How to use an Apple AirTag

The Apple AirTag is used to track an item’s location and find it if lost. Here we show you how to set up and use an AirTag.

Siri User Guide
Siri User Guide

What are Apple AirTags?


AirTags are small, battery-powered devices that can be used to track almost anything, from keys, bags, and luggage, to pets or bikes (not people though, more on that later). You can use as many AirTags as you like, and they are all monitored using the Find My app on an iPhone.

An AirTag can be attached to the item you want to track using a loop or keychain, or hidden in a pocket or drawer. Accessories are already available to buy in many shapes, sizes, and colors from Apple and third-party manufacturers such as Belkin. They cost from around $12.95 to an eye-watering $699.00 for a handmade Hermes tag.

At that price, you might need another AirTag to track the accessory!

In this article we'll show you:

  • How to set up an AirTag using your iPhone
  • How to find an AirTag with the Find My app
  • How to use an AirTag to find a lost item
  • How to rename an AirTag
  • How to transfer the use of your AirTag to someone else
  • How to reset an AirTag
  • How to replace the battery in an AirTag
  • Stopping malicious use of an AirTag
Apple AirTag
Apple AirTag

How to set up an AirTag using your iPhone

To connect to an AirTag, you need an iPhone running iOS 14.5 or later. You pair it with your iPhone using Bluetooth, in the same way as AirPods.

Remove your AirTag from its box and casing, then peel off the plastic cover to activate the battery and turn on the device for the first time. You should hear a faint beeping sound to let you know the AirTag is ready to be paired with your iPhone.

  • Make sure that Bluetooth is enabled on your iPhone.
  • Hold the AirTag close to your iPhone, or place them close together on a table.
  • A message will automatically appear on the iPhone, prompting you to proceed with pairing.
  • Tap on Connect.
Hold the AirTag next to your iPhone to connect
Hold the AirTag next to your iPhone to connect

Next, you'll be asked to label your AirTag by selecting one from a list of suggestions or entering a custom name. This means you can ask Siri where your item is by saying something like:

Hey Siri, where are my keys?
Hey Siri, find my bike
  • Once you've chosen your preferred name, tap Continue.
  • When asked, tap on Continue again to register the AirTag with your Apple ID.

Your AirTag is now set up!

How to find an AirTag with the Find My app

If you know a tagged item is nearby but can't remember where you left it.

  • Open the Find My app on your iPhone.
  • Tap the Items tab at the bottom of the screen.
  • Select the item you want to track from the list, and a map will display the location of the item.
  • Tap on Play Sound to prompt the AirTag to play an audio alert.

If you know the device is within range (around 25-30 feet on average), tap on Directions to be guided towards the AirTag using graphics, animations, and moving arrows. The app will continually update to show you how far away and in which direction the item is situated.

Use the Find My app to locate an AirTag
Use the Find My app to locate an AirTag

How to use an AirTag to find a lost item

This is where the AirTag could come in very useful indeed.

Say you lose something and don't know where it is. You might have left your bag on public transport or misplaced your keys sometime in the day and have no idea where or when. What do you do?

The first step is the mark your item as Lost.

  • Open the Find My app on your iPhone.
  • Tap the Items tab at the bottom of the screen.
  • Select the item you want to track from the list.
  • Scroll down and tap on Lost Mode.

When activated, Lost Mode will:

  • Notify you when the item's location is available (more on that in a moment).
  • Lock the AirTag so it can't be paired with another iPhone.
  • Prompt you to enter your phone number and message, so if someone finds the item, they can contact you.

When marked as lost, the Find My Network is used to track down your device. If someone walks past your lost item and has an Apple iOS device connected to the Find My network, you will be notified of its location. All this is done anonymously and privately.

If someone finds your item and wants to return it to you, they can:

  • Open the Find My app on their iPhone.
  • Tap the Items tab at the bottom of the screen.
  • Scroll down and tap on Identify Found Item.

The message and phone number you submitted earlier will appear on their iPhone, allowing them to contact you.

If the person who finds your item is using an Android device, they can simply hold it close to the AirTag and be directed to a website that displays your message and phone number.

How to rename an AirTag

You might want to give your AirTag a new name if you want to attach it to a different item, or have mislabelled it. To rename the AirTag:

  • Open the Find My app on your iPhone.
  • Tap the Items tab at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap to select the item you want to track from the list.
  • Swipe up to display all the information about the AirTag.
  • Tap on Rename Item and choose a new name.
  • Tap Done.
Rename an AirTag
Rename an AirTag

How to transfer the use of your AirTag to someone else

AirTags are generally meant to be used by one person, but there may be times when you no longer need a tag or would like to loan it to someone you know temporarily.

You will need to disconnect the AirTag from your iCloud account to allow it to be activated by another person.

  • Open the Find My app on your iPhone.
  • Tap the Items tab at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap to select the item you want to track from the list.
  • Swipe up to display all the information about the AirTag.
  • Tap on Remove Item and choose a new name.
  • Tap Remove.
Remove an AirTag
Remove an AirTag

Done! The AirTag can now be set up with another user, as new.

Removing an AirTag out of Bluetooth range

If the AirTag is outside Bluetooth range or in another location, you'll have to wait a little longer for the Remove option to appear, along with an AirTag Not Found warning.

If an AirTag is removed when outside of Bluetooth range, it will need to be reset.

How to reset an AirTag

Resetting an AirTag is quite involved compared to other steps in this guide. Note, an AirTag can only be reset if it has already been unpaired by the previous owner.

  1. Push in on the metal disk on the back of the AirTag, twisting it to the left as you do so.
  2. The disk should pop off.
  3. Remove the battery.
  4. Replace the battery until you hear a beeping sound.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 an additional five times (so six times in total).
  6. After the sixth time, leave the battery in and replace the metal disk cover by aligning the three slots on the back and pressing down, rotating the disk to the right to lock it in place.

If the reset has worked, holding the AirTag next to your iPhone will prompt the connect screen.

How to replace the battery in an AirTag

Apple says the AirTag battery life is 12 months and is very easily replaced when it runs out. Your iPhone will notify you when it needs replacing.

Push in on the metal disk on the back of the AirTag, twisting it to the left as you do so. The back will pop off, allowing you to remove and replace the battery, currently a standard CR3032—a typical battery used in these types of devices.

Stopping malicious use of an AirTag

What happens if someone tries to use an AirTag for nefarious purposes, such as tracking someone without their knowledge?

It seems Apple has thought of that. If an AirTag that doesn't belong to you is found to be close to you and following you around, you'll receive a notification warning you that an unrecognized AirTag has been detected nearby.

You'll be given the option to disable the AirTag and stop it from transmitting your location.

To prevent false positives, if the person who owns the other AirTag is with you (such as traveling in a car), you won't receive a notification because the person's iPhone is nearby. If the person leaves and the AirTag is left with you, you will start getting notifications.

You'll be alerted if an AirTag is detected nearby
You'll be alerted if an AirTag is detected nearby

Want to discover more about using Siri, Apple’s popular virtual assistant? We’ve written a helpful collection of tutorials full of techniques for using apps, dictation, using Siri Shortcuts, and a comprehensive beginner’s guide to activating and using Siri.

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