How to Set Up and Use ‘Find My AirPods’

Woman Holding AirPods Pro on iPhone 11 Pro Credit: Hadrian / Shutterstock
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You probably already know about Apple’s Find My iPhone feature, which has been around for years to help reunite users with their lost iPhones, and even other things like stolen cars in some cases. What you may not realize is that Apple has extended this feature to help you locate your AirPods in the event that they go missing, and although the feature isn’t as sophisticated as Find My iPhone, it can still help you track down your AirPods if you’ve misplaced them somewhere.

Although Apple’s AirPods are incredibly advanced wireless earbuds, they don’t contain any cellular or Wi-Fi radio hardware, which means that you won’t be able to use Find My AirPods to actively locate them unless they’re within Bluetooth range of your iPhone, although Apple will helpfully record where you were the last time your AirPods were connected, which could help you figure out where they are if you think you left them behind somewhere.

Setting It Up

There’s actually nothing you need to do to setup the Find My AIrPods feature; as long as you have Find My iPhone activated on your iPhone, Find My AirPods will automatically be enabled as soon as you pair up your new AirPods or AirPods Pro.

That said, by default your AirPods are given a device name of “(Your First Name) AirPods” (or “AirPods Pro”), and this is how they will appear in Apple’s Find My app. However, if you want to customize this, you can easily do so with a trip into the Bluetooth settings on your iPhone.

  1. Make sure your AirPods are connected to your iPhone — either open the case or put them on your ears
  2. Go to the Settings app on your iPhone
  3. Tap Bluetooth
  4. From the list of devices, tap the “i” next to your AirPods
  5. Tap the “Name” field and type in whatever you want.

Once you do this, your AirPods will be shown in the Find My app using this name instead.

Using Find My AirPods

To locate your AirPods, open Apple’s Find My app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac and then tap the “Devices” button at the bottom. This will open up a list of all of the devices that you have Find My enabled on, including your AirPods or AirPods Pro.

Tapping on your AirPods or AirPods Pro in this list will take you to a screen where you can see their current or last known location, along with a button that will allow you to play a sound in order to help you locate them.

If your AirPods are connected when you tap Play Sound, they should both immediately begin emitting a high-pitched chirping noise for two minutes to help you locate them, gradually getting louder as time goes by. You’ll also see a new set of options that will let you control whether the sound should be played through only the left or right AirPod or both of them. This can be useful if you suspect a misplaced AirPod is somewhere nearby, but aren’t sure exactly where it is.

However, if your AirPods are out of range when you tap the Play Sound button, Find My will instead queue up the sound to play the next time the AirPods are reconnected to any of your paired devices. In addition to playing the sound when the AirPods do reconnect, you’ll also get a notification from Find My letting you know that they’re nearby so that you can start listening for them.

So while, unlike Find My iPhone, this feature won’t be much help if your AirPods have been completely lost or stolen, it can definitely help you figure out where you last had them. Sadly, there is one more caveat here, however — since your AirPods don’t connect to your iPhone when they’re in the charging case, Find My will show you the last location where you used your AirPods, which may not necessarily be the last place that you had them.

Looking Forward

Sadly, while Apple’s been cleverly expanding its Find My feature to locate even offline devices, it doesn’t seem to have added this “crowdsourcing” technology to the AirPods yet. This means that you will only be able locate your AirPods if your iPhone or iPad is within proximity — other nearby iOS devices can’t pick up your AirPods in order to help you locate them.

That said, however, there’s a lot of evidence that suggests that Apple will be introducing its AirTags soon, which are tracking tags similar to those made by Tile that would provide this kind of offline finding capability from the worldwide network of iPhones. While today’s AirPods don’t appear to have this technology built in — if it’s hiding in there, it’s disabled and nobody has seen any evidence of it — it’s a safe bet that future AirPods will include AirTag technology to help users locate them under a much wider set of conditions.

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