Tips and Tricks for Getting the Most Out of Your New AirPods

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Dec 26, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    AirPods were a hot ticket item this holiday season, selling out from Apple and other retailers.

    We're guessing quite a few MacRumors readers got new AirPods during the holidays, so we thought we'd share some super handy tips and tricks that'll help you get the most out of your new earphones.

    AirPods Requirements

    To use all of the below features, you're going to need to install iOS 10.2 or later, and for some features, iOS 11 or later is required. On the Apple Watch, watchOS 3 or later is required, and on Mac, macOS 10.12 Sierra or later is required.


    Devices that support iOS 10.2 or later include the iPhone 5 and later, the iPad mini 2 and later, the iPad Air and later, the 6th-generation iPod touch, and all iPad Pro models. All Apple Watch models work with AirPods, as do Macs that support Handoff functionality.

    To take full advantage of AirPods, an iCloud account is required, but if you have an Apple device, you likely use iCloud regularly.

    Customize Tap Functionality

    Your AirPods are equipped with accelerometers and other hardware that allow them to respond to a double tap, and though it isn't obvious, these gestures can be customized to your liking. Here's how:
    1. Make sure your AirPods are connected to your iPhone or iPad, either when you're wearing them or with the case open and nearby your device.
    2. Open up the Settings app.
    3. Choose "Bluetooth."
    4. Next to the AirPods in the Bluetooth menu, tap the little "i" button.
    5. Select "Left" and "Right" to customize what your AirPods do when you double tap them. Each one can be set to a separate action.
    Choices include "Siri," which activates Siri, "Play/Pause," which starts or stops a song, "Next Track," which moves to the next track of whatever's being played, and "Previous Track," which goes back to the track that was previously being played. "Off" turns off whatever's playing.


    Once you have your settings in place, whenever you double tap on an AirPod, it will activate whatever action you chose. With Siri, for example, you can double tap to bring up Siri.

    You can also use this AirPods setting menu to change the name of your AirPods, deactivate Automatic Ear Detection and set either the left or right AirPod to serve as a fixed microphone.

    Note: "Next Track" and "Previous Track" are both options that were introduced with iOS 11, so you will need to have iOS 11 installed to see these two AirPods options. Without iOS 11, you can only choose "Siri," "Play/Pause," and "Off."

    Tap Your Ear

    You don't necessarily have to tap right on your AirPod to use the double tap gestures. Many people prefer to tap softly on the back of an ear instead. It's a little less audibly jarring and it works just as well.


    Switching Devices

    There's an Apple-designed chip called a "W1" inside of your AirPods, and this chip connects your AirPods to your iCloud account. What this means is that every device you have where you're signed into iCloud knows your AirPods exist and can connect to them without having to go through a pairing process every time.


    Switching between devices is as simple as opening up the Bluetooth settings on a given device and then choosing your AirPods to connect seamlessly. On the device you used to set up your AirPods, they'll connect automatically whenever you open up the case.

    Quickly Pair to Apple TV

    There's a little trick to make it easier to pair your AirPods to your Apple TV. With the AirPods in your ears or in the case with the lid open, turn on your Apple TV.


    At the main Apple TV screen, hold down on the Play/Pause button on the Siri Remote to bring up an interface that lets you select an audio source. Swipe down to your AirPods, click the main button on the remote, and a connection is established.

    If you're using the Apple Remote app or the Control Center Apple TV Remote, you can long press on the Play/Pause button to bring up the audio menu.

    Quickly Pair to an iOS device

    To pair your AirPods on an iOS device running iOS 11, you don't need to open up the Settings app. Instead, you can use the Now Playing widget in Control Center. Here's how:
    1. On your iOS device, swipe up from the bottom of the display to bring up Control Center.
    2. On the main music widget, tap the two lines located in the upper right corner.
    3. From the list, choose your AirPods.
    Once selected from the Control Center list, your AirPods will connect to your iOS device automatically. It takes a few swipes and taps, but it's ultimately quicker than opening up the Settings app.

