Fixing Bluetooth Issues on Mac

Fixing Bluetooth Issues on Mac

This article is a guide on using Bluetooth devices with a Mac as well as an instruction on how to fix any issues with this type of connection. Your Mac may say that pairing fails, Bluetooth isn’t working or it is unavailable.
So, let’s learn how to pair a device with your Mac using the Bluetooth connection and how to fix all the possible issues. We will begin with the basics (like turning Bluetooth on and off on Mac) and proceed to the details.

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How to Turn Bluetooth On

If you can’t get where it can be turned on, don’t worry, you’re not the first and the only one who can’t. Go to System Preferences and make it visible at the screen top, if you want to have the quick access to this feature.
All Macs from 2002 have built-in Bluetooth adapters. If you are not sure whether you have one, click on the Apple logo, select ‘About this Mac’, go to ‘System report’ and find the ‘Bluetooth’ line. If you don’t see it, then it is likely that you don’t have a Bluetooth adapter.

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These are the steps for turning it on:

  1. Visit ‘System Preferences’ and select ‘Bluetooth’.
  2. Click on the ‘Turn Bluetooth On’ button or make sure that it is already on.
  3. Find the list of available devices for connection (their Bluetooth adapters should be turned on as well).
  4. Select ‘Connect’.

If you can’t find the necessary device, don’t worry, I will tell you how to fix that a bit later in this article.


How to Add Bluetooth to Mac’s Menu

As I said earlier, you can add a shortcut to the menu bar. This icon indicates whether it is on or off and allows to switch your Bluetooth adapter to another state whenever you need.

  1. Visit ‘System Preferences’ and select ‘Bluetooth’.
  2. Mark the box ‘Show Bluetooth in the menu bar’.

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Connecting a Device to Your Mac Using Bluetooth

This step is easy and works will all devices that have Bluetooth. If they are already paired with your Mac, just switch them on. On new Apple devices, there will be a slider which green color shows that the Bluetooth adapter is on.
Those who have purchased Apple Bluetooth separately should find a Lightning cable (it is usually packed in the box) and connect the device to a Mac. Here is how to pair it with a Mac:

  1. Connect it to your Mac with a cable from the box.
  2. Turn this device on.
  3. Visit ‘System Preferences’ and select ‘Bluetooth’.
  4. Find it in the device list.


Possible Problems with the Bluetooth Connection

Here are the steps of getting rid of problems if your Mac says that Bluetooth can’t find the device to connect to it.

The most common problems are covered below:

Bluetooth Device’s Battery is Low

A device may not connect to your Mac due to the low battery. Some devices may automatically disconnect when their batteries become low. If it is really so, the icon of Bluetooth will show the symbol of a battery.
You can also check the charge level of your devices by visiting the ‘Bluetooth’ section in System Preferences.

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Other Bluetooth Devices Connect to Your Mac

Sometimes it may happen so that someone’s Bluetooth device is trying to connect to your Mac. This is a common situation for busy offices where everyone uses Apple machines.
To check whether someone has connected their device to your Mac, look at the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar, all the connected devices have 3 dots through their names.
Optionally, you can do this in the ‘Bluetooth’ section in System Preferences.

Mac Doesn’t Play Music via Bluetooth speaker/headphones

You may have speakers or headphones connected with Bluetooth, but they don’t play any sounds. Here is a way of fixing that:

  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. Select ‘Sound’.
  3. Visit ‘Output’ settings.
  4. Select your device from the list.

Mouse or Keyboard don’t work via Bluetooth

Here is what to do:

  1. Check whether all the Bluetooth devices are “on”.
  2. Try to turn it off and once again.
  3. Click a button on the keyboard or hover the mouse to see if they have woken up.
  4. After the device of your choice is on, it should be visible in the ‘Bluetooth’ section in System Preferences. If it is not, check the devices’ batteries.
  5. If that didn’t work, see whether your Mac’s Bluetooth is turned on.
  6. Plug in your Bluetooth device once more.
  7. Go to ‘Mouse/Keyboard/Trackpad’ in System Preferences.
  8. Click on the ‘Set Up’ button in the ‘Mouse/Keyboard/Trackpad’ section.
  9. Your Mac will find the device.


What to Do in Case of Connection Problems

Here are general pieces of advice of troubleshooting any connection issues.

1. Turning Your Bluetooth On and Off

Sometimes, this simple steps help people fix the problem. Click on its icon in the menu bar and select ‘Turn Bluetooth off’, then turn it on again.
If you don’t have this icon in the menu, go to the ‘Bluetooth’ section in System Preferences and choose to turn it off and on in that window.
If nothing works, try restarting your Mac.

2. Remove All Bluetooth Devices

If the previous steps haven’t helped, try to restart all the Bluetooth devices connected to your Mac. Maybe too many connected devices cause issues. We are used to the idea that Macs can work with 7 devices via Bluetooth, however, some of them can consume more data reducing this number to 4 or even 3.

  • Go to the ‘Bluetooth’ section in System Preferences.
  • Click on the icon with the X on it next to the device you want to disconnect.
  • Restart your Mac.
  • Wait for a couple of minutes.
  • Reconnect the device.

3. Check the Bluetooth Interface

Your household devices can work on the same 2.4GHz band and they may interfere with the connection. Metal objects between 2 devices can cause problems too. Make sure you haven’t such objects in your room and between the devices you want to connect to your Mac.

4. Delete and generate the Bluetooth.plist file again

There are two ways of doing that. First--is using Terminal

  • Launch Terminal.
  • Copy and paste: sudo rm -R /Library/Preferences/ and press ‘Enter’.
  • Type your password and Press ‘Enter’.
  • Restart the Mac.
  • Go to the ‘Bluetooth’ section in System Preferences.
  • Turn it on.
  • Try pairing your devices again.

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Another option is doing the same via Finder:

  1. Launch Finder.
  2. Select ‘Go’ > ‘Go to Folder’.
  3. Type the following: /Library/Preferences, then click ‘Go’.
  4. Find the file named ‘’ and delete it.
  5. Select ‘Go’ > ‘Go to Folder’.
  6. Type the following: /Library/Preferences/ByHost, then click ‘Go’.
  7. Find the file named ‘ file’ and delete it.
  8. Restart your Mac -- this will automatically generate new files, so you can turn Bluetooth on and try to connect again.

5. Reset the configuration

Resetting all the Bluetooth devices from the menu is the last resort.

  1. Press ‘Shift+Alt/Option’ while clicking the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar.
  2. Select ‘Debug’ and ‘Remove all devices’.
  3. Open this menu once again and click on ‘Reset the Bluetooth module’ in ‘Debug’.
  4. Try to pair the Bluetooth devices once more.