AirPods work like regular wireless headphones on devices outside of the Apple ecosystem. While the audio quality is top-notch on any device, you may encounter some obstacles when connecting AirPods to third-party devices.
This guide will walk you through 9 troubleshooting steps to try if AirPods won’t connect to your computer. We recommend connecting another Bluetooth audio device to your computer before proceeding. This will help identify the source of the problem.
If other Bluetooth devices connect to your computer without issue, the problem is most likely with your AirPods. But if your PC fails to connect to all Bluetooth devices, focus on troubleshooting to fix your PC’s Bluetooth.
Note: Although the screenshots in this article are from Windows 11 PCs, the recommendations will work on older versions of Windows, especially Windows 10.
1. Turn On Bluetooth
AirPods (and other Bluetooth devices) won’t connect to your computer if Bluetooth is disabled. Check your PC settings and make sure Bluetooth is turned on.
Go to Settings> Bluetooth & Devices and turn Bluetooth on.
If Bluetooth is already on your PC, turn it off, wait a few seconds, turn it back on, and then try connecting your AirPods again.
2. Check AirPods Battery Level
Your AirPods won’t connect to or connect to your computer if the headphone batteries are low. Check your AirPods battery and make sure it’s at least 50% charged. You will need an Apple device (iPhone, iPad, or Mac) to check the battery level of your AirPods.
Connect AirPods to your iPhone, place both AirPods in the charging case, and close the lid. Bring AirPods close to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and open the lid. The AirPods battery status should be displayed on your device’s screen after a few seconds.
Charge your AirPods with Apple-certified charging accessories and try plugging them back into your computer.
3. Force Reboot Your AirPods (Max)
Restarting your AirPods Max will fix sound and connection issues. If your AirPods Max won’t connect to your computer, force restarts your AirPods and reconnect your headphones to your computer.
Press and hold the Noise Control Button and Digital Crown until the Status LED flashes amber.
Factory reset your AirPods Max (see the next section for instructions) if the problem persists.
4. Reset Your AirPods
This entails removing the AirPods from your device’s memory and reconnecting it from scratch. If AirPods are connected to your computer but can’t connect later, forget about AirPods and reconnect.
Open the Windows Settings app, select Bluetooth & Devices in the sidebar, then select Devices.
Scroll down to the Audio section, select the three-dot menu icon next to AirPods and select Remove Device.
Go to Settings, select Bluetooth & Devices from the sidebar, turn on Bluetooth, and click the Add Device button.
Select “Yes” when prompted for confirmation.
Return to the Bluetooth & Devices page (Settings> Bluetooth & Devices) and select Add Device.
The next step is to put the AirPods into pairing mode and reconnect to your computer.
Insert both AirPods into the charging case, close the lid, and reopen it after 5-10 seconds. Then press and hold the setting button on the back of the charging case until the status light flashes white.
If you are using AirPods Max, press and hold the noise control button and digital wheel head for 15 seconds until the status light flashes amber and then white. Apple recommends charging your AirPods Max for a few minutes before doing a factory reset.
Select your AirPods from the list of devices.
Note that it may take a few minutes for your computer to detect the AirPods. Select Done when you receive the success message “Your device is ready to use.”
Make sure the AirPods are in close proximity to your PC in pairing mode. If your AirPods remain undetected, close and reopen the charging case and put the AirPods back into pairing mode. Try the next fix if Windows doesn’t find your AirPods.
5. Start Background Bluetooth Services
Bluetooth Help Desk and Bluetooth User Service are background processes that make it easier to discover Bluetooth devices and make Bluetooth function properly in Windows. Your computer will not detect or connect to AirPods or other Bluetooth devices if these services are inactive or disabled. Check Windows Service Manager and make sure they are both running.
Press Windows Key + R to open the Run Windows window. Type or paste services.msc into the dialog box and click OK.
Search for Bluetooth support, check the Status column, and make sure it says In Progress. Otherwise, double-click the services and go to the next step to start them.
Select “Start”, wait for the service to start and click “OK” to save your changes.
6. Run the Windows Troubleshooter
It is a built-in tool that diagnoses and fixes Bluetooth related problems in Windows. Run the troubleshooter if you’re having trouble connecting AirPods or other Bluetooth devices to your computer.
Enter “Troubleshoot” in the Windows search box and “Troubleshoot” in the search results.
Select “Other troubleshooters”.
Find on the Bluetooth page and select “Run.”
The troubleshooter will find and fix any Bluetooth-related issues. Close the Bluetooth troubleshooter and try connecting AirPods to your computer.
7. Reboot Your Computer
The problem may be with your computer. Close all open applications and restart your computer. This will update Windows and fix temporary system glitches preventing your AirPods from connecting to your computer.
Press the Windows key or the Start menu icon, select the Power icon and select Restart.
8. Update Bluetooth and AirPods Driver
The latest driver is required to connect AirPods and other Bluetooth accessories to your computer. Connect your computer to the Internet and follow these steps to update the Bluetooth drivers for AirPods and Windows.
Press Windows Key + X or right-click the Start menu and select Device Manager from the shortcut menu.
Expand the Bluetooth category, right-click the Bluetooth driver on your PC and select Update Driver.
If your AirPods are connected to your PC, right-click the AirPod driver and select Update Driver.
Select “Search Automatically for Drivers”.
If the update agent reports that you have the best driver installed, visit your PC manufacturer’s website for driver updates.
9. Update Your Computer
Bluetooth connection problems are sometimes caused by system-level errors. Go to the Windows update menu and install any update available for your computer. Updating your computer’s operating system can save you any error causing connection problems.
Go to Settings> Windows Update and select Download Now to install the available updates.
Get Connected, Stay Connected
AirPods may not connect to your computer if it is being used by another device (smartphone or computer). To avoid connection conflicts, turn off Bluetooth on other nearby devices before connecting to a computer.