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Activate Bluetooth with Windows 10, 8, 7, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS

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Overview: This is how Bluetooth pairing works
How to activate Bluetooth on a Windows PC?
How do I turn on Bluetooth in macOS?
How to activate Bluetooth in Linux?
How to activate Bluetooth on Android?
How to activate Bluetooth on iOS?
Bluetooth not working: general troubleshooting
Enable Bluetooth in Windows 10
Bluetooth in Windows 8
How to enable Bluetooth in Windows 7
Troubleshooting in Windows
Troubleshooting macOS
Troubleshooting Linux
Android Troubleshooting
Troubleshooting on iOS


Activate Bluetooth with Windows 10, 8, 7, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS

What would the internet of things be without Bluetooth? Connect wireless speakers, headphones, mice and keyboards to your computer or laptop, listen to music from your smartphone through your car speakers, or pair your iPhone with your sports monitoring device? The radio frequency standard allows all these actions and many more to be carried out in a compact and energy efficient way . We explain how you can enjoy wireless data transmission with Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS..

  1. Overview: This is how Bluetooth pairing works
  2. How to activate Bluetooth on a Windows PC?
    1. Enable Bluetooth in Windows 10
    2. Bluetooth in Windows 8
    3. How to enable Bluetooth in Windows 7
    4. Troubleshooting in Windows
  3. How do I turn on Bluetooth in macOS?
    1. Troubleshooting macOS
  4. How to activate Bluetooth in Linux?
    1. Troubleshooting Linux
  5. How to activate Bluetooth on Android?
    1. Android Troubleshooting
  6. How to activate Bluetooth on iOS?
    1. Troubleshooting on iOS
  7. Bluetooth not working: general troubleshooting

Overview: This is how Bluetooth pairing works

The radio frequency technique created in 1999 has been conceived by its inventors, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), as an industry standard . That is why the procedure for connecting two Bluetooth-enabled devices, called? Pairing ?, is always the same :

  1. Check the Bluetooth function . First of all, you should check if the devices used have this function, that is, if they have a corresponding interface (and software). This is the case in the vast majority of today's computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. However, if you have questions about this, you can check the technical data of the device or the manufacturer's website. Computers and laptops without Bluetooth capability allow the use of an adapter that connects to the USB socket and whose price does not exceed 10 euros.
  2. Get within range of the connection . Bluetooth technology requires the devices to be connected to be in close proximity to each other. Depending on the classification (classes 1 to 3 are distinguished), the range radius can vary between 1 and 100 meters indoors and between 10 and 200 meters outdoors. However, as not all hardware has the ability to take full advantage of the range, we recommend that you do not separate your devices more than 10 meters.
  3. Activate Bluetooth . Make sure both devices are turned on and the feature is enabled. In the case of terminals such as laptops and smartphones, it is usually enough that you activate a verification field in the settings or configuration. In contrast, most peripherals, such as speakers and headphones, have a key (an On / Off button) on the outside of their housing. As a general rule, you must press the key for a few seconds. Then a flashing light indicates the synchronization capacity. If your device differs from this explanation, consult the instruction manual.
  4. Search the devices . As soon as Bluetooth is activated, it is normal for your devices to be recognized and appear in the device list of the other device. Click on the desired device to start a connection.
  5. Generate a security key . The first pairing between two devices usually requires the exchange of a security key (PIN). This key serves as protection against third parties that could spy or manipulate the connection. Often the manufacturer sets the PIN code to use (eg in the instruction manual), which is usually a simple number sequence such as? 0000? or? 1234 ?. Since these codes are very easy for hackers to guess, we recommend manually setting a PIN code of at least 8 digits. There are also devices that generate a random code automatically. For security reasons, you should always rule out the option of an automatic connection without a PIN code via Simple Secure Pairing.
  6. Authorize . Now, the? Teacher? (the device that initiates the Bluetooth connection) and the? slave? (the computer you want to connect to) must agree to the security key. In most cases, the PIN code is displayed on the screen of the master device and entered in a form on the slave. It is also possible that you only have to compare both keys indicated by the devices to verify that they match.
  7. Exchange data . If the pairing is successful, the devices are saved in the device list of the other device. Thus, when you pair them again, they will reconnect automatically and without having to enter the PIN code, as long as they are turned on and have the Bluetooth function activated.
  8. Turn off Bluetooth . To protect yourself against potential cybercriminals, you should always disable the Bluetooth function after completing the exchange. As a general rule, deactivation is done in a similar way to activation. If you want, you can also un-sync the devices and make a new pair later.

