8 ways to troubleshoot when one of your AirPods isn't working

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8 ways to troubleshoot when one of your AirPods isn't working
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
  • If one AirPod isn't working by not connecting or playing audio, there are many possible problems, but they're all easy to check.
  • Some of the simplest troubleshooting steps include switching Bluetooth on and off, making sure both AirPods are evenly charged, and cleaning the speaker mesh.
  • Here are eight things to check if one of your AirPods refuses to connect.
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AirPods are great, except when they fail to work properly. And a surprisingly common glitch that many AirPod owners experience is also one that's relatively easy to fix: One AirPod doesn't work, so you only get audio in the right or left ear.

What to do when one of your AirPods is not working

Unfortunately, when one of your AirPods isn't working, it's hard to instantly point to a single reason for the failure. It could be a low battery, a software setting, or even a filthy speaker mesh in one of the earbuds. To solve your connection problem, investigate each of these troubleshooting tips to find what fixes your AirPods.

Toggle the Bluetooth connection

When one of your AirPods won't connect, it's often smart to troubleshoot by starting with the easiest fixes first. Sometimes, there's a software glitch that can be solved just by turning Bluetooth off and then on again - when it comes back on, both earbuds will connect normally. On your iPhone or iPad, start the Settings app. Tap Bluetooth and then swipe the Bluetooth button to the left, then back to the right again.

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8 ways to troubleshoot when one of your AirPods isn't working
Toggle Bluetooth off and on again to quickly try to correct an AirPods connection issue. Dave Johnson

The battery has died in one AirPod

This happens more frequently than you might expect: The batteries in your AirPods run down at different rates, and one dies before the other, which is why only one of them appears to be working. To check, put both AirPods in their charging case and bring the case very close to your iPhone. Then open the case and wait a few moments to see the battery level. If you need to, charge the AirPods for 30 to 60 minutes.

8 ways to troubleshoot when one of your AirPods isn't working
Check the battery level in your AirPods to see if one is run down before the other. Dave Johnson

Restart your iPhone

If turning Bluetooth off and back on again didn't fix the problem, it's possible that rebooting the entire device will do the trick. It only takes a couple of minutes, and sometimes flushing out the phone's memory and running software is all it takes to fix your audio. If you need a refresher, here's how to restart your iPhone and your iPad.

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Clean the AirPods

It's possible that both of the AirPods are working normally, but you can't hear audio through one of them because there's buildup on the speaker mesh. That sounds improbable, but it doesn't take a lot of gunk to mute the sound. With a few simple tools like a lint-free cloth, water, and a toothpick, you can clean your AirPods to restore their full sound.

Check your AirPod audio settings

Here's something most people aren't aware of: It's possible to configure your AirPods - intentionally or by accident - to only play audio in one ear. The trick is that you can control the stereo balance in your device's Accessibility settings.

1. Start the Settings app and choose Accessibility.

2. In the Hearing section, tap Audio/Visual.

3. In the Balance section, check the slider position. If it's not in the center, slide it back to restore balanced sound.

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8 ways to troubleshoot when one of your AirPods isn't working
You can find a stereo slider in Accessibility. Dave Johnson

Make sure your phone has the latest updates

While relatively unlikely, it's always possible that your AirPods could be experiencing a software glitch that can be fixed with the latest iOS update. If you need a refresher, here is how to make sure your iPhone is updated, and here is how to update your iPad.

Re-pair your AirPods

If none of the potential fixes have worked for you so far, there might be a problem with the way your AirPods are connected to your device, and it's time for more extensive measures: reset your AirPods to factory conditions and reconnect them.

1. Place the AirPods in their case and make sure they're charged.

2. Start the Settings app on and tap Bluetooth.

3. Find the AirPods in your list of devices and tap the i on the right.

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4. Tap Forget This Device, and confirm you want to do that by tapping Forget Device in the pop-up.

5. Press and hold the button on the back of the AirPods case for about 15 seconds until the status light flashes white and amber. Then let go of the button and follow the instructions to connect the AirPods to your iPhone.

Turn to Apple for support

If none of these troubleshooting tips worked, it's fairly likely the problem isn't something you can solve with software or a light cleaning - there may be a hardware glitch. In that case, you should contact Apple's support to see if the AirPods need to be repaired or replaced.

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