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How to find your lost AirPods (and what to do before they go missing again)

If you're looking for your misplaced AirPods, follow these steps to find them.
Written by Nina Raemont, Associate Editor
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

If you bring your AirPods everywhere, you know how it goes: one moment you know exactly where you left them, and the next you're lifting pillows, disassembling couches, scouring every counter and tabletop, or retracing steps on a morning walk trying to find them. 

Those sneaky little earbuds can walk away from us, but luckily the AirPods have some handy tech that helps bring them back home (into their trusty white case, that is). You can use Apple's Find My app to locate your AirPods and continue using them, but there are some caveats I discuss below. 

Also: The best AirPods you can buy

 If you're looking for your misplaced AirPods after taking them out of the case, follow these steps to find them. 

How to find your lost AirPods

1. Set up Find My ASAP

An iPhone displays the Find My app
Nina Raemont/ZDNET

First and foremost, set up Find My. Find My, one of the native apps on your iPhone and iPad, will become your best friend when you begin a search for lost devices like AirPods or Apple Watches. Note: You'll want to set up Find My as soon as possible, because you can't locate your AirPods through Find My after you've lost them. If your AirPods are already set up on Find My, go to the next step. 

2. Open Find My

Find My AirPods against green backdrop
Nina Raemont/ZDNET

Open the Find My app, then toggle to the Devices tab to select your AirPods, which you've registered on Find My. If your AirPods are nearby, they'll appear on the map. 

3. Play sound to find AirPods

Find My AirPods against green backdrop
Nina Raemont/ZDNET

Click the Play Sound feature to locate your earbuds. You'll hear a ringing sound near you. It's important to know that at least one of the two earbuds must be out of its charging case or it won't play a sound. You can play sound for the left and right earbuds by tapping L or R. Once you've found them, you can hit stop. 

Will this work if I've lost my AirPods while they're in the charging case?

If you've lost your AirPods while they're in the charging case, it gets harder to locate them on Find My. 
The Find My map will show the most recent location where the case was last opened, but won't be updated to their current location if they've been moved since they were last used.

Can you locate AirPods that aren't online?

Unfortunately, no. They need to be online and connected to Find My to easily locate them. 

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