If you lose your AirPods, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, you can go to Find My to locate them. But sometimes things don’t go to plan and many things can go wrong. For instance:
- Nothing happens when you try to play a sound through your AirPods.
- Their location is not updated from the moment you lose them.
- There is no location at all – just ‘Offline’ or ‘No location found’.
Unfortunately, these aren’t glitches, as some Apple issues turn out to be. These “problems” are byproducts of the fact that AirPods, AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, while important and useful components of the Apple ecosystem, do not have the same capabilities as products such as iPhone, iPad or Mac. As a result, you cannot rely on Find My in the same way you can with those other products. Let̵
How do I find my works with your AirPods
Find My is basically a live map for all of your connected Apple products. So if you lose an iPhone, you can use Find My to quickly find its current location, as long as it’s turned on and connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular network. Even a Wi-Fi-only iPad can be tracked live if you’ve lost it somewhere with an internet connection.
What’s more impressive is that it can display the last known location before the device’s battery runs out and it can use other people’s Apple products via Bluetooth to locate your device when Wi-Fi or cellular data is not available .
Unfortunately, AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max have been left out of many of these advanced tracking features. Apple’s line of Bluetooth wireless headphones cannot independently communicate with the internet. Instead, Find My keeps track of their location when they are connected to your other Apple devices. And since it relies on other devices, Find My must already be turned on for the iPhone, iPad, or Mac that was last connected to the AirPods.
Once the connection is lost – either due to distance or a dead battery – Find My will no longer be able to update the coordinates of your AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max. The best Find My can do is show you the location of your headphones when it was last connected to an Apple product under your Apple ID.
What can be torturous is that Apple still gives you the option to play a sound through your missing AirPods, even if it’s not connected to those AirPods in the first place. You press play and the loading wheel spins forever. After five seconds of inactivity, the wheel continues to spin, but Apple says, “Sound pending … Plays as connection.”
If you do find your AirPods, the next time you put them in your ear, you’ll get a condescending message: “Your AirPods have been found nearby”. Thanks, Apple.
If you are going to lose them, lose them from the suitcase
Find My can only track AirPods and AirPods Pro when the headphones are removed from the charging case. When they are inside, they charge and are not connected to any other device so Find My cannot see them.
AirPods and AirPods Pro will only connect to your other Apple devices when they are out of the case, but Find My can still determine the last known location before they were stored, as long as they were connected to one of your other devices with Find My beforehand switched on.
Which could be the exact position they are in now. If all you used your AirPods last time was to put them in the case and put them in your living room, the location on the map is accurate. Then if you take that suitcase and put it outside, Find My will still say they are in your house.
For the premium AirPods Max headphones, it’s a different story. Apple says Find My can read the location in the Smart Case for up to 6 p.m. When they are out of the case, they are good for 72 hours. This difference is likely related to the fact that AirPods Max never turns off, so there’s a little more flexibility in communicating with your Apple devices.
What happens if out of reach or dead
If you lose your AirPods outside of the charging case, they are much easier to find than in the case, but it’s still far from foolproof. Keep in mind that AirPods cannot communicate with Find My on their own, so you will only see their location in the app if you are within range of the AirPods. If you dropped your left AirPod in a restaurant, go home, your AirPod will not update its location.
Even if you lose your loose AirPods within range of your iPhone, you’re running against the clock known as ‘battery life’. Once your AirPods’ battery runs out, they will no longer be able to communicate with your Apple devices, update their location or play a sound.
In both cases, according to Apple, you will still see the last known location of your AirPods in the app. Just like you lose your AirPods while in the charging case, you can still refer to the last time your Apple device was connected to an AirPod that was out of range or out of range.
What do ‘offline’ and ‘no location found’ mean
Whether you are missing individual AirPods or AirPods in the charging case, at some point in Find My you may see an “Offline” or “No location found” message instead of the last known location of your AirPods.
It’s not clear to Apple why you’d receive one of these Find My messages instead of the last known location. We’ve reached out to Apple for clarification, but it seems time-based.
After a period of inactivity, Find My will stop displaying the last known location of your AirPods and say “Offline” or “No location found” instead. It is also not clear what the difference is between these two terms. For what it’s worth, all my devices that are not online say only ‘No location found’, not ‘offline’.
What happens if someone pairs your AirPods with their device?
The worst has come true – your AirPods weren’t lost, they were stolen, and the thief connected them to their own device. The nerve.
So what now? What does Find My do in this situation?
No really. Find My is unresponsive if your AirPods are paired with a device outside of your Apple ID. In fact, it doesn’t seem to affect whether you receive the “No location found” message or whether you can still see the last known location of your AirPods. You’re stuck with the same Find My experience we described above, with someone else running around with your AirPods.
It’s a frustrating situation and one that highlights the limitations of Find My and AirPods. The app can be a useful tool when your AirPods are out of the case and hiding in a sofa cushion or your jacket. It can even be useful if their last known location is really where they still are.
But those few scenarios aside, you can’t rely on Find My for AirPods in the same way you can for your iPhone or other Internet-enabled Apple devices.
Consider using a third-party tracker
If you tend to misplace your AirPods, consider stepping up your tracking game. The rumor mill has long speculated that Apple is developing its own device trackers called AirTags that would use Find My to locate items that support the tracking device.
That would be a great solution for AirPods – just stick an AirTag on the back of the charging case and suddenly Find My becomes a lot more useful.
AirTags aren’t there yet, of course, and Apple has no public plans to release them either. Until then, it might be better to stick with a third-party option like Tile trackers. Some users even buy an AirPods case to put on their charging case so they don’t have to place the tile tracker directly on the charging case itself.
Either way, using something like Tile can make finding your AirPods much easier, and it can give you some peace of mind when you’re out and about with your expensive Bluetooth headphones.
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