Bluetooth is a fast and convenient way to transfer files between your Mac and other Bluetooth enabled devices. This is why it can be frustrating when Bluetooth is not working on your machine. This tutorial reviews all the fixes to try to fix Bluetooth connection issues in macOS.
1. Is Bluetooth enabled on both devices?
You may have accidentally disabled Bluetooth on your Mac or target device (s). It may sound obvious, but it’s still worth checking that Bluetooth is really turned on!
If you’ve added the Bluetooth icon to your Mac’s menu bar, a quick glance will tell you if it’s turned on.
If the Bluetooth icon is grayed out, then Bluetooth is not activated, which explains why it did not work! To activate Bluetooth on your Mac, click on the gray icon and select “Activate Bluetooth”.
If the Bluetooth icon is not displayed in the menu bar of your Mac, then:
- Click the Apple logo in the upper left corner of the screen.
- Go to “System Preferences … -> Bluetooth”.
- If you see a “Bluetooth: disabled” message, it means that Bluetooth is currently disabled. To activate Bluetooth, click on the “Activate Bluetooth” button.
While you are in the “System Preferences … -> Bluetooth” menu, you can add the Bluetooth icon to the menu bar of your Mac by selecting “Show Bluetooth in the menu bar”.
On the target device
If the target device is a device such as a mouse or keyboard, try flipping it over and looking for a switch or button that turns on Bluetooth. If the device is a smartphone or computer, you need to check the device settings to make sure that Bluetooth is turned on.
2. Is your device powered on?
For peripherals such as computer mice and keyboards, this is not always as obvious when it is out of power. Your Mac can’t connect to a turned off device, so make sure the device is powered!
Many devices have LEDs that indicate when the device is on. If these lights are not on as expected, this may indicate that the device is not on, so try to toggle its switch “on / off”. If the device is powered by battery, check that the batteries have not come loose or try to insert a new set of batteries.
Some devices can also go into power saving mode when they have been idle for a long time. If you think your device is asleep, try interacting with it. For example, press a few keys on your Bluetooth-enabled keyboard. Once the device wakes up, it should be ready to connect to your Mac via Bluetooth.
Does your device have enough power?
Just because a device is powered by a battery doesn’t mean it has enough power to maintain a Bluetooth connection. Some devices automatically turn off Bluetooth when their battery drops below a certain level.
If you think your device may be running low on battery, try plugging it into an electrical outlet, inserting new batteries, or recharging its batteries.
3. Is there an exceptional configuration?
If you are trying to connect a device for the very first time, you should still perform a pairing process:
1. Select the Apple logo from the menu bar on your Mac.
2. Select “System Preferences”.
3. Choose the preferences pane that corresponds to the device with which you are having problems, such as the keyboard or the mouse. This pane should contain certain settings that you can use to connect the device to your Mac, such as “Configure the Bluetooth keyboard …”
Even if you’ve previously connected this device to your Mac, you may need to repeat the setup process if you’ve recently updated macOS or performed some type of factory reset.
4. Is your Bluetooth preference list corrupt?
If you’ve tried all of the above fixes and macOS still refuses to connect via Bluetooth, your Bluetooth preference list may be to blame. The Bluetooth.plist file can get corrupted over time, so deleting Bluetooth.plist and letting macOS regenerate this file can solve a multitude of Bluetooth-related issues.
To delete your Bluetooth preference list:
1. Go to “Applications -> Utilities” and launch the Terminal application.
2. Copy / paste the following command in the Terminal window:
3. When prompted, enter your password.
4. Restart your Mac.
Your Mac will now automatically recreate the Bluetooth preferences list.
5. Resetting NVRAM
Non-volatile random access memory (NVRAM) is a small amount of memory where macOS stores the settings it needs to access quickly, including certain Bluetooth-related settings. If these settings are corrupted, this can cause a series of technical issues, so resetting your NVRAM can resolve your Bluetooth connection issues.
Before you begin, be aware that resetting NVRAM will also reset your system settings and preferences, so you may need to spend some time reapplying these settings after resetting NVRAM.
To reset NVRAM:
1. Shut down your Mac as usual.
2. Turn on your Mac and immediately press Option + Order P + R. Keep holding these keys until your Mac restarts.
3. Release the keys.
You have now successfully reset NVRAM on your Mac.
6. Reset the Bluetooth module
1. On your desktop, press and hold Offset + Option keys.
2. Click the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar of your Mac.
3. Select Debug.
You will now have access to two debug settings to reset your Mac’s Bluetooth settings:
- Reset the Bluetooth module: This will erase all the parameters of the Bluetooth hardware module. Resetting the module will disconnect all devices and peripherals currently connected to your Mac via Bluetooth, so you will temporarily lose the connection and may need to manually reconnect some or all of your devices after resetting the module.
- Factory reset of all connected Apple devices: This will restore the factory settings for all Apple brand devices currently connected to your Mac.
I hope that one of the above solutions helped you to solve the Bluetooth connection problems in macOS. If you use many Bluetooth devices, make sure you understand Bluetooth security issues and how to protect yourself.
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