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How to connect to your AirPods for the first time

Get those new AirPods up and running

Apple AirPods

If you’ve invested in a pair of true wireless earbuds – singular earphones that don’t use cables to connect to your phone, or each other – chances are you’ve gone for the Apple AirPods or the newly released AirPods Pro.

Not everyone was sure about the AirPods’ wire-free design when they first launched, but now there’s no doubt they’ve taken hold as a staple Apple product for style-conscious listeners. We’ve seen plenty of competition, though, with the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM3 blowing all the other models out of the water – and you can see our full list of AirPod alternatives in our best true wireless earbuds guide.

If you’re sat down with your brand new AirPods, though, here are the few simple steps you need to go through to get them up and running.

AirPods can be used with both Android and iOS devices – if you're connecting to an iPhone though, you should only need to do steps 1-2 before a prompt comes up on screen for connection. (Thank you, Apple.)

1. Charge your AirPods

Which headphones style is best for you?

Check out TechRadar's exhaustive guides to the best headphones, including the best over-ear headphones, best on-ear headphones and the best in-ear headphones.

For some more specialist pairs, take a look at our guides to the best wireless headphones, best true wireless earbuds, best wireless earbuds, and the best noise-cancelling headphones.

Need a specific brand? We have guides to the best Sony headphones, the best Bose headphones, and the best Audio-Technica headphones.

Looking for some headphones you can work out with? Check out our guide to the best swimming headphones and the best running headphones

You’ll need some charge before you start listening. The underside of the case has a Lightning connector for charging the case, which can hold eight hours of charge alongside the four hours of charge per AirPod (so, 12 hours total). The pin-point LED light inside the case will glow green when you’ve hit full battery.

2. Turn on your Bluetooth

Next, make sure Bluetooth is enabled whatever device you’re trying to connect to, so you can transmit audio wirelessly. There’s usually a Bluetooth shortcut from the top of your smartphone or desktop, though can head via your Settings too.

3. Activate AirPods pairing

This might trip you up: to connect your AirPods to your smartphone, laptop or other streaming device, you need to make sure the two earbuds are inside the white charging case the AirPods come in.

Then turn over the AirPods charging case. See that little white circle? That’s the pairing button. Hold that down until the status light inside the case flashes amber before turning white.

4. Finish pairing

On your smartphone or laptop, head to ‘Pair new device’ – though this may be phrased slightly different on different operating systems – and select the AirPods.

You’re now connected! Next all you have to do is pick an audio source, open up a podcast, audiobook or YouTube video, or start making hands-free calls to start hearing that true wireless audio. The world is your oyster.

Henry St Leger
Henry St Leger

Henry is TechRadar's News & Features Editor, covering the stories of the day with verve, moxie, and aplomb. He's spent the past three years reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as well as gaming and VR – including a stint as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.