Why Are My Cheap AirPod Knockoffs Not Pairing With My Mac?

Bluetooth is a handy AF when it works, and annoying troubleshooting when it doesn’t work. In theory, it should just … always work. One device connects to the other, they communicate seamlessly as long as both are on, saving you the hassle of having to deal with annoying cords and cables. It’s simple, right?

Not much, says Lifehacker managing editor Joel Cunningham in this week’s issue for Tech 911 . He’s writing:

“I have dreamed of a pair of AirPods for years, but I also don’t believe myself that I won’t lose the $ 250 earbuds, so I have a pair of one of the many generic simulators currently available. I bought my Apple clones at Target for about $ 50 and I’m mostly happy with the build and sound quality and they work great with my phone, but … I can’t get them to pair with my 2017 Macbook Pro. If I put the headphones into pairing mode and open the Bluetooth setting on my laptop, they appear in the list of nearby devices. Clicking on them changes the status to “connected” and I hear a tone in my headphones, but then they disconnect immediately before they even start transmitting the sound of what I’m listening to.

I know there are tons of fake AirPods out there, and I’m sure you don’t have access to the same ones that I have from Target, but I’m wondering if there are any standard troubleshooting solutions to try when Are bluetooth headphones giving you problems? “

Troubleshooting until you turn blue (tooth) in your face

I fully understand your frustration. Again, connecting devices via Bluetooth should be simple, easy, and convenient – that’s the only reason you want to use a wireless connection instead of a cable. Bluetooth should save you time and hassle, not create unnecessary ones. But here we’re stuck with a couple of AirPods wannabes that just don’t work with your MacBook.

My first thought is that Apple knows that you are trying to get by without the 3-digit numbers for real AirPods. As a result, the company punishes you for your insolence from afar.

In fact, the problem is probably much simpler. It is likely that your $ 50 headphones were not created or tested to be compatible. These are cheap headphones. As a result, they are a little more like “you get what you pay for”. Bluetooth itself is finicky enough that I wouldn’t assume that every inexpensive Bluetooth device will work with everything else right out of the box. In theory, they should , but there are no guarantees (as you now understand).

As far as your specific wireless earbuds go, I actually found someone complaining about a similar compatibility issue on the Target website:

Before we get into troubleshooting – if there are any – I wanted to report this first. It is very important to exercise due diligence when purchasing new gadgets. This is even more true if the price of the item is your primary motivator; Or to put it another way, if you’re looking for cheap gear, you need to do a bit of work so you don’t waste your money.

There is nothing wrong with inexpensive tech gadgets. Before I had to pull the trigger on something cheap (or a blatant counterfeit of a more expensive product), I would go through all the reviews I can find at places like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, etc. to Please confirm that I am not buying a crappy product with compatibility issues.

I understand that it can be difficult to get a general idea of ​​the stability of a gadget by reading online reviews. This can often be a little more frustrating, as people are more likely to shit on foods that annoy them than compliment foods that worked well for them. But you can certainly get a general idea of ​​the problems other users have encountered with gadgets. This is important data that you can then use to gauge the degree of risk you are willing to take with your potential purchase. You can usually see if there are people with such a configuration problem with the fact that you want to buy. If you see a lot of reviews like this, you might want to stay away from the element, especially if there aren’t any obvious steps others have taken to get it to work.

What You Can Do With A Fussy Bluetooth Gadget

My first thought is that you will want to make sure that your MacBook Pro is fully up to date with the latest operating system offered by Apple – macOS Catalina at the time of this writing. And of course, you’ll want to follow your earbuds’ instructions to put them into pairing mode and then search for them using the Bluetooth icon in the Mac taskbar and the Bluetooth section in System Preferences. It is possible that pairing does not work in one scenario, but it will work fine in another.

You can also try resetting your Mac Bluetooth module. Hold Shift + Option and click the Bluetooth icon in the taskbar, and the Reset screen should appear. (It might also be in the Debug menu, depending on your version of macOS.)

Click on it and try pairing again after the reset is complete. With any luck, this might help your bluetooth headphones connect.

If not – and I suspect you will be in this camp – you can always try the general “reset PRAM and / or SMC ” advice that everyone gives. One might help, but I suspect the flaw is greater in your headphones than in your MacBook. However, it never hurts to turn every stone over when troubleshooting.

Have you tried to disconnect your Bluetooth headphones from all other devices? There might be something weird going on that prevents your Mac (or your headphones) from seeing each other if the latter are already connected to, say, your iPhone, iPad, or other device. This is another long chance, but I would try just in case. Also, you don’t use any other Bluetooth devices at the same time with your MacBook, do you? This could be the source of your problem; I’m not sure if this matters, but at the moment we are in the last territory.

Finally, you can bite the bullet and try purchasing a non-original Bluetooth adapter for your Mac. Yes, you’ll have to spend a little more – making it a little worthwhile to buy cheap headphones to some extent – but that might be all you need to successfully pair them with your MacBook.

I would order the said adapter from a retailer with a great return policy and carefully open that box when you receive it, just in case that doesn’t work and you need to return it. And when using the adapter, you might lose some of your Mac’s standard features like AirDrop and / or Handoff. If that works, could your new adapter cause other nasty compromises that make your cheap headphones almost not worth the hassle? But that’s just me. Kill me if they work for you!


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