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How to Connect AirPods to Your Windows PC or Laptop

Got Apple AirPods but don’t have an Apple computer? You probably picked up AirPods to use with your iPhone or iPad. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get them to work with other, non-Apple devices as well. If you want to know how to connect AirPods to your Windows PC or laptop, you’ve come to the right place.

Apple has designed three different models of AirPods true wireless headphones. Most are already on their 2nd or 3rd generation. All of them use Bluetooth. That means all of them can connect to Bluetooth-compatible computers, regardless of the brand or if they’re running Windows. And getting them paired up is simple. Once you do it, you’ll have it made.

What You Need to Pair AirPods to Windows PCs or Laptops

How to Connect AirPods to Your Windows PC or Laptop

Well, first, you need to have a pair of AirPods. These can be regular AirPods 2nd or 3rd generation, noise-canceling AirPods Pro 2nd generation, or the new over-ear AirPods Max.

You’ll also need to have a desktop or laptop computer running Windows. Your best bet is to be using Windows 10 or Windows 11. That’s because the AirPods might not be compatible with earlier operating systems, such as Windows 7 or XP.

Next, and this is crucial, you need to confirm that your computer supports Bluetooth. Many older models and some newer ones didn’t incorporate Bluetooth technology. So if you’re not already sure if your computer has Bluetooth, you’d better check first.

Here’s how to do it…

Click on the Start menu and then select Device Manager. If you don’t see this option, you can type “Device Manager” into the Windows search bar to get it to come up. Either way, this should open up a window that shows you all the different components that make up your computer.

There should be an entry for Bluetooth. If there is, you’re golden. But if your computer doesn’t support Bluetooth connections, you won’t be able to connect AirPods to your computer.

Or will you?

If your computer doesn’t support Bluetooth, all is not lost. There is a workaround so that you can still use Bluetooth devices on it. All you have to do is buy a Bluetooth receiver.

This is a tiny little USB dongle that can connect via Bluetooth to your AirPods or other Bluetooth devices like speakers and headsets. Once you plug in this receiver, it automatically turns on, and you can pair your AirPods with it. The other thing you need to connect your AirPods to your PC or laptop is power.

You need to have your AirPods charged up enough to make a connection…

If they’re out of juice, there’s no point in pairing them. You can use your phone to check their battery level. Or, just pop them in their charging case.

If the light on the case goes green or even orange, that means you have enough power to use them with your computer. But, if the light turns red, let them charge up first before making a connection. Now that you’ve got what you need, it’s time to connect your AirPods to your Windows computer.

How To Connect AirPods To Your Windows PC Or Laptop

With everything in place, it’s time to get connected. This process takes a few steps, as with everything Windows. But, if you follow these simple instructions, you should learn how to do it easily. After you’re successful once, you’ll be able to connect again easily.

These directions will work equally well for AirPods or AirPods Pro:

  1. To get started, put your AirPods in their charging case and close the lid. Then turn on Pairing Mode by pressing and holding the setup button on the back of the case. This will make the status light flash orange and then white. That means the AirPods are ready to pair.
  2. Now go to your computer. Click the Windows Start menu button and then select “Settings.”
  3. In Settings, click on “Bluetooth & Devices.”
  4. Within this menu, make sure that Bluetooth is turned on. You can toggle the slider to “On” if it’s not there already.
  5. Under the Bluetooth controller, you should see the word “Devices.” To the right of that will be a button that says “Add Device.” Click this to add your AirPods.
  6. In a new tab, you will be asked what type of device you’re adding. Select “Bluetooth.” This will open up a new tab that shows all the Bluetooth devices that are in range of your computer. Choose your AirPods from this list.
  7. It should only take a few seconds to receive a message telling you the connection is successful. Click “Done” because you’re finished – you just connected your AirPods to your Windows computer.
  8. Open up the case and put your AirPods in your ears. They will now be able to play audio from your computer.

How to Connect AirPods Max to Your Windows PC or Laptop

Since AirPods Max are large over-ear headphones, they don’t use a charging case like the AirPods or AirPods Pro. However, the method for connecting AirPods Max to your Windows computer is almost the same:

  1. To get started, you need to get your AirPods Max into Pairing Mode. Press and hold the noise control button for five seconds or until the status light starts flashing white. This light will let you know you’re in pairing mode.
  2. Now go to your computer. Click the Windows Start menu button and then select “Settings.”
  3. In Settings, click on “Bluetooth & Devices.”
  4. Within this menu, make sure that Bluetooth is turned on. You can toggle the slider to “On” if it’s not there already.
  5. Under the Bluetooth controller, you should see the word “Devices.” To the right of that will be a button that says “Add Device.” Click this to add your AirPods.
  6. In a new tab, you will be asked what type of device you’re adding. Select “Bluetooth.” This will open up a new tab that shows all the Bluetooth devices that are in range of your computer. Choose your AirPods Max from this list.
  7. It should take only a few seconds to receive a message telling you the connection is successful. Click “Done” because you’re finished – you just connected your AirPods Max to your Windows computer.
  8. Now you can simply put the AirPods Max on and use them to listen to your computer audio.

How to Disconnect AirPods from Your Windows PC or Laptop

How to Disconnect AirPods

That covers how to connect AirPods to your Windows PC or laptop. Next, you need to know how to do the opposite. Regardless of the model, the process for disconnecting AirPods from your Windows computer is the same. Here’s how to do it:

  1. On your computer, click the Windows Start menu button. Then select “Settings” as you did before.
  2. In Settings, click on “Bluetooth & Devices.”
  3. You should see that your AirPods are connected to your computer already. Find your AirPods and click the button with three dots (…).
  4. This will bring up a pop-up menu. On that menu, click “Remove Device.” Then confirm by clicking “Yes” when asked if you’re sure.

