Getting Apple earbuds to stay in your ears

I am intensely curious… just who did Apple design earbuds for?

Like most Apple products, they are a combination of minimalist beauty and excellent functionality, but as far as I can tell, they weren’t designed for humans.  Or at least not humans who live on Earth.  You see, here on Earth, we have this force called gravity that pulls things down – this affects anything with mass, even those lightweight earbuds.

Not to worry, if you jam them hard enough in your ear, you can create enough tension to hold them in place.  And that works great until you stand up and try to walk somewhere with them.  There happen to be are these wires that come out of the earbuds to connect them down to your music playing device.  Not only do they add an additional gravitational tug,  but they allow every vibration or jostle as you walk to help pull the earbuds out of their snug fit, at which point they fall to the ground.

I don’t think I have managed to walk more than 10 feet without having to shove an earbud back in my ear.

I was briefly excited when Apple rolled out their new “earpods”, which provided both superior sound quality and an enhanced shape to more comfortably fit in your ear.

They

They “broadcast” music into your ear, and the shape is supposed to help them fit better.

Sure, the new earpod shape is technically better than the old one.  Now I can probably make it 15 feet before having to shove them back in, which I guess is a big improvement over 10 feet, but still not much use.

I see people walking down the street wearing earbuds or earpods, and I’m incredulous.  How do they keep them in their ears?  Are my ears so unusual?  Why can’t Apple just make them with hooks?  I am certainly guilty of choosing form over function at times, but having your headphones stay on your ears is a pretty essential feature.

Well, I have finally found a solution – EARBUDi.  They are hooks that simply snap onto Apple earpods (they have an earbud version as well) and loop over the outside of your ear.

UPDATED 2015: I’ve actually switched to recommending Earhoox instead of Earbudi. Read more about why Earhoox work better here.

They just attach to the earpods (from the earbudi.com website)

They just attach to the earpods (from the earbudi.com website)

The hooks counteract the jostling from the wires that causes earpods to pop out, and they are really quite comfortable.  You no longer have to jam the earpods in so hard, and they still stay in even if you are physically active.  They’ve become my preferred way to listen to podcasts while walking or make a phone call on my iPhone while keeping my hands free.

They cost $10 on Amazon, so they represent a non-trivial added cost over the earpods’ $30 price tag.

Of course, the alternative would be to buy a separate set of headphones that already have over-the-ear hooks, but these have the benefit of allowing you to continue to use the microphone and music controls that come built into the Apple headphones.  Okay, I’m sure that someone sells over-the-ear headphones that have Apple compatible music controls and a microphone, but you probably already own the Apple headphones anyways.

If someone has another trick for getting earpods to stay in that doesn’t involve a similar attachment or plastic surgery, please let me know – I’m all ears.

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37 Responses to Getting Apple earbuds to stay in your ears

  1. Jessica says:

    I saw an indiegogo project with a similar product called earhoox. http://www.indiegogo.com.earhoox

  2. Jessica says:

    haha I’m such a computer noob… it’s http://www.indiegogo.com/earhoox

  3. Deborah Rothman says:

    This is the answer to my dreams. I thought I was the only one who couldn’t keep the Apple ear pods on. Better yet, this piece is so beautifully written it deserves to be published. Way to go.

  4. Beth N says:

    Yes, thank you! I was about to be very sad that I was the only person in San Francisco with weird ears. Great post and helpful even 6 months later. Yay!

  5. Larry Ensor says:

    I have found flipping them over so you have to put the right pod in your left ear, right to left, and run the wire around and down the back of your ear works really well for me. I also wear ear protection “head phones” when I am mowing or using loud equipment and they fit under much better and sound great. Much better then any other ear buds I have used over the years.
    You do run the risk of people telling you that you are wearing them the wrong way.

  6. Got my first Apple earbuds today. After twenty minutes I wanted to throw them away.
    After some testing I found exchanging left and right plugs helped. If you’re not picky about which audio channel goes where, that night work.
    Alternatively, the design may require squeaky clean ears that do not exude ant oils or other fluids, in which case a bottle of isopropyl alcohol and some cotton swabs might be worth toting around.
    Lastly, and perhaps more realistically, some sort of high friction coating on the part that makes contact with the skin may reduce drops. Something like contact cement will work I would think.
    The earphones I’ve used ( actually only one other set ) had removable latex cups that made contact with the inside of the ear. Tge only problem with that is the possibility of one coming off in an ear. I’ve done that and had to govto a doctor to get it removed. If the latex is a permanent part of the earpieces then that might be the answer.
    As I type this into my iPhone, the earbuds, left and right interchanged are hokding wothout any sign of coming lose.

    Jim Julian

  7. I discovered the left-right thing as well. All I need to do is rewire the iPhone jack or the earbuds plug.
    If I carry some cotton swabs and alcohol around and keep my ears squeaky clean, that might work.
    I had a set of earphones with removable latex cups that had enough friction and flexibility to keep them in place.
    I may try coating part of the Apple earbuds with a high fiction substance like contact cement. That would duplicate the high friction component but not the flexibility.
    Thanks for the article. I wanted to throw my earbuds away after twenty minutes. They are the first apple set I’ve ever bought. Apple products seem to have some quirky eccentricities in design occasionally.

    Thanks again.