    Pair AirPods to Your Apple Watch

    You can pair the AirPods directly to Your Apple Watch to listen to music. Here's how:
    1. With the AirPods in your ears, swipe up from the bottom of the Apple Watch display to bring up Control Center.
    2. Tap on the AirPlay icon at the bottom of control Center.
    3. Choose AirPods.
    Take Advantage of Siri

    If one of your AirPod double-tap gestures is set to "Siri," you can tap on an AirPod to activate Siri. Siri can play songs and albums from your Apple Music Library, or if you're in the mood for something like 80's music, just ask Siri. Siri will play music from different genres, Apple Music playlists, and radio stations if you have an Apple Music subscription.

    Using Siri is a simple, hands-free way to listen to whatever you want on your AirPods, and Siri's also, unfortunately, the only way to adjust the volume on the AirPods without having to use your connected device.


    In addition to asking Siri to play music, all of the standard Siri commands are supported, since it's just routing through your phone. Siri can make phone calls, send texts, set reminders, control HomeKit devices, open apps, answer simple questions, and more.

    Siri requires an internet connection to function, so the device connected to your AirPods will need to be connected to WiFi or Cellular for Siri on AirPods to work.

    Using Just One AirPod

    You don't need to use both AirPods at once. If you want to make a call or better hear your ambient surroundings, you can choose to use just one AirPod.

    If you have Automatic Ear Detection turned on and take an AirPod out, you may need to press play again, but once you do, it works just like having two AirPods in your ears. Music won't play out of the AirPod not in use, and if you do put it back in, your music resumes in both AirPods.

    Pairing AirPods with a non-Apple Device

    Your AirPods are designed to work with Apple products, but they use Bluetooth and can pair with your Android device, your PC, or any other device that works with Bluetooth headphones. Here's how to pair with a non-Apple device:
    1. Put the AirPods in the AirPods case.
    2. Open up the lid.
    3. Press and hold the button on the back of the case until a white light flashes.
    4. Open up Bluetooth settings on the device you're connecting to and choose the AirPods.
    Get Your Calls Announced

    If you get an incoming call while your AirPods are in your ears and want to know who it is without having to look at your iPhone, there's an "Announce Calls" feature for that. Here's how to use it:
    1. Open the Settings app.
    2. Scroll down to "Phone."
    3. Select "Announce Calls."
    Toggle on "Headphones & Car" to have calls announced when either headphones are connected or you're in the car. "Headphones Only" will announce calls only when your headphones are in, and not when you're in the car, and "Always" means your iPhone will audibly tell you who's calling even when headphones aren't in.

    Locate a Lost AirPod

    As of iOS 10.3, there's a dedicated "Find My AirPods" feature for keeping track of your AirPods. Find My AirPods is limited to the AirPods themselves -- it can't locate a lost case, nor does it work when the AirPods are disconnected from an iOS device and stored in a case.


    Find My AirPods basically lets you know the last known location of your AirPods. You can access it from the Find My iPhone app or from iCloud, but for detailed instructions on the feature, check out our dedicated how to.

    Check Your AirPods Battery

    To check the battery of your AirPods while you're using them, swipe on the right of the iPhone or iPad display to bring up your widgets. Find the "Batteries" widget to get a readout on the battery life of your iOS device, your AirPods, and any other connected Bluetooth devices that support the feature.


    If your AirPods aren't in your ears, just open up the case when it's near your iPhone to get a popup that shows you the battery life. This is also the only way to see the battery of the AirPods case.

    If you have an Apple Watch, you can open up the Control Center while you're using the AirPods and tap the battery icon to see the battery life of both the Apple Watch and the AirPods. On Mac, use the Bluetooth menu to check battery on paired AirPods.

    You can also ask Siri to tell you what your remaining battery life is.

