Apple earbuds and static electricity

It's possible to receive a small and quick electrostatic shock from your earbuds when you listen to your iPod, iPhone, or Mac computer.

What's happening?

When you use earbuds in areas where the air is very dry, they can build up static electricity. Your ears might receive a small electrostatic discharge from the earbuds. If you receive a static shock from your earbuds, this doesn't mean that there's an issue with your device or the earbuds.

This condition is similar to dragging your feet across a carpet and receiving a static shock when you touch a doorknob. However, instead of the static charge building up on your body, the charge builds up on the device that the earbuds are connected to. Instead of the static buildup discharging through your finger when you touch a doorknob, it discharges through the earbuds.

This condition isn't limited to Apple hardware. Static can potentially build up on almost any hardware and could be discharged through any brand of earbuds.

Why does static build up on my device?

Certain environments and actions can encourage static electricity buildup on your electronic device.

  • Dry, low humidity environments
  • Very windy environments
  • Moving your device in and out of your pocket
  • Jogging or exercising with your device
  • Clothes made with synthetic fibers, like nylon

What can I do to reduce static buildup on my device?

There are several actions that you can take to control static electricity.


  • Increase the moisture level in the air. You can use a portable humidifier or adjust the humidity control on your air conditioner.
  • Spray an anti-static spray into the air.
  • Use anti-static lotion if you have dry skin.
  • Wear clothes that are made with natural fibers, like cotton. Synthetic fibers are more likely to hold a static charge.


  • Keep your device out of the wind by using a case or leaving it in your bag or pocket.
  • Don't frequently move your device in and out of your pockets. Rubbing the device on certain materials can cause a static buildup.
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