How to Guilt a Stranger Into Returning Your Lost AirPods

How to Guilt a Stranger Into Returning Your Lost AirPods
Photo: Ltoledo245, Shutterstock

Two hundred dollar wireless earbuds are great. Until you lose them.

I long resisted buying nice earbuds, even back in the heady days of the omnipresent headphone jack. I know myself, and I know how likely I am to lose my headphones, or wash them with the laundry, or see them destroyed by a child or dog. But my preferred solution (buy cheap wired headphones and use them until they break) became less tenable when I switched to a jackless iPhone and also had to keep track of a dongle. Plus, I just felt bad bout all that tech waste — $US5 ($7) headphones will break in weeks but sit in a landfill forever.

So I switched to wireless Bluetooth headphones. I started off with varying models of cheap AirPod clones for reasons (see above), and did indeed proceed to lose, damage, or wear out multiple pairs (well, technically the one that dropped down a subway grate isn’t lost). Again feeling guilty about all that e-waste (which now includes multiple now-useless charging cases as well as the buds themselves), I decided to spend a little more on some Beats Studio Buds, because they’re Apple-owned and thus work with the “Find My” device recovery system. Unfortunately this method requires the headphones to be out of the case and within Bluetooth range, but it’s not nothing. (Though it’s worth noting that this capability will get a lot better in iOS 15 — but only for the AirPods Pro or AirPods Max. Alas.)

Even with the increased protection of Find My (not to mention the anxiety-induced vigilance that comes with not wanting to lose pricier earbuds), I still very well may lose my latest l’il buds — so I’ll also be taking advantage of a tip that came up in the comments of a recent Lifehacker post about all the cool things your AirPods Pro can do (though this tip applies to any Bluetooth device you connect to your phone):

Screenshot: Joel Cunningham Screenshot: Joel Cunningham

I don’t know if Roncore innovated this idea, but it’s news to me, and pretty brilliant. It’s supremely easy to rename wireless devices in your Bluetooth settings whether you use iOS or Android. Instead of calling them something cute (my previous earbud monikers include “smolpods” and the aforementioned “l’il buddies”), rename them to match your email address. It’s no guarantee that whoever might find them will notify you after attempting to connect them to their phone — but it at least makes it possible for them to do so easily. Try appealing to their sense of decency and guilt, is what I am saying.

How to rename Bluetooth devices in iOS

Screenshot: Joel Cunningham Screenshot: Joel Cunningham

1. Open the Settings app and tap Bluetooth.

2. Connect your earbuds (or any other device/accessory) if you haven’t done so already.

3. Tap the circle with the lowercase “i” next to your earbuds’ current name.

4. Tap into the “Name” field at the top and enter your email address, and tap “Done.”

How to rename Bluetooth devices on Android

As with any Android device, your instructions may vary, but the general process goes as follows:

1. Open your Settings app.

2. Navigate to Connected Devices > Bluetooth (or Connected Devices > Connection preferences > Bluetooth on some devices).

3. Tap “Device name” (or, for some devices, tap the three dots next to your earbuds in the list of connected devices to open the device settings).

4. Change the earbuds’ name to your email address and tap “OK” (or, on some devices, “Rename” or “Save.”)

 

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