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How to pair AirPods or AirPods Pro with Windows 10

AirPods might be well-known for their easy setup on iOS, but it’s not much harder to set them up on Windows.

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Pairing AirPods or AirPods Pro with a PC may not be as utterly simple as with an iOS device, but it’s only marginally harder. You just connect the earbuds via Bluetooth—a straightforward, fast process in Windows 10. Just follow our steps below and you’ll be off and running.

Do note, however, that as an Apple product, AirPods and AirPod Pros lose some functionality in Windows. They work well for listening to audio, but fall quite short of microphone quality you’d get on iOS or macOS. So while Apple’s earbuds can handle Zoom calls in a pinch, we’d steer clear of them as your main Windows headset.

How to pair AirPods or AirPods Pro with Windows 10

First, make sure your AirPods are fully charged with both earbuds in the case, and the lid is shut. Also confirm your Windows 10 PC is capable of running Bluetooth devices. (The overwhelming majority of modern laptops have Bluetooth built-in, as do pre-built desktop PCs from vendors like Dell and HP.) If your system lacks support, you can buy an inexpensive dongle like this TP-Link one Remove non-product link to add that feature.

  1. Open the Settings app in Windows 10. You can find it by typing Settings in the Windows 10 search bar and selecting the app once it appears. Its icon looks like a cog. Alternatively, you can press the Windows key + I at the same time.
  2. In the Settings menu, choose Devices.
  3. The Bluetooth & other devices page will pop up. First, make sure that Bluetooth is turned on by checking the toggle near the top of the page. If it isn’t, flip it on.
  4. Select Add Bluetooth or other device.
  5. The Add a device menu will pop up, asking you which kind of device you’d like to pair with. Select Bluetooth.
  6. Grab your AirPods or AirPods Pro and open the lid.
  7. Hold down the circular button on the back of your AirPods for around three to eight seconds. The charging light on your AirPods will eventually start pulsing white. When this happens, lift your finger and look back up at the Add a device menu.
  8. Be patient. It might take a couple of seconds for the AirPods to appear. When they do, they’ll likely appear as “Headphones” at first and then Windows 10 will load them as “AirPods Pro” (or whatever name you gave them on iOS, if you have an iPhone or iPad you previously used them with). Select them.
  9. You’ll get a notification saying, “Your device is ready to go!”

Leif Johnson / IDG

Hold the button on the back of your AirPods or AirPods Pro to put them into pairing mode.

Your AirPods should immediately become your default listening device. When you put them back into your case, Windows 10 will automatically revert to the last audio device you used.

How to reconnect or disconnect AirPods with your PC

Your AirPods should automatically start working with your PC once you put them back in your ears. If they don’t, you can connect them manually.

  1. Open the Settings app in Windows 10.
  2. Select Devices.
  3. Scroll down to the Audio section and select your AirPods.
  4. In the prompt that pops up, press Connect. Your AirPods should now work.

You can also use these same steps to disconnect your AirPods from your PC if you want to use them with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac you’ve previously paired them with. Just keep in mind that you’ll now need to manually connect your AirPods through the Bluetooth menus on those devices while your AirPods are still paired with your Windows PC.

Keep in mind that you might have to scroll down a bit in order to see the Audio section.

How to unpair your AirPods from your Windows 10 PC

Permanently unpairing your AirPods involves a similar series of steps as reconnecting them, but with a single difference.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Press Devices.
  3. Scroll down to the Audio section and select your AirPods.
  4. In the prompt that pops up, press Remove device.

Pairing AirPods with a Windows PC is fast and easy—but be aware they don't deliver exactly the same experience as on iOS and macOS.

How Do I Connect AirPods to a Windows PC?

I’m going to cheat a little bit for this week’s Tech 911 Q&A at Lifehacker. I didn’t get this question sent in via email, as is typical, but I was asked it by a friend, since AirPods Pro are the talk of the town this week thanks to Apple’s big iOS 14 / iPadOS 14 update.

I’ll paraphrase my friend, who basically asked a simple query that’s probably on a number of peoples’ minds: How the heck do I use AirPods with Windows?

Here’s the good news: It’s easy. It’s unconventional—or, at least, it might feel that way, since AirPods are typically easiest to configure and use within Apple’s ecosystem. It is possible though, just don’t tell Tim that you’re trying them out on that other platform.

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To get started, make sure your AirPods are hanging out in their charging case. On your Windows PC, click on the Start Menu and pull up the Settings app. Click on “Devices,” and then make sure Bluetooth is enabled on your Windows desktop or laptop.

Next, click on “Add Bluetooth or other device,” and select “Bluetooth” in the screen that appears. While your Windows PC searches for new Bluetooth devices, grab your AirPods charging case, open it up, and hold the button on the back, below the hinge, until you see a white light start blinking. (Once you do, let go.)

Soon, you should see said AirPods pop up on the list of available devices. When they do, click on them.

They should connect almost immediately:

Click on “Done” to exit the window, and then pop your AirPods in your ears and give them a whirl. Once you’re done rocking out, and assuming you want to use them with your iPad, iPhone, or Mac again, you’ll need to go into that device’s Bluetooth menu to reestablish the connection.

(If you have iOS 14, iPadOS 14, or macOS Big Sur and the latest AirPods Pro firmware , you’ll be able to “quick switch” between your Apple devices if you’re using the same Apple ID on each.)

To reconnect your AirPods with your Windows PC, pull up your Bluetooth menu in your taskbar, click on “Show Bluetooth devices,” select your AirPods once again, and click on “Connect.”

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Any settings you enable on your AirPods via your Apple devices (such as noise cancellation, transparency mode, or spatial audio) should persist when you connect your AirPods to a Windows PC. You won’t be able to change these settings, since there’s no option for you to do so in Windows, so you’ll have to re-connect them on your Apple device to make any adjustments.

That’s it! Yes, your AirPods are cross-platform, and it’s super convenient to use them with Windows if you’re, well, already using them for everything Apple.

Do you have a tech question keeping you up at night? Tired of troubleshooting your Windows or Mac? Looking for advice on apps, browser extensions, or utilities to accomplish a particular task? Let us know! Tell us in the comments below or email [email protected] .

David Murphy is Lifehacker’s Senior Technology Editor. He has geeked out writing for The New York Times, Wirecutter, PC Magazine, Reviewed, Computer Shopper, and PCWorld. www.thedavidmurphy.com

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DISCUSSION

“Any settings you enable on your AirPods via your Apple devices (such as noise cancellation, transparency mode, or spatial audio) should persist when you connect your AirPods to a Windows PC. You won’t be able to change these settings, since there’s no option for you to do so in Windows, so you’ll have to re-connect them on your Apple device to make any adjustments.”

I’ve never tried it specifically with a Windows pairing, but won’t the Airpod’s own controls solve this? Press and hold on one of the Airpods until you hear a chime and it will toggle between Transparency and Nois e Cancellation.

Not sure if they implemented a way to toggle Spatial Audio via the Airpods themselves, but that setting seems less likely to need toggled on a regular basis (and might not even matter if Spatial Audio support needs iOS14/iPadOS14/BigSur)

I’m going to cheat a little bit for this week’s Tech 911 Q&A at Lifehacker. I didn’t get this question sent in via email, as is typical, but I was asked it by a friend, since AirPods Pro are the talk of the town this week thanks to Apple’s big iOS 14/iPadOS 14 update.