All you need to know about Bluetooth can be found in the IONOS Digital Guide.

How to activate Bluetooth on a Windows PC?

To find out if your computer has a built-in interface for Bluetooth, check the Device Manager . You can access it from the search function of the operating system. In the list of existing hardware components, the point? Bluetooth? should appear between the entries? Network adapters? and? Print queues ?. If it does not appear and you are sure that the device has this radio frequency technology, you may first have to download the corresponding driver from the manufacturer's website and install it..

As a general rule, in desktop computers the Bluetooth function of the hardware is usually already activated; In laptops , however, no. The reason: Longer battery life is sought. You can change this setting very quickly and the procedure only varies minimally between Windows 10, 8, and 7.

Enable Bluetooth in Windows 10

If you want to connect a device with your computer for the first time , you must access Windows Settings:

  1. Press the key combination [Windows] + [I] to access Settings .
  2. Select the menu option? Devices ?.
  3. Click? Bluetooth and other devices ?.
  4. Set the slider to? Activated ? to activate Bluetooth.
  5. Check the box? Allow Bluetooth devices to find this computer ? so that your computer is visible on the network.
  6. Also check the box? Show the Bluetooth icon in the notification area ?. This way, you can later connect and disconnect the radio frequency technology as you wish.
  7. Confirm the changes with? Accept ?
  8. Now, click the button? Add Bluetooth or other device ?. A new window opens.
  9. Click? Bluetooth ? Windows automatically starts searching for available devices (they must be turned on, have a sufficient battery charge level, and have Bluetooth enabled).
  10. Mark the desired device and click? Connect ?
  11. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen, p. For example, for authorization by security code (PIN), to establish a Bluetooth activation.
By clicking on the speech bubble on the right in the toolbar, you can display the Windows 10 notification area, from which you can access the Bluetooth function and settings.
In Windows Settings, navigate to the menu item? Devices ?.
In? Bluetooth and other devices? You can check the connected devices and connect or disconnect the Bluetooth function via the controller.
If you click the "Add Bluetooth or other device" button, Windows automatically searches for available devices.

You can disable the Bluetooth function in the same way. Even easier it works in the Windows Notification Area, which you can display by clicking the speech bubble symbol on the toolbar. Here, click on the famous Bluetooth logo to connect and disconnect the function as you need. To permanently disconnect a device from your computer, you must select it in? Settings? >? Bluetooth and other devices? and click? Remove device ?..


Many Windows laptops allow you to more conveniently turn the Bluetooth function on and off with a combination of keys, e.g. eg, [Fn] + [F8]. Some models even feature a special key with the unmistakable Bluetooth runic symbol.

Bluetooth in Windows 8

If you want to activate or deactivate the Bluetooth function in Windows 8, use the so-called Charm Bar :

  1. You can open this bar by moving the mouse cursor (in case of a touch screen, with your finger) to the upper or lower right corner of the screen.
  2. Click on the cogwheel symbol to display the? Configuration ?. Then select? Change PC settings ? In the pop-up window you can use the? Bluetooth? Connect and disconnect button. in the menu? Manage Bluetooth Devices ?.
  3. Once you have activated the button, Windows will automatically search for available devices. To make connections and disconnections, follow the same procedure as for Windows 10 (see above).

How to enable Bluetooth in Windows 7

If your Bluetooth-enabled computer or Bluetooth USB adapter still works with Windows 7, proceed as follows:

  1. In the Windows search option, enter? Device manager ? and open it once it appears.
  2. Find the Bluetooth interface in the list of hardware components. It may appear, for example, with the name? Bluetooth Radio? or? Bluetooth Adapter ?.
  3. Click with the right mouse button to open the context menu. Then click? Activate ? Now, the Bluetooth symbol is displayed on your toolbar.
  4. From now on you will be able to connect devices with your computer if you access the? Home ? >? Devices and printers ? >? Add device ? and follow the instructions on the screen.
  5. To disconnect a device, right-click on the desired device and select the option? Remove device ?.

