Apple’s AirPods are some of the most popular headphones ever produced, but that doesn’t mean they come without problems. If you’ve noticed that your $200 wireless headphones are a bit… trouble-prone, you aren’t alone.
If you’ve logged onto a Zoom or Facetime call and found your AirPods mic not working, a number of things could be wrong. Software issues, a failed Bluetooth connection, or physical damage may be to blame. But, don’t worry – most of these issues are easy to fix!
This brief guide will help you figure out what went wrong, and show you your options for fixing your AirPods microphone issues!
Why My AirPods Microphone Is Not Working
1. Low Batteries
When your AirPods are low on battery, they’re going to struggle to perform like they would when fully charged.
Nearly dead AirPods might lose volume, fail to connect with your iOS device, or lose microphone control/power.
If your AirPods are almost dead, this is the likely reason the mic is not working. In fact, it may still be *technically* working, albeit at a very, very low output – so low that the person you are speaking to cannot hear you.
2. Dirty AirPods
It’s funny how often this gets overlooked, but it is a very common cause of AirPod mics not working.
Earwax and other dirt/grim builds up on your AirPods over time, and if you don’t regulary clean them this gunk can get caked onto your mic, blocking it completely.
Just take a close look at your AirPods and see if the various crevices have gunk built up on/in them.
3. Software Issues
Does your iPhone, Macbook, or iPad need a software update? If so, your connected devices might not work perfectly.
Apple products get notoriously weird right around the time that a software update is released, almost as if your devices are acting out, begging you to update them.
Of course, this isn’t the case – it’s just that your apps and connected devices update automatically in anticipation of your phone updating, and waiting to do that can cause things to get weird.
The bottom line: not updating your iPhone can sometimes cause it to interact differently with your connected devices, potentially resulting in your AirPods microphone not working.
4. Mechanical Issues and Damage
This might not be what you wanted to hear, but it could be the case that your Airpods microphone is simply… broken.
If your AirPods have been exposed to lots of water or have been dropped multiple times, the electronics could be damaged.
Thankfully, this is rare – AirPods and their wired predecessors, the old-school EarPods, are famously tough.
5. Bluetooth Connection Problems
Bluetooth has been around for a couple of decades now, but it isn’t a perfect technology. Sometimes, just like any other wireless tech, it gets wonky.
This is especially true when you use multiple Bluetooth devices on a daily basis; there are no great explanations, it’s just something that tends to happen.
Bluetooth connections can sometimes become spotty, and require a reset to fix.
If you’ve recently tried to hop onto a work call and discovered your AirPods mic isn’t working, a bad Bluetooth connection may be the reason.
6. Settings Issue
This is one of those things that has Apple fans kicking themselves when they finally figure out why their Airpods mic isn’t working. Why? Because it’s so easy to fix, but it’s the last thing you think about!
The settings for your iPhone and AirPods allow you to do a lot of different things, customizing the functionality of your devices for different tasks/activities.
If your AirPods mic isn’t working, or your phone/laptop mic is turned on instead of the ones in your AirPods, you may need to dig into your settings to figure out what’s going on.
What to Do When Your AirPods Mic Stops Working
1. Disconnect and Reconnect Your AirPods
This should be the first thing you do, if you can, to fix the mic issue with your AirPods.
The easiest way to do this is to turn off the Bluetooth, wait a few seconds, and turn it back on.
Your AirPods should reconnect automatically.
If that doesn’t work, you may need to open your iPhone settings, navigate to the Bluetooth area, click the “Info” icon next to your AirPods, and select “Forget this Device”.
This is a more permanent disconnection of your AirPods. If you choose “Forget this Device” you’ll have to manually reconnect the AirPods to your phone; it won’t happen automatically.
2. Reset Your AirPods
If you’re unable to get your mic to work after reconnecting your AirPods, you may have to do a full reset. The full reset of AirPods, as you’d expect, returns your AirPods to their factory settings, completely erasing any connection with your phone.
However, because AirPods don’t store any data, there is no risk in doing a full reset.
These steps will show you how it’s done:
- Place your AirPods in the charging case.
- Wait 30-45 seconds.
- Open the lid of your AirPods case – but don’t take them out.
- In your iPhone settings, tap Bluetooth.
- Now, tap the “i” icon next to your AirPods.
- Tap “Forget This Device”, then tap one more time to confirm.
- On your Airpods Case, press the setup button on the back for 15 seconds. The status light will flash red, then white.
- Now, you can re-connect your AirPods as if they were brand new.
3. Clean your AirPods
Occasionally earwax and other grime will build up on your AirPods, covering the mic and muffling, or even completely blocking your voice. Check the mic on your AirPods and clean it regularly.
Cleaning dirt and gunk out of your AirPods is a simple concept. But, because you’re dealing with sensitive electronics, you need to be sure you’re cleaning them the right way.
Use a clean, dry toothbrush or similar item to gently remove dirt and grime from your AirPods. You can also use a Q-Tip to clean out your AirPods, just the same way you would clean out your actual ears.
Just make sure you don’t use any soap or water – that’ll only make the blockage worse, and you risk permanently damaging the speakers.
4. Restart Your iPhone
Sometimes, a non-working microphone is not the fault of your AirPods at all – it’s your iPhone that needs to be fixed.
Often, a simple restart of the device is all that’s needed. Turn your phone off, wait for 30 seconds, and turn it back on. That’s right – the oldest IT fix in the book is still just as good as ever!
This will reset your phone and all of its connections, and it’s often enough to get your AirPods mic working again!
5. Charge Your AirPods
The charging case for a pair of AirPods is deceptively good – if you don’t use them often, it can keep your AirPods fully charged for days at a time.
If the case is dead, though, the individual earbuds will die quickly. People who forget to keep their cases charged may find that their microphones are spotty, quiet, or entirely unresponsive.
Always remember to keep your AirPods charged up! It’s not hard, either – your AirPods can be fully charged in less than an hour!
6. Check AirPods Settings
Your AirPods have a microphone placed into each ear so that you can speak to people with only one earbud in regardless of whether it’s the right one or the left one.
If your microphone isn’t working in one ear, it might be a problem with your settings. The AirPods microphone is supposed to automatically switch between each earbud when you’re only using one, but the settings for this can be changed.
Follow these steps to update your AirPods Microphone settings:
- Open the “Settings” app on your iPhone.
- Tap “Bluetooth”.
- Find your AirPods in the list of devices and tap the “info” icon (an “i” with a circle around it).
- Tap “Microphone”.
- There are three options for AirPods microphone settings:
- Automatically Switch AirPods
- Always Left AirPod
- Always Right Airpod
- If your settings say anything other than “Automatically Switch”, change it to that setting.
This solution will only work for a minority of AirPods users, because it means you had to have previously changed your settings and forgot.
But, it’s still worth mentioning, because of the financial implications of solution #6…
7. If All Else Fails, Buy New AirPods
Sometimes, replacing your AirPods is unavoidable. If this device is necessary for your work or social life and all other methods of fixing them have failed, you might just have to bite the bullet and get new AirPods.
Keep an eye on the Apple website, as well as Amazon, to see if you can take advantage of a sale – they happen all the time!
A non-working microphone on a set of AirPods makes for a very poor Zoom, Facetime, or phone experience. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can get your AirPods mic back online!
Which solution from my list paid off for you? Was it a simple reset, a full reset, or did you wind up purchasing new AirPods? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section below!