That’s it. Your AirPods will no longer be connected to your computer. Of course, turning your AirPods off or putting them in their case will also disconnect them from your Windows computer. But, the above steps remove the connection more permanently.

What if My AirPods Won’t Connect? – Troubleshooting

The process of pairing AirPods to your Windows computer is fairly straightforward. However, there are also several reasons why this might not work out as planned. Here are some of the main fixes to help with any hiccups along the way.

Disconnect other devices from Bluetooth

If you have used your computer to connect to other Bluetooth devices, those connections may still be confusing it. To make sure that you’re able to connect to your AirPods, turn off/remove other device connections that might be interfering.

Reset Bluetooth on Your AirPods

Yes, you guessed it! Try the old “turn it off and turn it back on again” trick. You can try this from both ends. Turn off Bluetooth on your Windows computer, and then turn it back on again. Also, you can try putting your AirPods back in their case and putting them back into Pairing mode by holding down the setup button.

Disconnect Your AirPods from Other Apple Devices

Apple devices like to stick together. They form very fast and reliable connections via Bluetooth. However, these might be constantly competing and blocking you from developing a stable connection with a Windows computer.

So, you should disconnect your AirPods from any Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, etc.). You can do this by going into that device’s settings and turning off Bluetooth. Alternatively, you can tell that device to “Forget” your AirPods. This should free up your AirPods for pairing with your computer.

Update Your AirPods

Update Your AirPods

If you have set your AirPods so that they don’t update automatically, you may have to do a manual firmware update to ensure they are working properly. Firmware is updated regularly and helps to remove bugs and make your AirPods function more efficiently.

To update firmware, put your AirPods or AirPods Pro into their charging case and plug the case into a charger. For AirPods Max, just plug them into a charger. Place your iPhone or iPad nearby and make sure they are connected to your AirPods by Bluetooth. When connected and charging, the firmware will be automatically updated.

Update Your Windows Computer

If you haven’t been using Bluetooth on your Windows PC or laptop a lot, your drivers could be out of date. This could prevent your computer from making solid connections with the most up-to-date devices, like a new pair of Apple AirPods. To update your driver, you can search for “Windows 10/11 Bluetooth driver update” or get an update from this site.

Be sure Bluetooth is turned on

You’d be surprised how often this is the problem. Just make sure that the Bluetooth slider is turned to “On” in your Windows menu.

Turn off Airplane Mode

All laptops these days have an “Airplane Mode.” This blocks all outside connections, including WiFi and Bluetooth. Sometimes, it will appear that your WiFi or Bluetooth is turned on. However, if Airplane Mode is also turned on, it will override and block these connections. So, ensure it’s off.

Troubleshoot the problem

If you’ve looked into all of the easy fixes that I’ve suggested, but nothing helps, try troubleshooting the problem. In Windows, you can open the Start menu and choose “Update and Security” (for Windows 10) or “System” (for Windows 11) and then choose “Troubleshoot.”

From the options menu, choose “Other Troubleshooters.” In the next menu, select “Bluetooth” and then run the troubleshooting program. This may take a while. But your computer will try to find any problems it might have with Bluetooth connections and will fix them if possible.

Hopefully, one of these fixes will work and allow you to use your AirPods with your Windows computer. However, be aware that you are unlikely to enjoy full functionality with your AirPods as you do when they’re linked to an Apple product. You may encounter problems using Siri, automatic in-ear detection, battery status, and other functions.

How to Use AirPods as a Headset

AirPods as a Headset

Many people will tell you that Apple AirPods can’t be used as a headset on a Windows computer. But this just isn’t true. As we’ve already seen, AirPods can be connected to Windows PCs and Laptops to play audio. And, while you might find that the microphones in them don’t work right away, this can be sorted out.

To use your AirPods’ built-in mics with a Windows computer, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Windows Start menu. Select “Settings.”
  2. Choose “Sound.”
  3. Choose “Output” and select your AirPods if they’re not already selected.
  4. Then go back to “Sound” and choose “Input.” Also, select your AirPods from the list. This will allow you to use the AirPods mic as your audio input device.

BAM! – you have yourself a headset, with the AirPods as both the input (mic) and output (speakers) device. You should now be able to use your AirPods for making calls and for gaming as with any other headset.

Need More Help With Your Apple AirPods?

If so, check out our guides on AirPods Blinking Orange? How to Fix ItAirPods Connected But No SoundHow to Make Your AirPods LouderCan I Use Two Different AirPodsSimple Tips to Keep AirPods From Falling Out, and How to Clean Your AirPods Pro for more useful information and tips.

Also, if you need new some new earbuds, take a look at our reviews of the Best AirPods Alternative, the Best Apple AirPods Pro Alternatives, the Best iPhone Earbuds, the Best Lightning Headphones for iPhone & iPad, the Best True Wireless Earbuds, and the Most Comfortable Earbuds you can buy in 2023.

How to Connect AirPods to Your Windows PC or Laptop – Final Thoughts

AirPods, AirPods Pro, and the new AirPods Max are all Bluetooth headphones. As such, they can connect to Windows computers in addition to Apple devices. You just need to follow the steps for making a connection, and you’ll be using them for computer audio (or as a full headset) in no time.

Of course, Apple products tend to prefer other Apple products. And this can get in the way of your connections. But, by turning off other Bluetooth connections and by keeping your computer and AirPods properly updated, you should be able to conquer any resistance.

Your AirPods should work with any Windows computer running Windows 10 or higher and make pretty darned good headphones for computer audio.

Until next time, good luck, and happy listening.

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