Losing an AirPod sucks. Use this hidden trick to locate your lost earbud

Apple's wireless earbuds are small, easy to misplace and expensive to replace. We'll show you how to locate them using an app you may already have.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
3 min read

Those small earbuds are far too easy to lose. 

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No matter which pair of AirPods you have -- the second-generation version, the AirPods Pro or the AirPods Max, earbuds can get lost, misplaced or even carried away by the family pet. Small earbuds, especially, can fall between couch cushions, fly under furniture or wedge deep into a pocket.

I'm grateful for Apple's Find My app that's built into every iPhone, iPad and Mac. I most often use it to play a sound to locate my iPhone around my home, but occasionally I use the same tool to find a lost or misplaced AirPod earbud. 

It's not immediately obvious that you can just use the Find My app to track down more than just your phone or tablet, but it's possible and -- under the right circumstances -- useful. 

Below I'll show you how to use the Find My app to locate a missing AirPod. 


It's only a few taps to find your AirPods, with some caveats. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Make sure Find My is set up

Before you can use the Find My app to locate anything you've lost, make sure it's set up. Double-check that Find My is turned on by opening the Settings app, tap on your name at the top of the screen, then select Find My. Next, tap Find My iPhone and move the switch to the On position. As long as Find My is enabled, your Apple Watch and AirPods will automatically be added to the app. You can't activate and use Find My for your AirPods after you've lost them, so do this step right now. I'll wait. 

Done? OK, good. 

How to find your lost AirPods, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max

After realizing your AirPod is nowhere to be found, take a deep breath, grab your iPhone and open the Find My app. Tap the Devices tab, then find and select your AirPods on the list. Alternatively, you can use your computer to visit iCloud.com/find to help find your lost devices.

If your AirPods are within Bluetooth range of your iPhone, you'll see their current location on a map and have the option to play a sound on one or both earbuds. Tap Play Sound and start listening for a chirping sound to come from each earbud. If one AirPod is in the charging case, it won't play any sound. 

The sound will gradually get louder as it plays for two minutes. If you can hear it, but not find it before the sound stops, then tap Play Sound again. 

You can switch which AirPod the sound is playing on by tapping the L or R button in the Find My app. When you've found both AirPods, tap Stop


Find My is exactly what you need to use to locate missing devices.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

There are some situations when Find My won't work

Finding a lost AirPod is easy so long as it's out of the case, still charged and close enough to your iPhone. In a situation where the AirPods aren't within range for your phone to trigger a sound, you should still see the last location your phone had a connection to them. You can get directions to their last known location, where hopefully your phone can find them and then play a sound. 

If you lost your AirPods while they were in the case, your odds of finding them goes down significantly. You likely won't see their last location on a map, and you won't have the option to play a sound. However, there's still a chance another Apple device user finds them, opens the case and the Find My app is able to let you know they were found.

It's a long shot, sure, but it's better than nothing. 

For those with AirPods Max, the caveats are a little different. If your AirPods Max are in their case, your iPhone can find them for up to 18 hours. If they're outside of the smart case, you'll have 72 hours to connect to them and trigger the sound. 

After finding your AirPods, take a few minutes to ensure that you can find your iPhone should you ever lose it. Need some AirPods tips? We've got you. Here are some general tips, a few tricks for the AirPods Pro and some for the AirPods Max.