    • justin davis says:

      Go ahead, re-wire the iphone jack. Apple loves it when you customize their engineering!
      These earbuds are terrible! They provide no type of noise cancellation. At my work, i sit right below an ambient noise machine for my floor… even just the typing of the keyboard clicks through whatever i’m listening to. My $10 sony earbuds provide more quality. Lastly, it feels like the buds feel like they’re constantly falling out. A very strange sensation. I’m trying to give them a chance, but I’ll probably switch back.

  8. Acy says:

    Thanks for mentioning this Jeremy!
    Nice to know I wasn’t the only one having problems with ipod ear buds that fell out and impossible to keep in place. Also the plastic buds irritated inside my ears I solved the problem by just buying an inexpensive pair of Sennheiser headphones at the office supply store. They have a soft foam cushion around each ear with a lightweight head piece. Perfect for walking, jogging and running. No accidental turning your head and tugging the wire out. You don’t even know you’re wearing them. The sound is ‘acceptable’ considering the low cost and wearing the a short time! The ear buds were a cheap, stupid idea to begin with..

  9. Marty says:

    Buying a pair right now. You rock.

  10. JJdeadhead says:

    Unbelievable!!!!!!!! I have 4 pair of earpods laying around (came with ipods, iphones etc) collecting dust because they ere falling out with the slightest movement. I spent another day here searching for solutions. This blog was the FIRST mention that I found about switching ears and looping the wires around the ears. So simple and for me it is perfect. I even tried tugging (not a hard yank) on them and the stayed in place. Thank you so much Jeremy.

    • Larry Ensor says:

      I forget how I stumbled on this blog. And it is Jeremy blog. But I was the one who suggested, figured out./discovered that flipping/switching takes care of the “design” issues. And doesn’t cost anything. I doubt I am/was the only “MacGyver” to come up with a “quick fix”. But it seems one of the few to post a comment on the internet about a different way to use them. I’m a big fan of “Ockham’s razor” aka “Occam’s razor”
      which basically means, the simplest solution is usually the best solution.

      I would bet this “idea” of how to approach/solve something would drive engineers crazy. No disrespect to engineers intended.
      No disrespect to Jeremy but a little credit when credit is due would have been appreciated.

  11. Robert Stevens says:

    Really want to solve the problem? Get a set of Bose Noise Cancelling headphones. They fit over the ears, won’t fall out, and the sound is the greatest, especially on an airplane where I can’t hear anything with the phones that came with my iPhone.

  12. dan401 says:

    Robert Stevens… not for $300-600!!!

  13. Claymonster says:

    Apple earbuds, pods, whatever they’ve decided to call them this week are useless. The audio quality is decent, but the physical design is horrible. But as is Apple’s philosophy, their ways soooo superior to everyone else. No room for customization or even different sizes because – APPLE KNOWS BEST. I have thrown out every set that has come with the products. They will not stay in my ears no matter what, and I really don’t think I have some deformed ear canal. A little smaller than the average (or at least smaller than Apple fanboys, apparently) – but Apple is so dead set on locking everything they do down because they know oh-so-much-better-than you.

  14. Getting the earhoox ASAP 🙂 I like the sound quality, and windows phone compatibility (who would have thunk it!!?) of apple earpods…thanks for the plug (pun intended).

  15. Malecislife816 says:

    I know a way to keep them in your ears if you have an Instagram dm me and I’ll send you a picture

  16. Kees says:

    Try putting R bud in L ear and the other way around. Mine fit snugly now without noticeable sound quality diff.for most music reversal of stereo channels doesnt make much of a difference

  17. garrison says:

    Put them in upside down with cord dropping behind head and run it under your shirt. Works for me. Or just get different headphones.

  18. T. Riz says:

    I think they were designed by taking a mold of Steve Jobs’ decomposing ear or something. They are terrible!!

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  25. Toby says:

    I am so blown away by all the issues people are having. For me Apples earpods work perfectly and hardly ever fall out. I can’t wait for the Airpods to come out. One thing I like best about apples earpods is that they are hard plastic and don’t feel like they are clogging up my ear like every other type out there. All others (that I have seen) are rubber and fit too snuggly in the ear and feel aweful to me, they feel like they are clogging up my ears and cause me to have ear aches. Maybe I have unusual ears, I don’t know, but I apple earbuds are the only in ear headphones that I can stand to use.

  26. Hello says:

    So I used blu-tack and ‘moulded’ it around the earpiece, it grips your ear and you can form it to the dimensions you like

  27. Bob says:

    I just reverse the budsby putting the right bud in the left ear and the left bud in the right ear. They work perfectly in this fashion.

  28. Chris says:

    Sooo the question that I can not find an answer to remains why are they shaped that way. It fits I’m guessing 25% of the population. They look great but their functionality is horrible. I thought Apple prided itself in combining style and quality with functionality.

  29. Susan says:

    I have the same problem they just fall out but I see other people n they have no problem keeping them in!

  30. Brian Veit says:

    THANK YOU for this! Well said. I feel like apple is really blowing it. My “work around” is to use the wireless earbuds with the squishy Buds that insert into the ear canal and then expand. It has better bass response and blocks out background noise better. Other advantages are that it doesn’t put excess lateral pressure on your charging jack. Disadvantage is that it relies on weak batteries that need constant recharge so you need two sets.

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