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AirPods Keep Pausing? 9 Causes and Fixes

AirPods Keep Pausing? 9 Causes and Fixes

The Apple AirPods are built to play when they are in your ear. However, sometimes, the AirPods can stop playing while you are wearing them. Not only is this problem one that can be pretty frustrating for you, but it could also signify there is a problem at hand here. So how exactly do you fix this issue? 

The Automatic Ear Detection service is the most likely culprit when Apple AirPods stop playing music. You can try and turn this option off or clean the proximity sensors. Other fixes include inspecting your device’s Bluetooth connection and restarting the device. 

While these are the common issues that might be disturbing you, each requires its own fix. Read through the rest of our detailed article so we explain how each of these issues (and more) can help you prevent pausing AirPods playing in your ear. 

What Causes AirPods To Pause?

The AirPods from Apple were revolutionary products when the company first introduced them. With wireless play, complete sound control, and transparency mode, they’ve significantly impacted users’ lives. However, issues with pausing AirPods can be distracting and frustrating.

In this section of the article, let’s learn about each problem that can cause your AirPods to pause. Plus, we’ll talk about how you can resolve each issue to troubleshoot completely.

Automatic Ear Detection

A standout feature introduced by Apple with the first generation of AirPods was Automatic Ear Detection. This fact means that the device can detect, using Proximity sensors (more on that later), if your AirPods are in your ears. By detecting this, the AirPods can start playing music when you have them in your ears and stop playing when you take them out.

There’s more to this feature. Not only does it ‘Auto Pause,’ but it also has another benefit – Ear Switching. If you’re listening to music and take one of the AirPods out, the sound immediately switches over to the other one. 

Photo: Dagny Reese 

If the music pauses while you have both AirPods in or stops playing in both ears when you take one out, this indicates a problem. You can disable Automatic Ear Detection to see if this is causing the issue. To do that:

  1. Open up the Settings App on your iPhone or other devices.
  2. Tap on the option to see your Bluetooth settings.
  3. Click on the ‘i’ or information next to the name of your AirPods. 
  4. You will find the option for ‘Automatic Ear Detection.’
  5. Toggle the option, so this feature is disabled. 

Disabling Automatic Ear Detection can also lead to some negative consequences. The ability to switch between AirPods is convenient, and it also helps you save on excessive battery use. Disabling this feature will impact the battery life of your AirPods. They will be playing music even when they aren’t in your eyes.

Proximity Sensors

When we talk about Proximity, there are two factors to consider. For one, how close you need to be to the device to continue to listen to the audio without it pausing. Secondly, whether the sensitive Proximity sensors in your ear accurately detect that they are in place.

In terms of distance, your AirPods can play music from about 30 feet to 60 feet away from the device. At the end of this spectrum, or if there are hurdles in the way, distance will affect sound quality. You may notice that the sound might get patchy or just stop playing altogether. 

Proximity sensors, on the other hand, are placed on your AirPods near the earpiece. These sensors are responsible for detecting objects that are much closer to them. Using infrared information, the sensors can deduce information like:

  • Whether you are wearing the AirPods.
  • If both AirPods are in your ear.
  • Whether you removed one of the AirPods. 

If Proximity sensors have dust gathering on them, their ability to deduce this information gets affected. They will no longer be able to tell if they are in your ear, which is why the music or audio will stop playing. However, all you need to do is clean out the proximity sensors. Use some cotton buds and isopropyl alcohol to clean the sensors gently. 

Related: Why Do Your AirPods and AirPods Pro Keep Flashing White?

Double-Tap Actions

Double-Tap Actions are available across a range of Apple devices and accessories. These actions allow you to customize and set actions that you can prompt when you double-tap the device. In some cases, the double-tap sets automatically to pause/play the music. 

You may unknowingly and accidentally tap the AirPods, causing them to stop playing music. You can customize what happens when you double-tap one of your AirPods. You can pause the content you’re playing by double-tapping, among other options. If this option was selected initially by you, you might be accidentally pausing your content by touching the AirPods.

You can change or set Double-Tap Actions in your Settings App and select alternative options for what double-tapping should trigger on your AirPods. 


Sometimes your AirPods might be pausing because there is a glitch in their connection to your device. There are several ways to deal with this issue. Since AirPods are connected to devices using a Bluetooth connection, you can simply try disconnecting and then reconnecting them again. 

Another option is to place the AirPods in their case for some time (around 30 seconds) and try connecting them to your device. You can manually reinforce a connection by selecting AirPods in the ‘Now Playing’ section in the device’s Control Center. 

Even your phone’s connectivity could be an issue. Try connecting and disconnecting the Bluetooth function of your device. You can put it on Airplane Mode, then switch Bluetooth on again.

