iPhone Headphone Mic/Button Not Working?

I started experiencing a very strange problem the other day – my iPhone’s stock headphones could no longer be used to play/pause the music or answer calls with the button on the cord, nor could anyone hear me talking when I had the headphones on.

When I first got my iPhone, I could either use the stock headphones’ mic or plug in third-party headphones and talk over the iPhone’s internal mic, but since last week or so, neither worked.

I then found these articles, which didn’t really seem to help:

At this point, I decided to take it in to the Apple store, thinking that they might not help me because of my phone’s special configuration, and of course, they told me to restore the phone to the stock firmware, back it up, and take it in for repair once that had been done.

On a whim, though, the girl who was helping me at the Apple store decided to take a look at the headphone jack itself and found it to be full of pocket lint. After digging it out with a small screwdriver, the headset (and my third-party headphones) worked fine again.

…Yep, pocket lint.

So, if you’re having the same problem (which, as I was told, is more common for guys since we tend to carry the phones in jeans pockets that pick up a lot of lint), try cleaning out the jack with a small pick or screwdriver. Canned air alone didn’t seem to do the trick, but if it works for you, awesome. =)

And, if cleaning out the headphone jack still doesn’t help, or there wasn’t any gunk in there in the first place, this post might help you out instead:

(Why I couldn’t find that site when I first looked I still don’t quite understand…)

74 thoughts on “iPhone Headphone Mic/Button Not Working?

  1. Thank god that girl at apple figured that out. There was enough pocket lint in my to start a small house fire.

  2. Thank you! I thought it had something to do with the jail break or anything. And then I was able to peel out quite some lint. Used a very small screedriver and held the phone upside down, so that the dirt I loosened could fall out.

    Works perfect now! Thank you for posting this tip!

  3. Actually, I was just writing up a headset earbud replacement article on my own site and I had to figure out how each of the conductors in the headset works. I’m 99% sure that the button in the headset works by shorting the mic return line to ground, changing the apparent resistance of the mic circuit. What probably happened to you is this: The headset was plugged in, and the phone detected that just fine. Therefore, the internal mic was disabled. The mic return line contact on the jack, however, was covered in lint, causing both the button and the mic to fail. That accounts for the button not working as well as the lack of sound pickup. That mostly confirms my theory about how the button works, but I suppose I’ll actually investigate myself at some point.

  4. same problem and total life saver (even though i thought it was the headphones and got a new pair from apple for free out of the deal! XD)

  5. OH MY GOD!! I thought I was going to take the headphones back until I read what you went through and what you did to solve it! The mic is working perfectly! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

  6. Thank you Thank you Thank you. Such an easy fix… took a piece of small copper wire, cleaned out the pocket lint, lots of it and now works great…. Amazing.


    Great post, and great explanation.
    Worked like a charm, and was difficult to find a solution for this problem for some reason… this answer should be indexed n`1 in google results!
    THANKS again from Buenos Aires, Argentina!

  8. Thank you so much for posting this. I was just about to take the button section apart when I decided to google if it was a common problem. I pulled out a big ball of lint from the bottom of the connector, now Im back in business! Thanks again.

  9. Worked great for me! I just dug around in the headphone jack with a pin for a while until a huge chunk of lint came out.

    I noticed that there is a really easy way to tell if there is something in the jack or not: plug the headphones in, if the white part of the headphones aren’t completely flush with the phone itself (part of the headphone jack is sticking out) then there is something in the phone jack blocking the headphones from getting all the way in there.

  10. I used a paperclip and twirled it around a bit and removed a lump of dark lint as large as a pea. The mic works fine. thanks a bunch.

  11. Hah. I had no idea how much lint that little headphone jack hole could collect. I had about a pea’s worth of lint in there. I cleared it out with a paper clip and now the buttons on the headset are working fine.

    The lint must collect and get packed down over time, eventually not allowing the plug to set into the jack all the way, causing it to miss the contact that sends the signal for the headset buttons. Funny stuff.

    I bet Apple will eventually sell an attractive looking lint cleaner just for this purposes for $19.95.

  12. thanks was just about to go to the mac store tomoro because i had broken my screen on my touch and firgured they messed something up thanks works great now

  13. this just saved me too… did an upgrade and thought I borked the phone… just turn it off and dig out the lint!!!!

  14. Nice post. My mic has never worked, but I didn’t notice until I was out of warranty and I figured I had bad headphones. Then I bought new (cheap) ones and those didn’t work either. I either had two bad mics, or a bad phone. But turns out I had a forest of lint living in my phone!

