How to quickly switch noise-canceling modes on AirPods Pro

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Consumer Reports thinks AirPods Pro are great, but not Galaxy Buds great
Consumer Reports thinks AirPods Pro are great, but not Galaxy Buds great
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

You don’t need to dig into the Settings app every time you want to change the noise canceling settings of your AirPods Pro. There are two other ways to toggle setting which are much, much faster. Let’s check them out.

The AirPods Pro have three options for noise cancelation. There’s the regular Active Noise Cancelation (ANC), Transparency Mode (which mixes ambient sound into the music output), and Off.

There are two easy ways to switch between these various noise-canceling modes.

Switch noise-canceling modes with the force sensor

This is the most direct option. Just long-squeeze either AirPod Pro stem, and it will cycle through the three different modes. If you want to customize the available modes, or even switch one of the stems to activate Siri instead, we have a how-to article on that, right here

When you switch, a chime will sound to let you know the mode has switched. Each mode has it’s own distinct chime, so you can learn to navigate the modes by sound alone

The other option is to use the volume slider in Control Center on your connected iPhone or iPad. Just open up the Control Center (swipe down from the top right corner of the screen on X-class iPhones, or up from the bottom of the screen on iPhones with home buttons), and then long press the volume slider.

You’ll see the following options:

Change the ANC settings in Control Center.
Change the ANC settings in Control Center.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Switch noise-canceling modes in Control Center

From here, you can easily pick the noise-canceling mode you want, just by tapping on its icon. You can also slide a finger over the row of icons to switch modes.

One note: these options are all available from the AirPods Pro Settings page, inside the Bluetooth settings on your iPhone. But that’s just abut the slowest way to access them.

Noise-canceling tips

If you’re in a quiet environment, you may as well switch off ANC altogether. This will save battery life, and make you feel less isolated from outside sounds. I love noise-canceling headphones when I’m out in the street, but when I’m at home, I find it spooky.

Another good reason to use ANC is that it lets you listen to music at a lower volume. Instead of cranking up the levels to drown out traffic noise, you can let the ANC take care of the noise, and lower the volume of the music. It’ll be easier to hear, sound better, and will cause less damage to your hearing over time.

As for the transparency mode, I never got on with it in any other headphones, and I don’t think the AirPods Pro will be any different. With one exception. I never wear any kind of headphones while riding a bike, because it’s just to dangerous. But I do sometimes wear a single AirPod, loosely-fitted, to hear turn-by-turn directions.

Turn-by-turn on a bike is an amazing safety booster, because it lets you concentrate on the road, not on your route. The sealed-in AirPods Pro will cut out too much ambient noise, but a single AirPod Pro, in transparency mode, seems ideal.

Anyway, stay safe, and enjoy your new AirPods Pro.