Troubleshooting in Windows

If you are having trouble activating Bluetooth in Windows 10, 8 or 7, there may be different causes (see below):

The most common is that a Bluetooth driver for Windows 10, 8, or 7 is missing or out of date . In Windows 10 you can easily load it by going to? Start? >? Configuration? >? Update and security? >? Troubleshoot ? Here you can select the option? Bluetooth? in the section? Find and fix other problems? and click? Run the troubleshooter ?. Windows will then walk you through a process to check your hardware drivers and update them if necessary.

Alternatively, you can search for the drivers directly on the website of your computer or laptop manufacturer . In this case, remember to download updated drivers for both the Bluetooth function and the WLAN function, since both functions are located in the same hardware module.

It may also be that the Bluetooth service was not started correctly when the computer started. In this case, the command line terminal can help you: enter cmd in Windows search and press the [Enter] key. In the next window, enter the command net start "bthserv" and confirm again with the [Enter] key.

How do I turn on Bluetooth in macOS?

On most Mac computers the Bluetooth function is built in by default. To check if this is the case for your model, go to the Apple menu (via the Apple logo in the upper left) and click? About this Mac ?. In the next window you can check the Bluetooth settings on your PC through? More information? >? Hardware ?.

Activation and deactivation is similar to Windows :

  1. In the Apple menu, click? System preferences? ? A new window opens.
  2. Click on the big Bluetooth symbol to access the? Bluetooth settings ?.
  3. Activate the function using the corresponding button.
  4. Connect with the desired device.
  5. If you also check the box? Show Bluetooth in the menu bar ?, you can use the radio frequency standard directly from the home page.
If the Bluetooth symbol is displayed in the menu bar, you just have to click on it and on the point? System Preferences? >? Bluetooth ?, select? Open ??.
In the Bluetooth settings you can connect and disconnect the function using the button, check the Bluetooth name of the Mac computer and display Bluetooth in the menu bar.
Bluetooth pairing is practically identical on macOS and Windows.

Troubleshooting macOS

If your Mac operating system refuses to establish a Bluetooth connection even after trying several times, you should try removing the com.apple.Bluetooth.plist file from the / Library / Preferences folder and restarting your computer.

Another option is to reset the Bluetooth module to factory settings using debugging mode (then a restart of the computer is required). You can access the corresponding option by holding down the [Shift] and [Option] keys and clicking on the Bluetooth symbol in the menu bar. Caution: in this case all Bluetooth connections are deleted and you must reconfigure them.

How to activate Bluetooth in Linux?

Bluetooth is compatible with all common Linux distributions (eg Mint, Debian). In Ubuntu , for example, the function is activated as follows:

  1. Click on the cogwheel symbol in the menu bar to open Settings.
  2. Select the option? Bluetooth ? and set the slider to? On ?.
  3. The devices available for a connection are now displayed and you can connect them.

Troubleshooting Linux

On the other hand, if you use a custom Linux operating system on a computer assembled by yourself, it is likely that you will first have to equip the radio frequency technology through an interface or a corresponding adapter (you can check if the hardware is Bluetooth capable using the Isusb command | grep Bluetooth ). Next, you need to configure the Bluetooth function in the software by installing the necessary packages using the command window . To do this, enter the command sudo apt-get install bluez-utils libopemnobex1 . In case of problems, you should check the functionality of these software packages.

How to activate Bluetooth on Android?

The Bluetooth function has long been standard equipment for Android smartphones and tablets. You can easily access the function through the symbol bar, which you can access by moving your fingers from the top of the screen down. As a general rule, the Bluetooth symbol already appears here, although it may also be that you have to charge it using the? Edit ?. Then proceed as follows to perform a Bluetooth pairing:

  1. Press the symbol to activate the Bluetooth function and make your device ready for connection.
  2. If you keep the symbol pressed for one second, the Bluetooth menu opens (alternatively, you can access the menu via? Settings?>? Network settings?>? Bluetooth?).
  3. Here you can check all the available devices and request pairing by tapping your finger.
  4. Through the gear symbol that appears next to the devices that are already paired, you can disconnect the connection at any time.
Thanks to the practical Android symbol bar you can quickly access all Bluetooth functions.

