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AirPods' automatic switching in iOS 14 is annoying. Here's how to turn it off

AirPods' auto-switching is supposed to be a feature of convenience, but it's lead to a lot of frustration.


The AirPods Max come in five colors. I got the silver.

David Carnoy/CNET

After updating to iOS 14 or MacOS 11 Big Sur you've likely experienced your AirPods randomly switching between your Apple devices. The new automatic switching feature is supposed to make your life easier, but for many -- including yours truly -- it's annoying. 

In theory, the new feature would be able to identify which Apple device you want to use your AirPods with in real-time. For example, if you're streaming music on your iPhone and you start playing a video on your iPad, the AirPods should switch to your iPad. But in reality, the feature is somewhat finicky. I know I've experienced issues with my iPhone taking over my AirPods connection when I unlock it while I'm listening to music on my iPad.

Thankfully, there's a way to turn the feature off. Just make sure you follow the steps outlined below on every Apple device that you use your AirPods with, or at a minimum, the devices you don't want your AirPods to automatically switch between. 


You'll need to repeat these steps on any iPhone or iPad you use your AirPods with. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Turn auto-switching off on iPhone, iPad

With your AirPods connected to your iPhone or iPad, follow these steps:

1. Open the Settings app.
2. Tap Bluetooth.
3. Tap the "i" icon next to the name of your AirPods.
4.Scroll down through the options until you find the option labeled Connect to this iPhone/iPad; tap it.
5.Select When Last Connected to This iPhone/iPad then back out of the Settings app. 


There's also an option for Macs. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Turn auto-switching off on a Mac

Connect your AirPods to your Mac, then follow these steps:

1. Open System Preferences.
2. Select Bluetooth.
3. Click Options next to the name of your AirPods.
4.Click on the dropdown labeled Connect to This Mac.
5. Select When Last Connected to This Mac and then click Done and close System Preferences

With automatic switching turned off on all of your Apple devices, your AirPods will connect to the last device they were connected to when you put them on, just like they did before iOS 14. Then if you want to start using them with another one of your Apple devices, you can switch to them by selecting them in the AirPlay section of Control Center. 

For more AirPods tips, check out these general tricks for AirPods and AirPods Pro. We also have some tips specific to the AirPods Pro. As for the AirPods Max, make sure to check out our full review.


AirPods, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max all work the same way with auto-switching. 

Angela Lang/CNET