A key advantage of Apple’s AirPods over other wireless earbuds is their intuitive touch controls. With just quick squeezes or double taps right on the earbuds, you can control music playback, activate Siri, answer calls, and more.
- AirPods Pro – The Complete Guide
- AirPods Through the Washing Machine Cycle, What can you do?
- How Can I Make My Apple AirPods Louder?
- How To Check AirPods Battery Status on iPhone, Watch, Mac, and even Android
- AirPods Not Working? Troubleshoot Your Problems
However, mastering the nuances of these touch controls takes some practice. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover how to perfectly execute AirPods squeezes and double taps to avoid misfires or no response at all.
Whether using regular AirPods or noise-cancelling AirPods Pro models, tweak these techniques for flawlessly responsive touch performance every time. Let’s dive in!
- Understanding AirPods Touch Controls
- Unlock Your Device
- Location Matters
- How’s it Work?
- Customize your AirPods Pro’s force sensor
- Choose Your Double Tap Function for AirPod Series 1&2
- But Size Doesn’t Matter
- Refining Double Tap Sensitivity
- Troubleshooting AirPods Double Tap Issues
Understanding AirPods Touch Controls
Before optimizing tap and squeeze gestures, it helps to understand exactly how AirPods read touch input. Sensors on the stem and in-ear housing detect pressure changes from squeezes or taps on specific areas:
- Force Sensors – AirPods Pro has force sensors in stems detecting squeezes for noise cancellation and transparency modes.
- Accelerometers – All AirPods models contain accelerometers registering double taps on the sides of housings.
- Optimal Trigger Zones – For best response, tap nearer the top of AirPod near the microphone. Squeeze closer to the tip.
Now let’s hone those gestures for perfect execution!
Unlock Your Device
Before you do anything else, unlock your iDevice and then try your AirPod Double Tap or Squeeze.
When the screen is off double tapping and squeezing don’t do a darn thing!
If your screen is asleep (black) then your iDevice is in what Apple calls a locked state. Press the Home or Power button or swipe up to awake it and unlock it.
Then try squeezing or double-tapping your AirPods!
But there is a method to the AirPod Double Tapmadness. And it’s all about location (location, location!) Perfecting your Squeeze or Double Tap means you’re tapping in the correct location.
For AirPods Pro
For folks using Apple’s Pro AirPods model, that place is between the AirPod head and the end of the stem–you should see and feel an indentation. That’s your AirPod Pro’s force sensor.
- Squeeze once to play or pause music
- Squeeze once when a call is incoming to answer the call
- Squeeze twice to skip forward on a track
- Squeeze three times to skip back on a track
- Squeeze and hold that squeeze to switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode
And yes, it takes practice to get this down!
For AirPods Series 1 & 2
That special spot is just above the stem but below the top slit speaker. Not on the stem or above that speaker.
It takes some patience and a little time but the payoff is consistent AirPod Double Tap return.
So follow the mantra “practice makes perfect.”
Try your ear lobe instead!
One of our readers suggests tapping on the back of your ear instead of on the AirPod itself.
For us, it works like a charm!
How’s it Work?
The AirPod Squeeze or Double Tap works using its built-in motion accelerometer. This accelerometer allows the AirPod to know when you squeeze the force sensor or tap it twice to activate Siri, Play/Pause, Next or Previous Track, or Off (depending on how you set-up it up.)
Your AirPods feature some amazing tech in such a small package.
Customize your AirPods Pro’s force sensor
- Go to Settings > Bluetooth
- Tap the “i” next to your AirPods Pro
- Locate Press and Hold AirPods and choose Left or Right
- Choose how you want your AirPod Force Sensor to work–Noise Cancellation or Siri
- When you select Noise Cancellation, you get additional options when you squeeze
- Check or uncheck which options you want
- To activate, press and hold the AirPods Pro force sensor on the stem of an AirPod until you hear a chime
For the AirPods Pro, its Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode work best when you run the Ear Tip Fit Test to ensure your AirPods Pro fit your ear size best.
Choose Your Double Tap Function for AirPod Series 1&2
It’s very important to know what the double-tap does.
To set your AirPods’ double-tap functionality, open your AirPods case or place one in your ear and go to Settings > Bluetooth > Your AirPods and tap the “i” next to your AirPods name.
Locate the section DOUBLE-TAP ON AIRPODS and choose the options you want. For folks using iOS 10, your options are limited to Siri, Play/Pause, or Off.
