, let's dive into it.

How to Connect AirPods to a MacBook

This section assumes that your AirPods are not linked to your iPhone or iPad. Either way, you can easily connect them to a MacBook. Here are the steps:

  1. Put the AirPods in the case with the lid open.
  2. Press the setup button and wait for the status light to flash white. This shows that the device is ready for pairing.
  3. Launch System Preferences on your Macbook and choose Bluetooth.
  4. The AirPods should appear in the device list. Select them.

Additional steps

Your AirPods may support Siri, and you may be asked to help improve dictation and Siri. If so, follow these steps.

  1. Click Activate when prompted to start using Siri with AirPods.
  2. To improve dictation and Siri, select Share audio recordings.

Important note

You can always choose not to share recordings by clicking Not now. But if you decide to do so, be aware that Apple will analyze samples of the AI's interactions with your Mac to improve performance.



You can also change these preferences later by doing the following:

  1. Launch System Preferences and click Security & Privacy.
  2. Go to the Privacy tab and select Analytics and improvements from the side menu.
  3. Uncheck the Enhance Siri & Dictation box, and that's it.

If you are concerned about privacy, you can also delete your recording history.

  1. In System Preferences, select Siri.
  2. Choose Delete Siri and Dictation History and confirm the selection.

It's worth pointing out that none of the additional steps affect your connection with the AirPods.

Troubleshooting Tip: Your Mac may not respond to voice input to trigger Siri even though AirPods support it. If so, launch Siri Preferences and enable ā€œHey Siriā€ for AirPods.

AirPods already connected to an iPhone

When your iPhone is already connected, you can start using AirPods with two clicks.

  1. Open the case.
  2. Click the Volume icon in the menu bar, select AirPods, and you're good to go.

Notes: Your Mac needs Handoff support, and you must use the same Apple ID on both devices. Handoff compatible MacBooks start from MacBook Pro Mid 2012 and beyond. The same goes for late 2012 iMacs and mid-2011 Mac Minis.

How to connect AirPods to MacBook after forgetting the device?

Reconnecting your AirPods to a MacBook or other compatible Mac is usually straightforward. Of course, this is possible as long as both devices are compatible, up to date, and using the same Apple ID.



That aside, the next thing you should do is:

  1. Open the lid of the AirPods case with the headphones inside.
  2. Press the configuration button on the back of the case and wait for the green light to turn white.
  3. Release the button; the light will continue to flash indicating the AirPods are ready to pair.
  4. AirPods appear automatically on compatible Macs.
  5. Open Bluetooth on your Mac, select AirPods and you can start using them.

Is the connection rejected?

There are several things to check to determine why the connection is being rejected. And you may need to reset your AirPods.


First, check AirPods compatibility with your MacBook. For example, AirPods 2nd Gen. only work with macOS 10.14.4 and later software iterations. And if you are a 1st generation AirPods user, you will need macOS Sierra or newer macOS.

If the software is incompatible, run an update from System Preferences before reconnecting the AirPods.

But, if you can see the AirPods under the list of Bluetooth devices and they won't connect, follow these steps.

  1. Highlight AirPods in the list and select X on the right side to remove them.
  2. Put the AirPods in the case and open the lid.
  3. Place the case near your MacBook.
  4. They should automatically connect to the computer and appear in the list of Bluetooth devices.

Sometimes it doesn't work and you will need to reset the AirPods.


How to Reset AirPods

  1. Put the AirPods in the case, close it and wait about 30 seconds.
  2. Open the lid and navigate to Bluetooth under System Preferences on your Mac.
  3. Select your AirPods from the device list.
  4. Click Forget This Device and confirm your action.
  5. Open the AirPods case lid and press the setup button for 15 seconds. The light will flash amber, then white when they are ready to pair.
  6. Go back to Bluetooth settings, select your AirPods and test them.

Resetting AirPods Max

Let your AirPods Max charge for a while before resetting them. Then do the following:

  1. Press the Digital Crown and the noise control button for about 15 seconds.
  2. The status light flashes amber, then white.
  3. Release the buttons and reconnect the AirPods Max through your Mac's Bluetooth settings.

Sometimes just restarting those AirPods does the trick.

  1. Press the Digital Crown and Noise Control buttons until the indicator light flashes orange.
  2. Release the buttons and wait for the AirPods to reconnect to your Mac.

Notes: Resetting AirPods Max, or any other model, restores the original factory settings. This means you'll need to go back to the AirPods settings on your mobile device and change the preferences to your liking.

Enjoy your AirPods

The advantage of connecting the AirPods is that similar steps to repair the connection apply if you pair the wireless headphones with mobile devices: you simply delete or forget the device via Bluetooth settings and follow the same actions to restart or reset the AirPods via their Case.

However, remember to check if your iOS is up to date to make sure you can establish the connection.

How many devices have you paired with your AirPods? Tell us more in the comments section.

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