    Interpreting the Light on the AirPods Case

    If you open up the case for your AirPods, you'll see a little light located inside.


    Here's what each color means:

    Green: Fully charged
    Orange: Not a full charge
    Amber: Less than one full charge remains
    Flashing white: Ready to pair


    AirPods charge with a Lightning cable, so it's super simple to charge them up when the battery is low. Given the design of the AirPods, they're compatible with many iPhone docks on the market, so if you have a dock for your iPhone, you can also use it to charge the AirPods.

    Get Your AirPods Serial Number and Check Firmware

    If you need the serial number for your AirPods or want to make sure you're running the most up-to-date version of the AirPods firmware, here's how:
    1. Open up the Settings app on your iOS device while your AirPods are in your ears.
    2. Choose "General."
    3. Choose "About."
    4. Scroll down to "AirPods" and tap it.
    This menu lists model number, serial number, hardware version, and firmware version.

    Wrap Up

    The AirPods are one of Apple's most popular accessories in recent history, and they've been largely well-received by Apple customers thanks to the ease of use, simple pairing, long range Bluetooth connectivity, universal fit, easy device switching, and decent battery life.


    If you're new to AirPods, you'll likely fall in love with them after just a few uses, and even more so when you've read through our tips and figured out everything they're capable of.

    Are there must-know AirPods tips and tricks we've left out? Let us know in the comments!

    Article Link: Tips and Tricks for Getting the Most Out of Your New AirPods
  2. profmatt macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2015
    You can change the volume using Now Playing on your Apple Watch, without having to pull your iPhone out of your pocket.
  3. Lopezzi macrumors newbie


    Jul 23, 2002
    Springfield, MO
    Last I knew, the Switch didn't support bluetooth headphones. I REALLY wish it would as the AirPods would be perfect for it, but I believe Nintendo hasn't enabled this functionality, or claims it's not possible with what's in the Switch.
  4. democracyrules macrumors 6502a

    Nov 18, 2016
    Thank you for the note, Matthew.
  5. MagicWok macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2006
    Yes I had to double check I didn't miss some update on my Switch that added bluetooth audio support (without the need for a dongle). The MR article should be updated for accuracy regarding the Switch.
  6. Cloudsurfer macrumors 65816


    Apr 12, 2007
    Nice article. I got them this Christmas, loving them so far! I always thought they would just be wireless Earpods, but in reality they’re a bit better and they can get much louder as well. Very easy to use as well.
  7. thefourthpope macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2007
    Worth noting that “next track” will also start music playing when you first put the AirPods in / have no music playing. I’ve found that feature combined with paying when an AirPod is removed makes the “play/pause” tap feature unnecessary.
  8. jclo Editor


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2012
    It’s been fixed. Appreciate the heads up.
  9. MrGuder macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2012
    If I'm on 9.3.5 will air pods work on my iPhone?
  10. Yumbo macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2011
    Try wearing them upside down.
    Way better sound.
  11. Paddy M macrumors newbie

    Paddy M

    Dec 26, 2017
    Ok - what about the looks. They seem way out there.
  12. willnpc macrumors member


    May 24, 2015
    Panama City
    Now you too can look like you have q tips hanging out your ears for the low price of $160 plus tax! Just joking.. but really, I tried them out and for the price... no thx, not much better than my wireless earbuds I got for under $30...sometimes you just gotta say pass on Apple products
  13. Jodiuh macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2009
    Can you link those earbuds? I can’t use in ear tones anymore.
  14. iLLUMI macrumors 6502

    Aug 1, 2012
    Why is it that Apple only think they need to make white ones?
    They have multi colored iPhones etc but only one color of Air Pods?
    Silver ones would look cool.
    Gold ones would too.
    Black Air Pods would be perfect for those who don't like them to stand out.

    I think Apple just want everyone to see them hanging out of peoples ears. They want us to advertise them .. for free. Sneaky!
  15. WBRacing, Dec 27, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017

    WBRacing macrumors 6502a


    Nov 19, 2012
    Black ones I would definitely consider as so many people rave about them. Would love to give them a try.

