Since the introduction of the AirPods back in December 2016, the premium wireless earbuds have grown in popularity. It’s easy to see why too; the AirPods boast great audio quality, a comfortable fit, decent battery life, Siri support and, let’s be honest, since Apple ditched the headphone jack, AirPods provide the easiest way to listen to music on an iPhone.

But while the AirPod setup process is incredibly fast and simple when connecting the earbuds to your iPhone for the first time, the same can’t be said for Mac – whether that’s an iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. The good news is that it is possible to connect your AirPods to your MacBook, but it may require a bit of a workaround.

Don’t fret; here, we explain all you need to know about connecting AirPods to a MacBook, including a handful of troubleshooting tips if it doesn’t work the first time around.

Connecting AirPods to a MacBook

As with most Apple-engineered products, the setup and connection process between your AirPods and MacBook is fairly streamlined – though not quite as much as if you were connecting AirPods to an iPhone or iPad, due to the varying technology available in MacBooks and desktop Macs (we assume, anyway!).

But before we delve deeper into the process, we must first establish whether you’ve already set your AirPods up with an iPhone. If the answer is yes, and your MacBook is signed in to the same Apple ID as your iPhone, chances are your AirPods will already be available for use with your Mac – no extra setup required.

To test whether this is the case, simply pop your AirPods into your ears and select the Bluetooth icon on the menu bar of your MacBook. If AirPods do appear on the list of devices, simply click on them to connect.

But more often than not, even AirPods that have been paired with an iPhone won’t appear in the list of Bluetooth devices – what are you to do in this scenario? Thankfully, it’s as easy as pressing a button. If you’re struggling to pair and connect your AirPods to your MacBook, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar on your MacBook and make sure that Bluetooth is active.
  2. From the same drop-down menu, select Open Bluetooth Preferences.
  3. With your AirPods in the charging case, flip open the lid.
  4. Press and hold the button on the rear of the case until the case status light (located under the lid of the case) flashes white.
  5. You should see your AirPods appear on the list of Bluetooth devices on your Mac – click Connect to establish a connection.

Give it a few seconds, and your AirPods should successfully connect to your MacBook! You’re now ready to enjoy the freedom of wireless earbuds.

Why won’t my AirPods connect to my MacBook?

While the above instructions should successfully pair your AirPods with your MacBook, there are a couple of issues that some owners have experienced and complained about – especially when reconnecting once the initial pairing has been successful. If you’ve got issues connecting your AirPods to your MacBook, go through the following troubleshooting options:

Are your AirPods connected to your iPhone?

Despite Apple claiming that AirPods can connect to multiple devices at once for seamless input switching, it doesn’t always work flawlessly and will sometimes refuse to connect to additional devices.

It has happened to members of the Macworld UK team in the past, and while it’s frustrating, temporarily disabling Bluetooth on the iPhone should allow the AirPods to connect to your MacBook without any further issues.

Make sure to do this by going to Settings > Bluetooth and disabling Bluetooth instead of using the Control Centre shortcut. Why? The Control Centre shortcut won’t completely disable Bluetooth, and will still allow connections to Apple-branded devices like your Apple Watch and AirPods.

Out of battery?

While this may seem obvious, but it’s worth checking if your AirPods have any charge left. You can do this by flipping open the carry case and looking at the indicator LED – if it doesn’t light up, the battery case (and probably the AirPods) are dead. Give them a charge via a Lightning cable and try again!

AirPods are completely unresponsive

If you’ve tried everything else and your AirPods are essentially unresponsive, you can always ‘factory reset’ the earphones and set them up from scratch – hopefully without the same issue appearing.