6 Fixes for AirPods Not Switching Routinely Between Apple Units

With the release of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and macOS Big Sur, Apple changed the way AirPods work by default significantly. Now whenever you make a call, play music, or watch a video on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, your AirPods should automatically connect to that device.

If your AirPods are having trouble switching devices on their own, here are tips that can help you fix it.

1. Make sure your AirPods are compatible

All AirPods models – with the exception of the original first generation AirPods – support automatic audio switching. If you're not sure what type of AirPods you're using (first and second generation AirPods look the same), you can use the model number to identify them.

Difference between Airpods 1 and 2

Here's how:

  1. Connect your AirPods to your iPhone or iPad.

  2. Open that the settings App.

  3. Choose Bluetooth.

  4. Tap the The information Icon next to your AirPods.

  5. Check Model no. When you see A1523 or A1722 You also have a pair of AirPods (1st generation) that don't support automatic audio switching.

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iPhone settings app

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Bluetooth settings

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AirPods model number

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When you see A2031 If you have a later model number, your AirPods will be compatible with auto audio switching. If so, continue with the rest of the fixes.

2. Update your system software

Your AirPods only automatically turn on devices that have at least iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and macOS Big Sur 11 or higher installed. Therefore, the next thing you should do is check the version of the system software on every iPad, iPhone, and Mac you own and update it if necessary.

Even if you have the latest critical update installed, it is best to apply all available incremental system software updates. This should fix any known bugs or issues that are preventing your AirPods from automatically switching between devices.

Update the system software on iPhone and iPad

Go to on the iPhone or iPad the settings > General > over. You should see the latest iOS or iPadOS version of your device next to it Software version.

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iPhone settings app

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General Settings

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Via the iPhone

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If you're on iOS 13 or earlier, go back to the previous screen and tap Software update. As long as your iPhone or iPad is compatible with iOS 14 / iPadOS 14 or higher, you should see an option here to update the system software.

Related: Can't Update Your iPhone or iPad? 8 ways to fix this

Update the system software on the Mac

Open that Apple Menu and choose About this Mac to identify the version of macOS installed on your Mac.

About this Mac

If you're still using macOS 10.15 Catalina or older, open that Apple Menu and go to System settings > Software update to update your Mac to at least macOS 11 Big Sur.

3. Confirm that you are using the same Apple ID

To use the AirPods automatic switching, you must be signed in to the same Apple ID on all Apple devices. If not, your AirPods won't automatically switch between them.

Check your Apple ID on iPhone and iPad

Open to confirm that you have the same Apple ID on your iPhone and iPad the settings and tap your profile portrait at the top of the list. Your Apple ID will be shown at the top of the following screen.

Use the Log out Option to sign out and sign in with the same Apple ID as the rest of the devices. We showed you how to reset your Apple ID password if you need to.

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iPhone settings app

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iPhone Apple ID

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Log out

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Check your Apple ID on the Mac

On your Mac, open the System settings App and select Apple ID. If you find a different Apple ID than expected, switch to overview Tab and use the Log out Option to log out of the device.

Then sign in again with the correct Apple ID that you use anywhere.

Apple ID - Mac

4. Activate the automatic audio switching

Each of your Apple devices has a specific setting that allows your AirPods to automatically switch to them. Make sure this is turned on on every iPhone, iPad, and Mac you own.

Enable automatic audio switching on iPhone and iPad

  1. Connect the AirPods to your iPhone or iPad.

  2. Open that the settings App and select Bluetooth.

  3. Tap the The information Icon next to your AirPods.

  4. Choose Connect to this iPhone.

  5. Choose Automatically.

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Bluetooth settings

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AirPods settings

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Automatic audio switching

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Enable automatic audio switching on the Mac

  1. Connect the AirPods to your Mac.

  2. Open that Apple Menu and choose System settings.

  3. Choose Bluetooth.

  4. Choose Options Button next to your AirPods.

  5. Open the menu next to Connect to this Mac and select Automatically.

  6. Choose Done to save your changes.

Automatic audio switching - Mac

5. Update the firmware of your AirPods

Your AirPods won't switch between Apple devices unless they're running firmware version 3A283 or higher. Usually, you don't have to worry about that as your AirPods update to the latest firmware themselves.

However, if you've just started using a new pair of AirPods, it's worth checking to see if these have been updated:

  1. Connect your AirPods to an iPhone or iPad.

  2. Open that the settings App and select General.

  3. Tap over.

  4. Tap your AirPods.

  5. Check Firmware version.

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General Settings

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Via the iPhone

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AirPods firmware version

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If you see an outdated version number (you can check the latest firmware version on the Wikipedia page for AirPods), you need to install the latest firmware on your AirPods. While there's no way to do this manually, it is possible to get your AirPods to update the firmware.

To do this, put your AirPods in the charging case or smart case and connect them to a power source. Then leave your iPhone next to your AirPods and try again after 15 to 30 minutes. Your AirPods' firmware should have been updated automatically in the meantime.

6. Reset your AirPods

If none of the above fixes worked, you'll need to reset your AirPods. Usually this should fix common AirPods issues that are preventing them from working normally. Note that this will reset the settings. Resetting shouldn't take long.

How to reset your AirPods:

  1. Put your AirPods in the charging case or smart case.

  2. Open the lid; Then press and hold the button on the back of the charging case for 15 seconds until the status light flashes from white to amber.

  3. If you're using a pair of AirPods Max, hold down both the noise-canceling button and the digital crown instead.

  4. Your AirPods are now reset. Go through the pairing process and reconnect them to your iPhone or iPad.

Pair AirPods

You don't have to reconnect your AirPods to each of your Apple devices as they should be automatically paired using your Apple ID.

AirPods work automatically

Auto audio switching is an amazing feature that eliminates the need to manually connect your AirPods to different devices by hand. Hopefully the troubleshooting methods outlined above helped you get it to work properly.

Now that you've set up your AirPods the way they should, you should also be familiar with the many great tips that can help you get the most out of them.

Photo credit: Pixabay / Pixabay

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About the author

Dilum Senevirathne
(1 article published)

Dilum Senevirathne is a freelance tech writer and blogger with over three years experience writing for online technology publications. He specializes in topics related to iOS, iPadOS, macOS, Windows and Google web applications. Besides MakeUseOf, you can read his work at Online Tech Tips, Helpdesk Geek, Guiding Tech, iPhone Hacks, and Switching to Mac.

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