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Computers

Better Bluetooth: 2 apps for using AirPods with a Mac

Let your Mac and AirPods make beautiful music together.

Matt Elliott/CNET

Using your AirPods ($159 at B&H Photo-Video) with a Mac isn't too great a chore, but it's not as seamless as having them automatically connect to your iPhone ($1,000 at Amazon). If you use your AirPods frequently while working or watching videos on your Mac, then you need to know about two apps that make it simple and guarantee you won't need to wade into Bluetooth settings.

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ToothFairy

First up: ToothFairy, available in the Mac App Store for $3. The app puts an icon in your Mac's menu bar that you can click to connect and disconnect your AirPods. You can also create a keyboard shortcut for making and severing the connection between your Mac and AirPods. There are a handful of icons you can choose to sit in your menu bar, including one that looks like an AirPod, and you can check a box to add a battery life indicator next to the icon. The icon becomes filled in when your AirPods are connected and empty when there's not a connection. It's all very straightforward and easy.

And it's not just for AirPods; you can use ToothFairy to manage other Bluetooth devices in range of your Mac.

toothfairy
Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

AirBuddy

The other app is AirBuddy. It's available on GumRoad for a suggested donation of $5. This app mimics the battery status screen you see on your iPhone when you open your AirPods case near it. With the app installed on your Mac, you'll see the same spinning icons for your AirPods and the charging case with battery status in small window that slides down from the top edge of your Mac's display when you open your AirPods. (When you launch the app, you can choose to have this window open on the left, right or center of your display. And you can enable it for other W1 headsets, including some Beats models.) Just click the window to connect your Mac and AirPods.

AirBuddy requires Bluetooth LE and MacOS Mojave. If your Mac supports AirDrop, Hand Off and Continuity, then you should be all set.

airbuddy
Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Of the two apps in their current iteration, I prefer ToothFairy because I like having the the constant visual that lets me know the connection status of my AirPods at a glance.