How To Find Your AirPods With Your iPhone

How To Find Your AirPods With Your iPhone
Photo: Adam Clark Estes/Gizmodo

You probably use your AirPods a lot, so you don’t want to misplace them. Apple has updated the AirPod tracking features available in the Find My app to enable you to track down missing earbuds or headphones even when they’re out of Bluetooth range — here’s how to make sure your Apple audio devices never get lost again.

These steps are slightly different depending on the model of AirPods you’re using, but there are options for all of them. As soon as you pair these devices to an iPhone, iPad or Mac connected to your Apple account and iCloud, their position is automatically logged in the Find My app (though you can disable this in the Find My app if you want).

How to set up the “Find My” app

Load up Find My on your iPhone, iPad or Mac and you should see your AirPods listed under the Devices tab — select them to see where they are on a map. If the AirPods have run out of battery or are otherwise offline, you’ll see their last known location. You can also get this same location via iCloud on the web.

See your AirPods on a map. (Screenshot: Apple)See your AirPods on a map. (Screenshot: Apple)

Should your AirPods not appear on the map, enable the Notify When Found toggle switch (under Notifications) and you’ll get pinged if and when they do make contact again. There’s no guarantee they will show up again, but this option saves you from having to load up Find My every ten minutes to see if your lost hardware has returned to the map.

If you’re using first-gen or second-gen AirPods, you’ll get a Directions button. This will guide you to the spot where your earbuds were last connected via Bluetooth — it’s not all that precise, but it works well enough. That’s as far as the functionality goes for the older versions of the AirPods though.

You’ll also see a Directions button if you’re trying to track down the third-gen AirPods, the AirPods Pro or the AirPods Max. However, these devices have an Ultra Wideband (UWB) chip in them, which means more accurate location tracking — as long as you also have an iPhone with UWB (so the iPhone 11 and later).

The power of Ultra Wideband. (Screenshot: Apple)The power of Ultra Wideband. (Screenshot: Apple)

If your iPhone and AirPods are UWB-ready, that enables a Find button inside the Find My app — it will track down your AirPods with more precision, in the same way that you might try and find an AirTag. Just follow the instructions on screen to locate your lost devices (if you need to, you can switch between the left and the right AirPod).

What if your lost AirPods aren’t near your phone?

That’s all well and good if you’ve lost your AirPods somewhere nearby, but what if they’re further afield? Again, the same technology used with AirTags is used here: Apple (anonymously and securely) enlists the help of every other iPhone on the planet to look for the signals that your AirPods are broadcasting.

Select your AirPods in Find My, scroll down the tab with the device information on it, and tap Activate under Mark As Lost. Tap Continue, and you can enter an email address or mobile number that will pop up on the screen of whoever finds your AirPods; you’ll also get a notification on your own device, together with their reported location. In lost mode, your AirPods are tied to your Apple ID, so no one else can use them.

Tap into the Find My network. (Screenshot: Apple)Tap into the Find My network. (Screenshot: Apple)

There are a couple of extra features worth talking about as well. On the options for your AirPods in Find My, you also get a Play Sound option — this is another way of discovering where your earbuds or headphones have got to, and it appears on the Find screen as well when you’re using UWB to track down missing devices.

How to never lose your AirPods again

It’s great that you can use your phone to find misplaced AirPods. But an even better solution is to never lose them again. To do that, Find My has a Notify When Left Behind option that you can turn on. This does exactly what you might imagine it does, sending an alert to your iPhone whenever it becomes separated from a connected pair of AirPods. Again, this is something you can do with AirTags if needed.

With all of these features combined, it should be reasonably difficult to ever lose your AirPods again. If you’d rather not have them tracked in this way, tap the Remove This Device button at the bottom of the AirPods entry in the Find My app: They’ll no longer appear on the map and you’ll no longer be able to track them down.