Apple AirPods complete guide: Hidden tricks and tips to get started with

Everything you need to know about Apple's hearable and the new generation
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Apple AirPods may not be the smartest wireless earbuds you can buy in 2019, but they've certainly proved the most popular since first launching two years ago – and there's now AirPods 2 to explore.

For many owners taking the toothbrush head-looking AirPods out of the box for the first time, it can be tough to know where to get started. How to use, clean and connect them are all normal questions to ask when you first buy a pair for yourself.

And that's why we're here, to provide a one-stop guide for all your Apple AirPods queries. Read on for hidden tips and tricks to get started with.

Just announced: Apple AirPods 2

The first-gen Apple AirPods proved wildly successful, even by Apple's lofty standards. You only need to walk down a city street to see how any original concerns over design or price have quickly been quelled since launch.

But what about the next generation? Well, we now know all the details behind the new AirPods 2. There aren't wholesale changes, but there is a new H1 processor – powering 50% more talk time and hands-free Siri control – and a new Wireless Charging Case that's compatible with Qi charging mats.

Head over to our Apple AirPods 2 explainer to learn more about the new generation.

What are Apple AirPods?

AirPods are Apple's wireless earbuds, ones that are able to connect to any Bluetooth-compatible device. They're sold separately to iOS devices, unlike the wired Apple EarPods, and can be used to listen to audio, make or take calls or talk to Apple's digital assistant, Siri.

How much AirPods cost - and where to buy them

Interested in the AirPods but not sure where the best place is to buy them from?

Well, Apple AirPods 2 have now officially replaced the old generation, and still cost if you're buying them with the standard charging case. However, if you want the fancy new Wireless Charging Case along with it, you're going to have to pay a little bit extra – . For old AirPods owners, the Wireless Charging Case can also be bought separately for .

However, the wireless earbuds can now also be bought on Amazon through Apple, too, as shown below. Demand is extremely strong – and we expect that theme to continue with AirPods 2 – so there may sometimes be the odd delay on stock, but the retailer is reliable and has even run the occasional (very small) discount on the AirPods.

How to use AirPods

The neat thing about AirPods is that they work straight out of the box. Once you're connected to a phone, tablet or your computer, all you need to do is take them out the charging case, put them in your ears and they'll automatically connect.

If you want to pause the audio, simply take one AirPod out. And if you want to stop the audio entirely, you just need to take them both out. Sound can be adjusted manually through the iPhone or the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch, and you can also use the Control Center on your iOS device to adjust where sound is played.

And through the new generation, you can now also enlist Siri without raising your hand to your ear. Just saying "Hey Siri" will wake the digital assistant, and from there you can control your listening and, y'know, get updates on the weather.

Troubleshooting? Reset your AirPods

Apple AirPods complete guide: Hidden tricks and tips to get started with

Now and again, you may find yourself struggling to connect your AirPods - or you're trying to troubleshoot a different issue. Usually, the best way to resolve any issue with your AirPods is by resetting them.

Here's the four steps needed to reset them:

1. On your iOS device, go to Settings > Bluetooth, hit the 'i' icon on the right and then 'Forget This Device'. Tap confirm.

2. Your connection history is now no more, so place AirPods in the charging case, close the lid and count to 30. Once you're there, open the lid back up.

3. Hold the button on the back of the case until the status light flashes orange and then holds a white color. This indicates AirPods are ready to charge again.

4. Reconnecting your AirPods will be the same as before, and will vary depending on the kind of device you're trying to connect. See below for tips on pairing.

Pair and connect Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods complete guide: Hidden tricks and tips to get started with

Whether you want to connect AirPods to a MacBook, PC, tablet or smartphone, the only thing you need to check is whether it's compatible with Bluetooth. If it is, pairing AirPods is extremely simple – and even quicker with AirPods 2.

The AirPods will immediately latch onto your iOS device when taken out of the case (providing Bluetooth is turned on), showing the pop up screen that allows you to connect the two forevermore.

On a Mac, you'll have to press and hold the pairing button on the back of the case, go to the Bluetooth settings menu on your computer and hit pair. This same practice can be repeated for Android smartphones or tablets, or PCs – but read our guide on how to connect AirPods for all the steps.

Clean your dirty AirPods

The AirPods will very quickly become something you won't leave the house without, and the instant pairing means you'll find yourself using them in instances when you wouldn't have previously bothered with the hassle of untangling your old earphones.

But anything you use so often will naturally need cleaning from time to time – especially a device so susceptible to ear debris.

Of course, you can't just run these things under the tap. In order to clean your AirPods, make sure you use a soft, dry and lint-free cloth and use a cotton swab to get inside the microphone and speaker mesh. Obviously, don't try and enlist the help of any sharp objects or liquid - otherwise you could end up sad and, y'know, AirPod-less.

Battery life: How long AirPods last

Apple AirPods complete guide: Hidden tricks and tips to get started with

Knowing just how long AirPods last is key to knowing when to stick them back in for a rest and when to connect the charging case for a full reboot. And in this regard, the the wireless buds can last for a considerable distance.

From our testing, we've found that you can get 3-5 hours on a single charge, with that extending to 24 hours of charge with the help of the standard case or new Wireless Charging Case. Obviously, this means you'll have to take breaks if you want to keep them in for an entire shift at work, but those using them for their daily commute should rarely see the battery dip below 50%.

You can also keep an eye on this by looking at the control centre of the iOS device the AirPods are connected to.

What to do if you lose AirPods

AirPods are easy to misplace, let's face it. However, if you have iOS 10.3 (or later) installed, the Find My iPhone feature can be used to see where AirPods have got to (though, not the charging case). Here's how to go about using it, either through iCloud or the app. Head over to our full guide for more details - including tips on how to find your AirPods if they're offline.

On iCloud:

1. Head to iCloud and sign in with the Apple ID associated with your AirPods.

2. Open Find iPhone.

3. Click All Devices, then tap through to AirPods.

On Find My iPhone:

1. Open the Find My iPhone app.

2. Sign in with the Apple ID associated with your AirPods.

3. Tap AirPods.

How we test

Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

Related stories