Android Troubleshooting

The most common reason that your Android smartphone or tablet is not visible to other devices despite having the Bluetooth function activated is the so- called invisibility mode . This mode hides the name of your device to protect you from potential cybercriminals. However, this mode prevents the use of radio frequency wireless technology. You can check if your device is visible to other connecting devices in the Bluetooth Settings . If you click on the name of your device you can set an activation time , that is, a period of time during which your device is visible after activating the Bluetooth function. This feature can be disabled completely, allowing continuous visibility (although not recommended).


Remember that as a general rule, the Bluetooth function is disabled in airplane mode.

Another effective solution is to restart the system application that deals with radio frequency technology on the Android device. To do this, in? Setting? Accede to ? Applications ? and? All applications ?. Press? Bluetooth activation ? and empty memory cache in the next window. Then restart your device.

How to activate Bluetooth on iOS?

IPhones and iPads also feature Bluetooth technology as standard . The function is activated as follows:

  1. Open the application? Settings ?
  2. Click on the option? Bluetooth ?
  3. As with Android devices, the On / Off switch, the device list, your visibility status, and your device name appear here. You can make any connection simply by tapping your finger.
  4. If you click on the information symbol that appears next to any paired device, you can disconnect that device temporarily or long-term using the option "Skip device".
On both the iPhone and iPad, the Bluetooth functions also appear in the Settings.

Troubleshooting on iOS

If the Bluetooth function starts to fail in iOS, it is usually enough to reconnect the devices. For hands-free device pairing, it may also be helpful to disconnect the iCloud connection and restart the process.

Another quite effective solution is to reset the network settings : In? Settings? >? General? >? Reset? tap? Network Settings? and confirm the reset by entering your personal password. Remember that you will then have to reconfigure all Bluetooth and WLAN connections.

Bluetooth not working: general troubleshooting

Bluetooth technology is generally regarded as a very reliable form of wireless data transmission. However, it is possible that in the different operating systems some error is generated, usually easy to solve.

Regardless of the device used, there are also other factors that can cause the Bluetooth function to malfunction or cause a connection to drop unexpectedly. In these cases you can try the following measures:

  • Often times, the simplest solution is also the most effective: disconnect and reconnect affected devices and the Bluetooth function.
  • If it doesn't work, disconnect the devices from each other and reconnect .
  • Check the compatibility of your equipment . As a general rule, Bluetooth features from version 3.0 + HS onwards are backward compatible. However, there are some small devices, such as training monitoring devices and smartwatches, that use the Low-Energy profile of version 4.0 LE (also called Bluetooth SMART) and cannot communicate with older Bluetooth variants.
  • Make sure your devices have a sufficient battery charge to make the connection.
  • Bring your devices closer. Despite the technical capabilities of Bluetooth technology, many devices (especially low-energy ones) do not exceed a range of 10 meters or less.
  • Remove possible sources of interference that may exist between devices. These can be cordless phones, satellite dishes, or different appliances that share the frequency range with Bluetooth technology. Microwaves, poorly insulated cables, or other Bluetooth devices or wireless devices can also cause interference.
  • As much as possible, use your devices in the same space and at the same height. Any barrier, such as a metal desk or a concrete wall, has a very negative impact on the radio frequency connection. Materials like bricks or marble can also be harmful.
  • Older smartphones and tablets are especially troublesome when there are too many Bluetooth-connected devices. In this case, first remove some entries from the device list before doing another pairing.
  • Make sure you always have updated drivers on your devices.
  • The updates of the operating system can also troubleshoot connection.
  • Many computers work on the basis of Bluetooth technology, but require a special application to use, eg. Eg the Apple Watch. There are also cases where you have to make the first connection via WLAN in order to use the Bluetooth function.

If none of the solutions in this article work for you, your hardware is probably damaged . Try Bluetooth pairing with other devices, and if it still doesn't work, contact a technical support service .