There are few things that infuriate Apple users more than not getting their AirPods to work on their Mac.
The process is supposed to be seamless. Automatic.
So what gives? Why aren’t the AirPods working?
Well, there are several possibilities.
We’ll go through each of them with the best solutions.
Continue reading to find out:
- A fast way to reset your AirPods.
- How to install the latest macOS in a few clicks.
- 3 Simple steps to correct your Mac’s audio output setting.
- How to easily clean your AirPods and their charging case.
- A quick fix to a macOS Monterey-related bug affecting AirPods.
- And a lot more…
Why are my AirPods not working on Mac?
Your AirPods aren’t working on Mac because your macOS isn’t up to date, the Bluetooth and audio settings are incorrect, other devices are trying to connect to your AirPods, or because of dirt or debris build-up in your AirPods. It may also be a macOS bug problem or your AirPods might be defective.
AirPods not working on Mac: 9 causes & solutions
#1: You haven’t installed the latest macOS
For your Mac to perform best, it’s always a good practice to install the latest macOS.
One possible reason why your AirPods aren’t working on Mac is because you have an outdated macOS.
Without the latest macOS installed some apps may not perform properly. You may also experience glitches. And that includes trying to get your AirPods to work.
Step #1: To check if you have the latest macOS installed, go to your Mac’s System Preferences. It’s the one with the gear icon in your dock.
Another way to go to System Preferences is by clicking the Apple logo on the top left of your Mac.
Step #2: Once you’re there, look for Software Update. It actually uses a similar gear icon. Click that.
Step #3: You’ll see a message confirming if your macOS is up to date. Or…
You’ll get an option to download and install them. Click that to get your update started.
Warning: If you haven’t updated your Mac in a while, expect a longer download and installation time. So plan ahead.
#2: Your AirPods’ batteries have been drained
This may sound obvious. But it’s still worth pointing out.
It won’t hurt to double-check if it’s a battery drainage problem.
Perhaps your AirPods only need a charge.
Try to charge your AirPods.
The light indicator in the charging case is your guide. Put your AirPods back in the charging case. Keep the lid open.
If the light’s green while your AirPods are inside, it means the AirPods are fully charged.
If it’s amber, it means your AirPods are charging.
If it’s red or there’s no light at all, then you’ll need to charge the charging case itself.
#3: The Bluetooth setting on your Mac is off
This is another simple but common cause why your AirPods won’t connect to your Mac.
You may have simply forgotten to turn on your Mac’s Bluetooth connection.
Your AirPods won’t connect at all with the Bluetooth in your Mac off.
There are 2 easy ways to access your Mac’s Bluetooth option.
- Go to System Preferences.
- When you click that, find the Bluetooth icon. Then click the “Turn Bluetooth on” button.
- Click the Control Center found on the top right portion of your Mac. It’s the one with the two toggle bars as an icon.
- Click that. Then click the Bluetooth icon. You should see a toggle that you could switch on.
#4: The audio output setting in your Mac isn’t correct
Your AirPods may be already connected to your Mac.
Yet the sound you hear is still coming out of your Mac.
This is caused by an incorrect audio output setting.
To fix this, you’re going to have to make your AirPods the default audio device.
To do that:
- Go to your Mac’s System Preferences.
- Click Sound.
- Then Output.
When you see the list of devices for sound output, select your AirPods.
You might also like: 3 Ways To Connect Apple Music To Alexa (How-To Guide)
#5: Your need to reset your Mac or your AirPods
You know your Mac’s in perfect condition. You know your AirPods are working perfectly fine.
Yet you still couldn’t get them to work together. For no obvious reason.
Well, that’s because technical glitches do happen.
And sometimes all that’s needed is a simple reset or power cycle.
Restart your Mac. And reset your AirPods.
A quick way to restart your Mac
Click the Apple logo on the top left portion of your screen. You should find an option there to restart.
A keyboard shortcut to force restart your Mac
Press the Command and Control keys along with the power button.
Press them for a few seconds. And your Mac should restart automatically.
To reset your AirPods, you may do the following steps:
- Place your AirPods back in the charging case.
- Close the lid and wait for about 15 seconds.
- Open the lid back.
- Press and hold the charging case’s setup button for about 10 seconds.
Once the light starts flashing white, it means your AirPods are ready to connect again.
#6: Other devices are trying to connect to your AirPods
One possible reason you’re having connection problems with your AirPods is because of…
The presence of other devices.
You may have already paired your AirPods with another device other than your Mac. And it’s nearby. Plus, its Bluetooth setting is on.
This will certainly cause conflict. Your AirPods may be trying to automatically connect to your other device. And that’s why it’s not working on your Mac.
If you have another phone or tablet near you, check if its Bluetooth is on. If it is, try to switch it off.
Make sure that your Mac is the only device with Bluetooth on to avoid connection conflict.
#7: Dirt build-up is hampering your AirPods’ functionality
One of the most common causes of malfunctioning AirPods is debris build-up.
It’s inevitable. Because we usually take our AirPods outside. In public places. Or place them in our bags or our pockets which may not be clean.
AirPods and their charging case are bound to get dirty at some point. And when it does, you’ll notice issues.
It might not charge properly. Or it might struggle to connect or work with other devices like your Mac.
Try to clean your AirPods. You may use everyday household items like Q-Tips, tissues, or a clean piece of cloth.
Wipe the dirt build-up on both ends of your AirPods. Make sure to also clean the AirPod holders inside the case.
The Lightning port in the charging case is also prone to dust build-up. You may clean that with a pin or a toothpick.
Note: Just see to it that you do it gently. Else, you accidentally cause damage to your device.
Here’s a good guide from Youtube on how to clean AirPods:
#8: There’s a bug in the macOS update
It’s always advisable to keep your macOS up to date. However, sometimes the latest update might cause bugs.
And sometimes this may be what’s causing your AirPods to not work properly.
Some of those who installed macOS Monterey back in December 2021 experienced this.
All of a sudden, one of their AirPods is no longer working.
This can be attributed to the audio balance bug of macOS Monterey.
To fix macOS Monterey’s audio balance problem, simply follow these steps:
- Connect your AirPods to your Mac.
- Go to your Mac’s System Preferences.
- Click Sound.
- Look for Output and click that. You should see your AirPods in the list of devices.
- Select your AirPods.
- Find the Balance settings. Its options are left, center, and right. Move the cursor to the center.
This should fix the audio balance problem. Both of your AirPods should be receiving sounds now.
9: Your AirPods may be defective
AirPods aren’t exactly the most durable gadgets. On average, users start to notice some deterioration. Batteries no longer last as long. The sounds are no longer as crisp.
Maybe you’ve gone through all the troubleshooting steps. And you still couldn’t get your AirPods to work on your Mac.
Try using them with some other device. If you’re also having problems getting them to work, then your AirPods may really be defective.
The good thing is that your AirPods come with at least a limited warranty. It should be good for one year. If you’re located in EU countries, though, by law it should be 2 years.
If it’s still under warranty, you may go to an Apple store to get it fixed or replace.
Note: Apple’s limited warranty only covers manufacturing-related defects. It doesn’t cover issues caused by normal wear and tear. For better protection, consider purchasing their AppleCare+ for Headphones warranty.
Apple also offers out-of-warranty services. You’ll have to shell out some money to get your AirPods fixed. But it should be well worth it.
Further reading: 11 Reasons Why Your AirPods Are So Quiet + Fixes