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Apple’s AirPods have a frustrating new ‘feature’. We figured out how to fix it



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

David Carnoy / CNET

After upgrading to iOS 14 or MacOS 11 Big Sur you probably have your AirPods randomly switch between your Apple devices. The new auto-shift feature should make your life easier, but for many – yours included – it’s annoying.

In theory, the new feature would be able to identify in real time which Apple device you want to use your AirPods with. For example, if you are streaming music on your iPhone and you start to play a video on you iPad, the AirPods should switch to your iPad. But in reality, the job is somewhat fussy. I know I have had issues with my iPhone taking over my AirPods connection when I unlock it while listening to music on my iPad.

Fortunately, there is a way to turn the feature off. Make sure to follow the steps below on any Apple device that you use your AirPods with, or at least the ones that you don’t want your AirPods to automatically switch between.

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

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Turn off auto power off on iPhone, iPad

Follow these steps with your AirPods connected to your iPhone or iPad:

1. Open the Settings app.
2. Crane Bluetooth.
3. Tap the “i” icon next to the name of your AirPods.
4.Scroll 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 from the Settings app.

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There is also an option for Macs.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Turn off automatic shutdown on a Mac

Connect your AirPods to your Mac and follow these steps:

1. Open System preferences.
2. Select Bluetooth.
3. Click Options next to the name of your AirPods.
4.Click the drop-down box labeled Connect to this Mac.
5. Select When last connected to this Mac then click Done and close System preferences.

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

Check out these common tricks for more AirPods tips AirPods and AirPods Pro. We also have a few tips specific to the AirPods Pro. Concerning the AirPods Max, be sure to check out our full review.

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

Angela Lang / CNET


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