MacMost Now 911: iOS EarPods Controls

You may be surprised at how much you can do with the controls on your EarPods with your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. In addition to pausing music and changing the volume, you can also rewind and fast forward. You can also answer and refuse calls and activate Siri. You can even take a picture.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 911: iOS EarPods Controls.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's talk about the controls on your earbud and earpod headphones.

If you recently bought an iPhone or an iPod you got a set of earpod headphones from Apple and the older ones were called earbuds. But they all have the same controller on here at least for the last few years. It is a three button controller and there is a lot of things you can do with it that you may not know about.

Now of the three buttons the two obvious ones are the plus and minus. They are the controls for volume. Hit the plus button and you increase the volume and the minus button lowers the volume. As you probably figured out you can press and hold them and it will raise and lower the volume continuously so you can quickly silence your device by pressing the minus button and holding.

But the center button is where all the power is. There is a lot you can do with the center button. If you are using an iOS device you can use the center button to pause and resume music assuming you are listening to your music app. But it also works on most other audio playback apps. So if you are using say Spotify or Pandora or just about anything audible you can pause and resume using one quick press on the center button.

It is important to note that your device doesn't have to be unlocked and the app running in the front for this to work. You can start a song in the music app and go to another app and still use that center button to pause and resume with the music that is playing back and you can actually lock your device, put it in your pocket, and still use the center button to pause and resume music. So it is an input that works regardless of the mode that your device is in or whether or not the app playing the music at the time is in the front.

What else does the center button do? Well, if you press it quickly twice it will finish the current playing song and jump to the next one. So in your playlist or whatever you are doing it will just jump to the next one. Likewise you can go back to the previous one with three quick presses.

Now if you are in the middle of a song it will jump back to the beginning of the song you are listening to. If you do three quick presses again right there at the beginning of the song it will then return to the previous song. Not all apps have a previous song and you may actually be at the beginning of a playlist or something but in general you can use three to go back and two to go forward.

You can also fast forward and rewind inside of a song. To do that you do two presses but on the second press you hold down and as you are holding down now you will hear the music quickly advancing as you are fast forwarding. Likewise you can do three quick presses with the third one held down and start to rewinding and simply lift your finger up when you are done and get to the spot that you want.

If you are using your iPhone and get a phone call or even if you are using your iPad and say you get a FaceTime call you can actually use the center button to answer the call. Just press it once and it stops whatever music is playing and you are now speaking with the person that called.

If you want to refuse the call the way to do that is to press and hold for a second or two and then release and that will basically send the call directly to voicemail.

You can also use the center button to activate Siri on your iPhone or recent iPad. To do this at anytime, whether you are listening to music or not, you've got it plugged in you can press and hold down until you hear the Siri tone. Then you can speak using the microphone that's also in here on the other side of the controller. This way you can interact with Siri while leaving the iPhone in your pocket when you are say walking or running or biking or even driving you can activate it without actually even looking at the screen or having the device in your hand.

Now there is one more kind of hidden control in there. It involves the plus button, the volume up button. If you are running the camera app on your iPhone or iPad you can use this as the shutter release button instead of pressing the button on the screen. So this can help in a variety of situations.

For instance, you've got your iPad mounted on some sort of tripod device and you don't want to touch it to take a picture or you are kind of holding it away from you and using the rear facing camera to take a picture of yourself and you can't quite find the button with your finger because you can't see the screen. You can, of course, use the volume up button on the body of the device too but sometimes it is useful to have that control further away from the iPhone or in a tripod situation you are not actually touching or moving the tripod by physically interacting with the device.

Now you should note that I am talking about iOS devices like the iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone here. The controls actually do some different things if you are using the iPod shuffle. Because there is no screen on the iPod shuffle. So you can go to this document at Apple here if you missed this. This should have come with your iPod shuffle on a little description. There is all sorts of things you can do to interact with the iPod shuffle using these controls and the light on the shuffle itself.

Another cool thing you may not know about these controls is they also, for the most part, work if you plug them into your Mac. So if you use the earpods as the headphones for your Mac and you want to play and pause music you can use the center button for that. You can also use the up and down volume buttons and some of the various other controls to skip forward and rewind, etc. So these work on the Mac as well as on iOS devices.

I hope you found this useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 5 Responses to “MacMost Now 911: iOS EarPods Controls”

    Tony Schimenti
    6 years ago


    No matter how busy my day, I always take the time to watch your videos, there is typically a nugget in each one.

    How many folks didn’t realize they could snap a pic with the ear buds, how useful! Thanks

    Tom Dri
    6 years ago

    Who knew? I didn’t know that! Thanks for the snippets. I can’t wait to show off to all the apple fan friends that think they know everything Apple

    6 years ago

    Well done Gary, will make good use of those tips.
    Keep them coming

    Kevin Grishkot
    6 years ago

    I had no idea. Way cool.

    Brad Baskin
    6 years ago

    A light went on with the ear pod capability. Never would have known. Thanks for doing what you.

Comments Closed.