AirPods tips and tricks: how to get the most from your Apple headphones

Apple's AirPods are easily some of the best wireless earbuds – here's how to get the best out of them

Apple AirPods 3
(Image credit: Apple)

If you're looking for the best wireless earbuds then Apple's AirPods are the ultimate option – sleek and fashionable, while offering practicality and excellent battery life. They can do all kinds of neat tricks, too, as we'll get to in this feature.

Apple generally does a really good job of explaining how AirPods work when you get your hands on a pair, offering detailed instructions in the box to help make the experience as simple as possible. Unlike other earbuds, there are no complicated Bluetooth rituals – everything is fast and easy. 

The best use-case for AirPods is alongside a full suite of Apple products: an iPhone 13, iPad Air, and M1 MacBook Pro, given that Apple designs products to work well within its own ecosystem. Of course, you can pair AirPods with an Android smartphone but it feels somewhat... wrong

So let's get to everything that's right, as we jump into our top Apple AirPods tips and tricks guide. 

1. Customise the Tap function 

Apple AirPods (3rd Gen)

(Image credit: Apple)

Let's face it: no one really uses Siri. Apple doesn't recognise this pretty obvious fact, though, and insists that the AirPods' default Tap function should call up the voice assistant.

But changing what Tap does is pretty simple. Head to Settings > Bluetooth and tap the i button next to your AirPods. From there, select either Left or Right and customise what the Tap feature does. Your choices are fairly limited – play/pause, next song, and so on – but the ability to do so is really helpful.

2. Pair with your Apple TV 

apple tv 4k

(Image credit: Apple)

If you've got an Apple TV, then pairing AirPods for an immersive viewing experience is pretty essential, although we recommend sticking to a soundbar if you have one.

Apple has put a lot of effort into adding Dolby Atmos and other fancy audio features for the TV and AirPods are well-positioned to take advantage of these features.

To get going, hold down the main play/pause button on the Apple TV remote and select AirPods as the audio source. It's literally that simple. 

It's also a pretty neat upgrade for most TVs, especially those that don't have an easy way of connecting Bluetooth headphones to them. 

3. Turn on Find My 

Apple Find My

(Image credit: Apple)

Having AirPods: great. Losing AirPods: not so great. 

Luckily, Apple has thought of a pretty neat solution: Find My. It's built straight into almost all new Apple devices and keeps tabs on them and selected contacts (with consent). 

Because AirPods are so small having a fall-back for finding them makes a whole lot of sense. Interestingly, the feature works for the AirPods themselves, not the case. 

You don't need to do much setup: simply head to Find My on your other Apple device and the AirPods should automatically show their last known location. Very handy.

4. Wear one AirPod during calls 

Apple AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Okay, this one doesn't apply to the AirPods Max, of course, but for your more regular AirPods earbuds you can save battery life by only using one AirPod at a time. Doing so is as simple as, well, just using one AirPod, leaving the other in the case to charge. 

Given that talk time is perhaps the most limited commodity for the AirPods, this is a pretty nifty trick. It also means that you have one ear free to help avoid accidents, especially if you're moving around outside while on the phone. 

5. Check your firmware 

Apple AirPods Max being worn by a woman looking at an iPad

(Image credit: Apple)

Keeping things up to date is key, especially when it comes to technology. 

To check your AirPods firmware, head to the iOS device that they are connected to and head to Settings. From there, select General, scroll to AirPods, and select the device. 

You'll be able to see the model number, serial number, hardware version, and firmware, alongside any updates to the latter. Pretty neat. 

Max Slater-Robins

Max Slater-Robins has written for T3 now on and off for over half a decade, with him fitting in serious study at university in between. Max is a tech expert and as such you'll find his words throughout, appearing in everything from reviews and features, to news and deals. Max is specifically a veteran when it comes round to deal hunting, with him seeing out multiple Black Friday campaigns to date.