Video Pausing Issues

In the case of AirPods, when playing a video, there may be other issues affecting the function of the AirPods. There might be an issue with the device or even the software you used to play the video. For example:

  1. Your device is not connecting to the AirPods correctly.
  2. Internet stability issues impact the device’s ability to play the video.
  3. The video playing software is not compatible with your AirPods.
  4. Smart Pause in Android devices is causing conflicts.

Try connecting your device to the Internet and the AirPods again to counteract these issues. On the other hand, you can try to troubleshoot using another device or Internet connection. If a video player was recently updated and didn’t connect to AirPods anymore, you can also switch back to the older version. 

Like the Double-tap feature in iOS, Android has a Smart Pause feature. This feature assigns a gesture through which the device can instruct a specific action. You can customize or disable this feature if it is causing a conflict with an Android device

Cleaning Needed

Because AirPods have such sensitive and small parts, a bit of debris or dirt can make a big difference to how it performs. Dirty AirPods will not be able to deliver the same quality as a clean one can, and they can become increasingly lower in volume. If you don’t clean the AirPods regularly, it can even cause lasting damage to its functionality. 

Especially the Proximity sensors mentioned above can get damaged from a lack of regular cleaning. The most significant danger to the sensors is a buildup of wax from your ear, which would make it harder for them to detect if you are wearing them or not. Wax buildup can also cause the audio to pause randomly as a result.

Here are some recommendations to clean your AirPods, as stated by Apple:

Photo: TipsMake
  • Never run your AirPods under direct water.
  • Use a soft cloth that is completely dry and free of lint.
  • In case of stains, wipe with a slightly damp cloth and then with a dry cloth. 
  • Never use any sharp materials, such as knives, to clean any part of your AirPods. 
  • You can use a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution to clean and disinfect surfaces.
  • Never use any of these on the speaker mesh of your AirPods. 

Maintain AirPods Battery Level

At low battery levels, your AirPods simply cannot work at their best level of functionality. When your AirPods are at low levels, you may see drastic changes to how the AirPods perform. For example, the sound may sputter and drift in and out. You may also have issues with the volume level or not be able to use the mics available through the AirPods. 

The worrying thing about low battery levels is that taking your AirPods to that point regularly can have a damaging impact on their battery life in the future. Once the battery level is about to run out, you may encounter ‘glitchy’ effects, so always make sure to keep your AirPods completely charged and follow good battery hygiene practices. 

The good news is that charging an AirPods will not take significant time out of your schedule. After all, the AirPods can charge pretty fast and be up and running again. So make sure to take the time needed to keep your AirPods charged. This precautionary measure will also protect your devices from damage in the future.

Restart Your iPhone

Due to constant changes in the iOS software, new updates, and the latest firmware, you may find that the issue is actually coming from your iPhone device instead. This conflict can just be a glitch that you can end up resolving by restarting or force restarting your phone. The way to do that depends on your iPhone series, but here are some guides.

For the iPhone X and ahead: 

  1. Press down on any of the Volume buttons and the Power button for some time.
  2. A Power slider will appear on your screen.
  3. Slide the Power slider to switch off your phone. 
  4. Wait for around 30 seconds so you can switch off your phone. 
  5. Once the phone has completely switched off, press down on the Power button until it starts again.

You can check out step-by-step guides for older phones here.

Check Other Devices

Most AirPods users will connect the devices to various Apple products. For example, you may have already connected them to your iPad, iPhone, and Mac. This feature becomes a problem when your AirPods attempt to switch between the devices, in a feature known as Automatic Switching.

Automatic Switching can be a helpful feature depending on how you are using your Apple products. Say you are watching a video on your iPad, and you get a call from your iPhone. The feature will detect that you have started using the other device, and your AirPods will immediately share sound from your iPhone instead of the iPad. 

There is a way to stop this in an easy and effective manner. For one, you can switch off your Bluetooth on the other devices so the AirPods can’t connect to them at all. The other method is to turn off Automatic Switching for some devices. To do this:

  1. Wear your AirPods and connect them to the device in question.
  2. In the Settings App, select the option ‘Bluetooth.’
  3. Under the list of devices, you will see the name of your AirPods.
  4. Select the ‘i’ (information) option next to the name. 
  5. Tap ‘Connect To This iPhone.’
  6. Now, tap on the option ‘When Last Connected to this iPhone.’

You have now turned off Automatic Switching. You can also always turn it back on by selecting ‘Automatically’ in the last step indicated above. 


There are many ways that your AirPods can face conflicts while playing audio for you. You can actually recognize most of these issues with a little bit of troubleshooting to identify the core problem at hand. However, the AirPods may just be damaged or defective in some cases. If that is the case, you cannot resolve the issue at home.

If none of these steps yield results, it may be time to visit an Apple Service Center or talk to a representative on the Customer Support Line. On the other hand, in most cases, you are just looking at a connectivity problem or a mishmash of unsuitable features causing trouble.