This sets the default for both the left and right AirPods.
iOS 11+ AirPod Additional Double Tap Options for Left AND Right!
For folks using iOS 11 and higher, you have some additional options for Next Track and Previous Track as well as Siri, Play/Pause, and Off.
And you can set the left AirPod with a different function than the right AirPod.
For example, you set your Right AirPod’s Double Tap to Play/Pause while your left AirPod’s Double Tap advances to the Next Track or invokes Siri.
This additional functionality is a nice added touch to iOS!
But Size Doesn’t Matter
You heard it here. Just because your AirPods are small doesn’t mean they are brittle or fragile. Don’t treat them with kid-gloves; use a firm tap, not a light pat.
Squeeze with a bit of force or double-tap like when you are tapping numbers into a calculator or playing piano keys. Go ahead and tap your AirPods that firmly. In my attempts to get this right, I learned that I needed to tap a lot harder to get steady results.
So squeeze or tap harder than you think necessary, and you’ll probably get better, more consistent results.
Wouldn’t it be great if Apple added a sensitivity selector, similar to the 3D Touch Sensitivity Selector, with options for light, medium, and firm tapping?
None of us would need “schooled” on how to do the AirPod Squeeze or Double Tap!
Well, there’s some good news, folks using iOS 13 or iPadOS have some additional sensitivity options for their squeeze! Just head to accessibility settings.
Change your AirPods’s press speed and duration
- Visit Settings > Accessibility
- Scroll down and tap AirPods (if you don’t see this option, make sure your AirPods are connected)
- To manually change, under Press Speed and Press and Hold Duration choose an option other than the default
And for AirPods Pro users, if you want to enable Noise Cancellation with One AirPod, toggle it on so when only have one AirPod in your ear, noise cancellation still works!
Refining Double Tap Sensitivity
Double tapping triggers convenient playback controls, but overly sensitive or unresponsive taps are frustrating.
- Test Tapping Pressure – Start gently and gradually increase firmness until finding the activation sweet spot.
- Avoid Triple Taps – Double tap swiftly without pauses to prevent accidentally queueing extra taps.
- Use Both Sides – Either AirPod housing activates double tap equally well.
- Enable Custom Controls – Adjust what each ear’s double tap does individually in Bluetooth settings.
With refined double-tap mastery, you’ll effortlessly control music and calls!
Troubleshooting AirPods Double Tap Issues
If still struggling with double taps after practice, try these advanced troubleshooting tips:
- Check Fit – Improperly sealed ear tips prevent AirPods from sensing tap vibrations. Reseat for better contact.
- Toggle Sensors Off/On – Disable then re-enable double tap setting to reset and recalibrate.
- Update Firmware – Outdated AirPods firmware can glitch double tap reliability until updated.
- Reset AirPods – Factory reset AirPods if calibration bugs persist despite firmware updates.
Stuck double taps should now work smoothly!
Troubleshooting AirPods Pro Squeeze Issues
Are fussy squeeze controls giving you grief? Attempt these advanced fixes:
- Check Sensor Cleanliness – Gently clean stem sensors in case dirt/debris is blocking squeeze detection.
- Toggle Settings Off/On – Like double tap, disable then re-enable squeeze controls to reset.
- Update Firmware – Outdated firmware can scramble and squeeze reliability until updated to the latest.
- Try Different Tips – Improper tip seal and fit prevent squeeze vibrations transmitting to sensors.
- Reset AirPods – If all else fails, factory reset AirPods Pro to revive glitchy squeeze detection.
With refined technique and these troubleshooting tips, you’ll perfect those squeeze controls!
It takes practice to perfectly execute AirPods double taps and squeezes every time. But with touch sensor mastery along with custom controls schemes, you gain effortless command of music, calls, and Siri.
So put these AirPods tapping and squeezing optimization tips to work for responsively intuitive controls without even needing to pull out your iPhone! They’ll feel like natural extensions of your body in no time.
For most of her professional life, Amanda Elizabeth (Liz for short) trained all sorts of folks on how to use media as a tool to tell their own unique stories. She knows a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides!
Her clients include Edutopia, Scribe Video Center, Third Path Institute, Bracket, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Big Picture Alliance.
Elizabeth received her Master of Fine Arts degree in media making from Temple University, where she also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member in their department of Film and Media Arts.