Why Do My AirPods Keep Pausing? (EASY Fix!)

Apple AirPods are a great product – they’re the best-selling wireless earbuds globally! But, they do come with their fair share of challenges. One such challenge that seems to affect many users is their AirPods keep pausing. 

If your AirPods keep pausing, the Automatic Ear Detection feature is likely to blame. Try turning this feature off, and cleaning the proximity sensors, to get the pausing to stop. You should also check your Bluetooth connections and restart your apps/phone if the problem doesn’t go away.

Keep reading to learn more about why your AirPods keep pausing and how to fix them!

Why Do AirPods Pause?

There are a number of reasons your AirPods could be pausing, but the most common reason is that the Ear Detection (powered by proximity sensors) isn’t working properly

Some of the other causes include:

  • You are using one AirPod, and the one that isn’t being used keeps moving around, triggering an auto-pause
  • Your AirPods have a low battery
  • Your AirPods have a weak Bluetooth Connection
  • An app you’re using is glitching, or your phone is

Why AirPods Pause when One Ear is Removed

Apple’s AirPods are designed with a unique feature called “Automatic Ear Detection”. This bit of technology means that your AirPods can tell whether or not they’re actually in your ear.

Automatic Ear Detection provides two things to AirPods users; 

  1. Auto Pausing: Your AirPods will pause whenever you remove one ear, so that you can communicate with others without music/video still playing in your other ear. 
  2. Ear Switching: AirPods will automatically detect when a user is only using one AirPod and stop audio from playing in the unused AirPod.

Automatic Ear Detection is a very convenient and helpful piece of technology, and it rests on the shoulders of a tiny, yet crucial component of your AirPods: proximity sensors

What are AirPods Proximity Sensors?

These sensors are placed on the earpiece of every pair of AirPods. They’re simple infrared sensors that can detect when an object is very, very close (say, your ears when you’re using them) or making contact.

When you put the AirPods in your ears, the sensors can detect this, and they know which ear(s) to play audio through. 

The Proximity sensors are actually pretty easy to see – they’re those black bars on the side of the earpiece on your AirPods.

AirPods Proximity Sensors cause pausing

If these sensors malfunction or get dirty, they can cause your AirPods to incorrectly believe they aren’t in your ear, automatically pausing whatever you’re listening to. 

Can Physical Damage Make AirPods Pause?

I’ll start by saying, it is unlikely that your AirPods are pausing randomly because of physical damage. Most AirPods users who experience this issue will find that it has something to do with either the Bluetooth connection or the Automatic Ear Switching feature. 

That said, if you drop your AirPods often, leave them exposed to heat (perhaps in a hot car), or they get water damage, random pausing can occur.

If your AirPods do have physical damage, though, you’ll likely be experiencing more than one technical issue; if that truly is the issue, it’ll be pretty obvious. 

How to Stop Apple Airpods from Pausing

The reason your AirPods keep pausing is hard to determine, which means you may have to try several of the following methods to get them to work again. The first thing you should try is turning off automatic ear detection – it’s the most likely reason your AirPods keep pausing and therefore the most likely fix. 

Read through this list of different fixes and find out which one works for you! There is no magic method of getting your AirPods to stop pausing; each of these methods is effective in the right situation.

1. Turn Off Automatic Ear Detection

One of the easiest things you can do to fix your AirPods frustrations is to simply turn off Automatic Ear Detection using your iPhone settings. 

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Open up your iPhone Settings app.
  2. Tap Bluetooth, find your AirPods and tap the “More Information” icon (the “i” with a circle around it)
  3. Toggle the switch for “Automatic Ear Detection” off. 
turn off airpod automatic ear detection to stop pausing

And that’s all there is to it!

Keep in mind that when you turn off Automatic Ear Detection, you won’t be able to easily switch ears or automatically pause your streaming media by taking out one AirPod. Still, though, it’s better to turn this feature off than to always be dealing with AirPods that pause when you don’t want them to!

2. Check Your Bluetooth Connections

If your iPhone is connected via Bluetooth to more than one device, it may have trouble knowing which device it should be sending audio to. 

For example, if you’re connected to both your AirPods and a Bluetooth speaker, your iPhone may be getting, for lack of a better term, confused about which device is supposed to be receiving the audio. 