  15. A M A Z I N G ! ! ! !

    I seemed to be so desperate that anything would work fine for me! I called Apple but nothing.. i tried too reset and restore and nothing again!! That really helped sooo much guys! Thanks once more!

    1. Thank you for this. I thought my headphone jack was busted and needed a new phone. One shot of compressed air and I was suprised to see how much lint popped out. I’m so happy now that I don’t have to unplug my headphones to answer my phone anymore. Thank you.

  16. First i thought “a screwdriver?” lol but…THANKS MAN..!! I thought that it was from jailbreak and stuff like that! That girl from Apple is a goddess!!haha.
    thanks again, extremely helpfull.

  17. thank you so much. i have been having hassles for ages now and i have just dug out so much fluff with a cocktail stick and everything is good again.

  18. Wow, this worked great. I was all distressed about my headphone jack and then I came across this article and it worked like a charm. Thank you!

  19. YOU ROCK man……

    I got that problem and It is amazing what a simple screw driver can do.
    Somebody need to tell this trick to MAC…. 🙂

    Thank you so much.

  20. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important. Have you tried the ipad? you can get one free at FreshGiftCard.com

  21. Hi Man, I have to join the choir. I have been fighting with this problem way to long. 2 minutes exercise and now it is fixed 🙂

    Thanks a ot.

  22. One more thankful reader, who nearly had to eat the cost of returning a “defective” pair of Phonak Audeo earphones because they had a non-functioning mic and button…until I checked with an old pair and _they_ didn’t work.

    Googled, found your blog, and Bob’s your uncle. Many thanks! I’m gonna pack a small safety pin in my earphone case from now on…just remember to turn off the iPhone first!

  23. Thank you so much for this article!

    I was already considering my 3rd pair of plugs when I read this! Thankfully I only wasted money on an extra pair, which is good to have anyway.

  24. Thanks so much for this tip – about 5 minutes of digging around with a safety pin and the headphones now work. Excellent.

    Greetings from London.

  25. It worked ! 5 minutes ago i was browsing the headphones in the Apple Store and now it worked. Thanks a lot for sharing this useful tip (sadly the Apple KBs don´t mention any of this)

  26. thats nice work…thanks man….now my headset mic and remote button working……um very very thankfull to u…..there was lot of lint in jack….lolz

  27. Thanks alot. I was a bit annoyed when my mic n control didnt work. But this helped greatly

  28. Just saying thankyou! Had the same problem with some expensive UE headphones and was about to send them back thinking they were faulty. Turns out it was just lint. Curse you lint!

  29. Just found this post, I rarely comment. All my problems have been solved. Get a tiny flat head from CVS/Rite Aid/wherever and pull that lint out! Solves problems much faster than an overnight delivery.

  30. I’ve been calling service centers and apple shops for possible cure for the problem. Thank you for this very helpful post.

  31. Freakin Sweet! I went and bought a new headset cuz I thought mine was jacked up. Then the new headset had the same problem…….. So I prayed to the Google Gods to help me and I found your article. One bent paperclip later everything works great. Thanks for Posting!

  32. Thanks, I am yet another person rescued because of this blog post! YAY. Used a torch to shine in to see all the lint at the bottom and a toothpick to get it all out.

    Headphone controls work again now!

  33. I dropped my phone last day and since that happened I can’t hear someone calling on my phone anymore. This is a perfect timing that you got to post this article in which I had an idea to try to visit the links that you recommended.
    Thank you for sharing your personal experienced to help others. I’ll get back to you as soon as I have a good outcome though. iphone repair orlando

  34. This helped, thanks! I just blew in my head phone jack and twited ot around a bit. It worked like a charm!

  35. YOU sir are GREAT!

    Pocketlint, indeed!
    Enough to make navel lint sick with envy.
    Are didn’t do it, had to use a small screw driver.


  36. Sadly I didn’t search for an answer before ordering a new headset, the mic of which didn’t work either. But with a paperclip and some digging came a ball of lint. I am back in business and now I have two headsets….it’s a good thing.

    Thanks dude!

  37. Awesome tip.. I had the same problem n thought it was something to do with firmware. As mine is jail broken I was a bit concerned to play with firmware.. But I just cleaned the jack inside with a toothpic which resolved this issue. Thnx again fr posting such a useful n simple tip..

  38. I just restored the switch on my headset to functionality thanks to your lint hint. Thank you very much for taking the trouble to write it up. This was driving me crazy, and I was tired of buying new headsets. I had pretty much given up hope and figured I’d just have to do without that feature until I can get an iPhone 5.

  39. Thanks for posting this. I can’t believe how much lent there was. One more reason to keep a paperclip handy.

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