Apple AirPods are designed to deliver a balanced audio experience. Their compatibility with binaural audio means that some audio will come from the left AirPod while others will come from the right. So when only one AirPod is active, it makes for an excellent low-hearing experience.
The good news is that some easy fixes can help fix this problem. Just follow the steps to fix your AirPods imbalance and get back to The Dark Side of the Moon in both ears.
How to fix when only one AirPod works
If one of your AirPods isn’t playing sound or isn’t connecting to your other devices, try one of these quick fixes.
Charge your AirPods
The most common reason why an AirPod stops working is simple: it’s not charging. Sometimes when you put an AirPod in the charging case, it won’t connect securely and won’t charge all the time (or at all). When you put it in your ear next time, it won’t work.
Make sure there is no dirt or debris inside the charging case that could prevent your AirPods from making a solid connection. When placed in the charging case, the light on the front panel will flash rapidly. Look for that signal and make sure both of your AirPods are charging.
Once they’ve charged, put both AirPods in your ears and check that both work. If this method does not fix the problem, continue to the next fix.
Re-Pair Your AirPods
The next solution involves repeating the pairing process with your AirPods. To do this, open Setting > Bluetooth and tap the “i” icon to the right of your AirPods. Then tap Forget this device and then press Forget device to complete the process.
This will remove the AirPods from your iOS device and allow you to repeat the pairing process. Place both AirPods in the charging case, wait about 30 seconds, and then open the cover near the front of your iOS device.
When prompted, reconnect your AirPods. Put them in your ears, wait for the confirmation sound and then test their output.
Restart your iOS device
If the above method doesn’t work, you should restart your phone, iPad, or macOS before proceeding to the more extreme step. Often the problem is not with your AirPods but with the device they are connected to.
On your iPhone or iPad, press and hold the power button until you get the option to power off. Wait for the device to shut down completely before restarting. On macOS, turn off the computer completely, wait 30 seconds, and then turn it back on.
Check for software updates
Updates to iOS or macOS can cause problems with AirPods. If a software update is available, be sure to download it and allow your device time to reboot before checking your AirPods again.
Updates are usually released to fix glitches and bugs in the operating system itself, but an update can also be the cause of a glitch. In this case, the next update will usually be released in the next few days to fix the problem with only one AirPod working.
Do a Factory Reset for your AirPods
Do another factory reset then pair your AirPods again. Some of the steps are the same, but it’s a more intensive process that causes you to lose custom settings. You will need to re-select all your settings once the process is complete.
To factory reset your AirPods, place both AirPods inside the charging case and close the lid. Wait 30 seconds and open the cover, then open Setting > Bluetooth and tap the “i” icon. Clap Forget this device and then press Forget device confirm.
If the lid remains open, press and hold the button on the back of your AirPods case for at least 15 seconds until the status light on the front flashes amber. Move the AirPods case near your device to begin the pairing process, and follow the onscreen prompts to complete the process.
Once you’ve connected your AirPods again, both should make a sound. If not, you can try one last step.
Reset iOS network settings
If the problem isn’t with your AirPods but with your phone (and updating/rebooting didn’t help), then your next step is to do a full network settings reset. Multiple Bluetooth connections to one device can sometimes cause interference and lead to failed connections and glitches.
If you do this reset, you will lose all saved Bluetooth devices on your phone. You will have to re-pair each device, and you will also lose all saved Wi-Fi networks and passwords. This is a kind of last resort if nothing else works.
To reset your iOS network settings, open Setting > Shared > Reset > Reset Network Settings. You will be prompted to enter your passcode. Once you do, press Reset Network Settings to confirm and complete the process.
After you reset all your network settings, pair your AirPods again with your phone and test their connection.
If none of the steps above worked, check your AirPods for any physical damage. One may have fallen out of your ear or been damaged in some way.
If your AirPod is damaged, you can schedule a service appointment at an Apple-certified repair shop or simply pay to replace that single non-working AirPod. If you have Apple Care for your AirPods, they will replace them for free. Simply visit support.apple.com to initiate a claim.