Before jumping to the conclusion that your AirPods are simply broken, check to see if you’re connected to any other devices via Bluetooth.

If you are, disconnect those devices and see if your pausing problems disappear. 

3. Clean Your Airpods – Especially the Proximity Sensors

Dirty AirPods aren’t just gross to look at – they underperform and experience technical issues when they aren’t kept clean. For instance, dirty AirPods can get frustratingly quiet and hard to use.

One component of the AirPods in particular that suffer from being dirty are the proximity sensors.

If they get covered in earwax or dirt buildup, they can begin to incorrectly judge whether or not the AirPods are in your ears, leading to the random pausing issue. 

clean your AirPods and remove earwax

Cleaning AirPods is actually pretty easy. You can use a cotton swab, a (lightly) damp cloth, or an alcohol cleaning wipe (that’s what Apple recommends) to wipe away any dirt or grime that has collected, leaving behind nothing but shiny, like-new AirPods!

Once they’re completely clean, your AirPods’ proximity sensors should function as intended. Even if it doesn’t fix the problem, it’s always a good idea to keep your AirPods as clean as they can be. 

4. Charge Your Airpods

AirPods with a low battery (think 5% charge or less) will go in and out, loose volume, and may also lose microphone functionality. You can even permanently shorten your AirPods battery life!

When AirPods are nearly dead, they’re also nearly useless! You can get very little enjoyment out of AirPods that are about to die. And, when they finally do die? They aren’t exactly easy to find, either.

There is a lot more than just random pausing to deal with when Apple AirPods aren’t charged.

That’s why it’s important to keep your AirPods charged up to ensure that you don’t encounter any of these issues. It’s not too tough a task, either – AirPods can charge from nearly dead to completely full in under an hour!

5. Test Different Apps

It may not be your AirPods’ fault if your streaming media keeps pausing at random. One thing many AirPods users fail to consider is the app they’re using to stream music or video. 

It could be a spotty internet connection, a software glitch in a new update, or just a good old “electronic hiccup”.

No matter what it is, though, you should try to find out whether or not your streaming apps are causing the problem

Try to stream audio or video from different apps and see if the problem of your AirPods pausing follows you from app to app. If it does, you know that the problem is with your iPhone/AirPods, if it doesn’t, you know that the problem is with the app you’re using. 

Are your AirPods pausing over and over on Spotify? Switch over to YouTube or your Podcasts app to see if the problem continues. If you discover the pausing issue is localized to one app, just close it and re-open it to fix the issue. 

I know this one might seem obvious, but that’s one of the great faults of human nature: we often assume the problem is more complex than it is! So, never forget to check and see if your apps are working properly.

6. Restart Your iPhone

Again, even though your AirPods are the ones pausing, they may not be to blame. Just like all electronics, iPhones sometimes encounter software glitches or other unexplainable issues

Sometimes, those issues may affect the way your AirPods are working.

If you’ve tried cleaning your AirPods, charging them, and disconnecting other Bluetooth devices to no avail, give your iPhone a restart and see what happens.

It might just be what your iPhone/AirPods need to get working again!

7. Check Other Devices that Connect To Your AirPods

If you use your AirPods with your Macbook or iPad alongside your phone, they may be trying to connect with all of them at the same time. 

This happens a lot when you’re using your AirPods to stream media from your iPhone while simultaneously using your Macbook. Your AirPods will attempt to pull “double-duty” and play any audio from your Macbook. 

It’s supposed to be part of a seamless transition between your phone and laptop – you can be listening to music on your phone one moment and watching YouTube videos on your laptop the next, without having to do a thing. 

What often happens, though, is that the AirPods will pause seemingly at random, even though there is no audio on your laptop to switch to. 

It’s happened to me dozens of times – and it does get annoying!

What you need to do in this situation is turn off your laptop or phone’s Bluetooth so that your AirPods aren’t trying to manage audio from two devices at the same time


If your AirPods keep pausing on you, you may understandably get pretty frustrated. The most important thing to remember is that it is usually not a serious issue, and it can almost always be fixed. 

There may be some cases where you just can’t get it to stop, but most people can get their AirPods working again using one of the methods I shared above. 

Which method from our list helped you get your AirPods to stop pausing? Any nuggets of wisdom for other readers facing this problem? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section below!