Whether you’re new to the world of wireless audio or looking to pick up a few tricks, here’s how to connect your Bluetooth headphones and earphones to your phone and other devices.
How Do You Pair Bluetooth Headphones?
If you haven’t yet joined the wireless headphone/earphone revolution, perhaps you’re starting to feel as if the tech world is forcing you to, with many new phones shipping without 3.5mm headphone jacks. But is wireless audio only suited for tech-savvy people, or can anyone pick up a pair of Bluetooth headphones and start enjoying some tunes? The good news is, it’s actually really simple to use Bluetooth headphones—all you need to do is connect them and you’re good to go. And if you can use a cell phone, you can connect a pair of wireless headphones. We’re here to help.
Connecting Headphones via Bluetooth
While the actual buttons you press (and for how long) can vary depending on the headphones, the pairing process is always as simple as follows: First, go to the settings menu on your phone and tap on the Bluetooth menu. In the Bluetooth menu, you want to make sure that Bluetooth is turned on. Then go to your headphones or earphones and press the Bluetooth pairing button. If you’re not sure which button that is, your manual will tell you if there’s a dedicated Bluetooth button or if the power button doubles as the Bluetooth button. Some headphones automatically go into pairing mode when they’re powered up.
Once you’ve held down the button responsible for pairing for a long enough time (usually a few seconds), the LEDs on the headphones should begin blinking to indicate they’re ready to pair with your phone or other device. Now go back to your phone, and on the same screen you used to turn on the Bluetooth functionality, you should see the name of your headphones listed. Tap that, and you should be paired within seconds. If this doesn’t work (though it should), just try the whole process again.
If you don’t see your headphones listed, that’s because manufacturers sometimes use abbreviated nicknames for their products, or genuinely head-scratching codenames, or exceptionally vague names that use the manufacturer’s name but not the product name. Typically, however, you’ll see the actual product name on the list of available pairable products. You may also notice other products that you can pair—your computer might show up, or the phone of the person sitting next to you. As long as you don’t tap on those device names, you won’t pair with them.
Once you’re paired, simply start playing music—it’ll now be streaming through your headphones or earphones, and depending on the controls on your particular pair, you’ll be able to toggle playback, track navigation, volume, and manage phone calls, directly through the headphones. You can also summon Siri and other voice assistants with most pairs.
If you have an iPhone, some headphones equipped with Apple’s W1 chip, like Air Pods or Beats X, are even easier to pair. You don’t even have to go to the Bluetooth menu—an on-screen notification appears when the earphones are close to your phone and they pair almost instantly.
So, the bottom line is: No matter whether they’re wireless in-ears, headphones, or true wireless models, pairing via Bluetooth is easy. The whole process takes about ten seconds.
This part can be a little tricky. Most Bluetooth headphones we test will automatically re-pair with the device they were most recently paired with (such as your phone) when powered up, provided that the phone is available for pairing and in Bluetooth range (which, by the way, is around 30 feet). However, it’s not uncommon for a device to need to be manually re-paired every time you power it back up again. Is this annoying? Yes. But it’s not difficult to manage.
Simply open up the Bluetooth menu on your phone and search for the name of the headphones you wish to pair. You usually don’t have to put the headphones in pairing mode in order to reconnect them after you’ve gone through the initial pairing process.
Unpairing (or Forgetting) Bluetooth Headphones
There are multiple reasons you might want to unpair your headphones from your phone or other connected device. Maybe you’re having some issues connecting and the headphones don’t seem to be cooperating—it happens, and like so many tech-related issues, the answer is often to reboot and try again. Except in this case, you may wish to not only reboot your headphones, but to also erase them from your Bluetooth device list and start the pairing process anew.
On an iPhone, tap the “i” icon next to the name of the headphones to pull up a screen with the option to Forget This Device. Tap it, and it’ll be removed from your list. The process varies across different Android devices, but generally follows a similar pattern. The next time you put your headphones in pairing mode, they’ll show up again on your phone’s menu.
It’s also worth noting that just about all of the advice above can be applied to pairing Bluetooth speakers as well.
Picking the Best Bluetooth Headphones
Now that you know how to pair Bluetooth headphones, it’s time to get out there and buy a pair. Check out our headphones product guide for the latest reviews. Once you’ve found the perfect pair, read up on our 5 easy tips to extend the life of your headphones and 6 ways you’re using your headphones wrong.