Apple offers a collection of headphones, however AirPods Pro remain among the best. Even compared to the newer ones AirPods 3, AirPods Pro still has its features in terms of features. (See this deep dive that compares AirPods 3 and Pro.) And that’s because AirPods Pro boasts several unique features that can make them a better choice, including active noise reduction for an enhanced listening experience and removable silicone tips for a more comfortable fit.

Whether you’ve owned AirPods Pro for months or just got a pair, there’s a lot to learn about features, controls, and making them work best for you. Here is where this guide comes from. We have gathered everything you need to know about AirPods Pro, from how to pair them properly with your smartphone, take advantage of spatial audio or navigate to music.

Pairing the AirPods Pro takes just a few seconds

Pairing takes only a few seconds.

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After unpacking AirPods Pro, unlock your iPhone or iPad ($ 226 on Amazon) and open the charging box for your headphones. A second or two later, a prompt will appear asking if you want to pair the headphones.

Tap Connect to start pairing and you’re done. AirPods Pro will not only work with your iPhone, but will be paired with all Apple devices you log in to through your iCloud account.

Tap, don’t touch, on your AirPods Pro

Both AirPods Pro headphones have a button that is not actually a button.

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Instead of touching one of the AirPods, use the AirPods Pro handles as buttons. There’s actually no button; instead, it’s a pressure-sensitive section that can replicate the way you would use a button. It’s similar to how the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro trackpad doesn’t physically move to click.

Squeeze the flat recess of each AirPod with two fingers. You will hear a click in your ear each time you press it. Here’s what each button press does:

  • Press once: Pause / Play
  • Double click: Jump forward
  • Triple press: Jump back
  • Press and hold: Switch between noise reduction mode and transparency mode.

How to monitor battery life

One of the best features of the AirPods Pro is the battery life. You can work for hours between the battery in the case and those in each handset without having to charge. Apple has several different ways to monitor the battery life of each AirPod Pro as well as the case.

Each time you want to check the charge level of your AirPods Pro and the charging case, unlock your iPhone or iPad and open the case next to your AirPods device inside. An animation will appear showing the charge level of each AirPod and box.

AirPods Pro to iPhone, which shows the amount of battery charge for the headphones

The battery life is officially five hours.

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You can also add the battery gadget to your iPhone’s home screen. When AirPods are actively paired with your phone, the remaining battery life for each handset and case will be displayed in the widget.

How to use active noise reduction

The main feature of AirPods Pro is its ANC. When turned on, noise canceling blocks almost all the background noise you normally hear with regular headphones or standard AirPods. If you work in a noisy office, for example, or a home office shared with a partner and children who study remotely, this can help you block chatter and distraction.

IPhone Control Center controls with highlighted volume button showing AirPods Pro settings

The control center makes it easy to switch between modes.

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Turn off noise reduction by pressing and holding one of the AirPods buttons, or use the Control Center on your iPhone or iPad. Swipe down from the top right corner of your device screen; then, when the Control Center appears, press and hold the volume slider. At the bottom of the screen you will have three options: Noise Suppression, Off and Transparency. Touch the setting you want to use.

Read more: AirPods 3 vs. AirPods Pro: Any big difference between Apple’s wireless headphones

When you switch to transparency modeyou will be able to hear some of the sounds in your environment, but you will also hear the sound that is played in your AirPods Pro, which is something you would use when walking on busy streets so you can hear the traffic or at the airport when you need to listen for port changes, for example.

You can switch to transparency mode by pressing and holding AirPods or using the switch in the Control Center.

Spatial Audio is an impressive experience

Spatial audio provides an immersive surround sound experience, providing a 360-degree sonic landscape that adjusts to your movement. The experience is relatively new and available on AirPods Pro (along with the recent addition of Dolby Atmos for Apple Music) – it’s just a matter of activating the feature in your settings.

Turn on Spatial Audio by going to Settings > Bluetooth > tap “i” next to your AirPods Pro and then drag the switch to Spatial audio to the On position. You can then listen to a demo to see how the feature works by selecting See and hear how it works.

Controls of the Control Center for Spatial Audio and Active Noise Reduction

You can switch Spatial Audio to the same location where you control the ANC.

David Carnay / CNET

Now that you’re watching video on an app like Apple TV and using your AirPods Pro, you need to hear the sound in the surround sound moving around you as things happen on the screen or as you move your head.

If you’re unlucky enough to use Spatial Audio, you may need to update the firmware of your AirPods Pro, but this is something your iPhone can handle on its own. My advice? If you don’t see the surround audio feature in the settings, put your headphones in the charging case, but leave it open and place it next to your iPhone. I had to do just that for about an hour before AirPods Pro was updated.

Apple Watch Audio Playback Window with Noise Reduction Mode Button in the Lower Left Corner

Even your Apple Watch can help you change modes.

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Use your Apple Watch to control AirPods Pro

If you have Apple Watchyou can tap the AirPlay icon in the Now Playing app to switch between noise canceling modes and transparency mode when your AirPods Pro is in use.

AirPods Pro controls under the Mac sound menu

MacOS Big Sur has added a special control for AirPods that appears when your wireless headphones are connected to your Mac.

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Use your Mac to control AirPods Pro

When using your AirPods Pro with your Mac, you can switch between noise canceling mode and transparency mode without having to squeeze your AirPods Pro. On your Mac, you’ll see an AirPods icon when your headphones are successfully connected to your computer. Click on it, then change the mode.

Get the right fit by changing the tips

Two additional sizes of earbuds are included in the box with your AirPods Pro; the average size is pre-installed. Try them first and if they feel uncomfortable, you can replace them with a different size. There is no trick to take off the top of each AirPod, just drag to drag it and press to place another pair. You may feel like you’re going to tear it up, but from the few shifts I’ve made, they eventually separate.

Instructions for iPhone to use the AirPods Pro eartip fit test

The eartip fit test will tell you if you are using the right earbuds.

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Do the fit test on the top of the ears to find the best one

If you dive into the AirPods Pro settings, you can do the eartip fit test (try saying this out loud a few times). The test will reproduce some sounds using AirPods microphones and then tell you if the earbuds you have installed are the right size for your ears.

To run the test, open the Settings app on your iPhone, select Bluetooth, and tap “i” next to your AirPods Pro name. Select Eartip Fit Test and then follow the instructions.

I took the test with both medium and small ear tips and both passed. So don’t feel trapped in the first earplugs you test with; there may be another size that works and feels more comfortable.

Read more:

See the charging status when wirelessly charging the case

The case that comes with AirPods Pro will charge wirelessly on the same wireless charging pads that work with the iPhone. It also works with MagSafe chargers, it just won’t stick magnetically to the charger like the iPhone 12 or 13. Place the case on the pad with the small light up to start charging. The case indicator will light up the first time it is placed on the pad, notifying you that it is charging. However, it will eventually expire and shut down. Touch the case to check the charging status of the case (green means it is fully charged).

AirPods Pro has so much more; these others Tips and tricks apply to all AirPods, and should help you master your brand new wireless headphones. If you have a new iPhone, be sure to check these settings. Then learn how iOS 15 affects the way you use your headphones.

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