    The white ones though are a big fat no. They look awful to me and frankly are laughable coming from the company that is heralded by many as the leader of aesthetic design. If any other manufacturer had come out with them (and if the S8 had "the notch") it would be vitriol pouring out of this forum, not praise.

    I can reference any comment ever made on this forum about the Moto360 watch, should proof of this double standard be required.
  16. Scottkramm macrumors newbie

    Dec 27, 2017
    You don’t swipe up anymore to access control center
  17. mlody macrumors 6502a

    Nov 11, 2012
    Windy City
    few other notes after playing with my brand new AirPods

    - you can rename them which is nice
    - I found out that Siri understands percentages when setting up volume - otherwise when you say Siri lower or raise the volume she will only do it by 1 level (dot), but if you say set the volume to 75% or 50%, she will do that - much easier and faster.
    - also my 2010 imac has some problems with connecting to them, but my wife's 2015 MBP doesn't. Also my wife's MBP shows more details such if the airpod case is open or closed etc - I am guessing that is related to the Bluetooth version between the two systems

    Otherwise, I am pretty impressed and wished I got them earlier instead of waiting till now.
  18. sinsin07 macrumors 68040

    Mar 28, 2009
    Nothing to worry about there.
    Way more way out stuff than Airpods, that people got used to:
    Beer bellies
    Jelly rolls
    Skinny jeans
    Multicolored hair
    Multiple face piercings
    Neck or face tattoos
    Stretch pants stretched to bursting
    Pajama pants in supermarkets
    Goofy looking sneakers
    Salt stained Uggs​
    Just to name a few.

    Or any of the wonderful people here:
    People of Walmart
  19. MjWoNeR macrumors 6502


    Feb 16, 2010
    You can see the battery percentage of the AirPods’ case with the widget too.
  20. tridley68 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 28, 2014
    i agree totally got some from best buy just before xmas they will be going back if you like alot of highs in your music then these are for you very poor bass looks like i will be getting the Bang and Olsen buds instead.
  21. psac macrumors 6502a


    Jul 6, 2009
    For sure the controls on the Apple Watch help incredibly. I use them all the time. My biggest gripe on the airpods themselves are the lack of a volume control, even with the controls on the phone and the Siri voice controls. It's more of an annoyance than anything, but I hope the next gen (or a software update) does come with some way to control it. Something like single tap to lower, triple tap to increase volume would be fine.
  22. SSandy macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2009
    Have iOS 11 on my iPhone X (as expected) but do not see the Left/Right option in the tap menu. Something I need to do to see this? Tried "forgetting" the AirPods and reconnecting. Can the firmware on the AirPods be updated?

    Any help appreciated.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 27, 2017 ---
    I'll answer my own question. It appears that my AirPods are stuck in firmware version 3.5.1 because my wife's AirPods are in 3.7.2 and present the Right/Left option. I followed instructions for updating firmware from Apple but no go so far. I assume it will just take time.
  23. anshuvorty macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2010
    California, USA
    Must be my ears, which sucks. I can't leave these earbuds in for more than 30 minutes otherwise my ears become sore. I have to switch the Left one and Right one in and out all the time! Frustrating.

    Also tried using the EarHooks and similar products, but the inconvenience of having to take them off just to charge the buds is too much for me.

    Wish I had bigger ear holes then these buds would fit in snug and not give me soreness!
  24. JamesBrock macrumors newbie

    Sep 14, 2011
    Less than 5% of all iPhone users have the iPhone X. That means 95%+ iPhone users do swipe up to access control center
  25. ManicMarc macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2012
    Small correction: in the AirPods settings, the option “Off” actually means that you want the double tap to do nothing - not stop what is currently playing. This makes sense because otherwise they would’ve called it “stop“ not “off“ I guess.

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