This Easy $8 Hack Eliminates the Most Frustrating Thing About Earbuds

updated Jul 23, 2020
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someone picking up earbuds from table

If you’ve ever owned wireless earbuds, you know the unique frustration of somehow getting the left and right ones messed up—whether you’re putting them back in their case or putting them in your ears. Every time, you think that this is the time you’ll get it correct on the first try and every time, you are wrong. Now, in the grand scheme of things, this is the tiniest of tiny problems—a mildly annoying blip over the course of any given day. However, it’s still annoying. The kind of thing that might make a harried pre-Zoom-meeting moment derail your mood. And what’s more, it’s completely avoidable! 

First off: Most earbuds are labeled with a subtle “R” or “L” to easily tell them apart. But sometimes, that mark might be too subtle—especially if you have vision problems. If you’d rather have a more obvious indicator that doesn’t involve scanning each earbud for a tiny gray letter, there’s a $5 hack you can try.

Many earbuds have removable ear tips—the rubbery silicone parts that stick into your ears—so users can mix and match sizes and find just the right fit. But you can use this interchangeability to your advantage to eliminate that “which one’s which” problem. Simply buy a place of replacement ear tips in a different color than your existing ones and then mix and match them. This way, you’ll always know at a glance that the pink-tipped earbud goes in your right ear, and in the right side of the case. It’s an instinct any visual-learner will pick up quickly, and help eliminate one tiny frustration from your day.

To find ear tips that work, just search for your headphone model plus “replacement ear tips” to find some in the right size, and in a color you like. If you use Airpods Pro, this option from Amazon is $8; comes in small, medium, and large varieties; a pink, blue or gray colorway; and has some solid reviews.

One customer said these were even better than what her headphones came with initially, writing, “I could never get the original silicone ear buds that came with the Pros to stay in my ear. Sometimes the original ones would fall out while I was sitting still, got to the point I almost returned them. These ones are great! Not sure if the sizing is slightly different or they use a different material during manufacturing but these fit and stay in my ears perfectly. They even have the same satisfying click when securing them. Highly recommend!” 

No matter what type of headphones you wear, this is a tip that could make your life easier. Plus, if you do find your current pair of headphones or headphone covers less than comfortable, it makes even more sense to purchase some alternate headphone cover options. Because who knows? You may even discover an entirely more comfortable way to wear your headphones (you just might need to buy two sets if you want to keep the color trick going).