Bluetooth is quickly becoming one of those veteran technologies that may fall away in some areas (such as file transfers) but thrive more and more in others (wireless controllers, headphones and other devices). If you’re trying to figure out how to manage Bluetooth devices, Windows has made it so much easier.
The latest Bluetooth 5.3 version is available now. At the moment, there are many more devices than ever attached to your Windows PC simultaneously. We’re here to help you cope with the increasing wireless traffic by showing you how to manage your Bluetooth device collection.
The Uses of Bluetooth in Windows
You can do a lot of things with Bluetooth in Windows. It helps you connect with Bluetooth-compatible peripherals such as mice, keyboards, headsets, and Xbox accessories. It has many more advanced applications. For example, you can use Bluetooth in Windows to connect a laptop screen as an external monitor. You can also use the Nearby Sharing option in Windows if you have Bluetooth drivers enabled for the task.
How to Enable Bluetooth in Windows
Setting up Bluetooth in Windows 10 /11 should be a cinch. The following methods will help you enable Bluetooth on your Windows laptop or PC.
- If you have Bluetooth built into your PC already, then it’s just a case of going to “Settings -> Bluetooth & devices.”
- Alternatively, you may already have a little “Bluetooth Devices” icon in your notification area in the bottom-right corner of your desktop. Likewise, if you have a USB Bluetooth dongle, it should be detected by Windows and installed automatically.
- For those using a Microsoft Surface, Surface Pro X or similar device, you will find a Bluetooth button on the keyboard itself.
- Another way to access Bluetooth Settings on your device is to open the Windows Action Center by pressing Win + Aand clicking the Bluetooth icon. If it shows “Not connected,” clicking it once will establish a successful pairing with any other Bluetooth device.
- You can always search for “Bluetooth and other device settings” from the Windows Search bar. It is very helpful if you are facing unexpected issues with the Bluetooth icon in the Action Center or on your keyboard.
- Once on the “Bluetooth & other devices settings” screen, just click the Bluetooth slider to turn it “On”.
How Bluetooth Works on Windows
To understand how Bluetooth works on Windows, we will discuss a few components of Bluetooth technology that are custom made for Windows.
Bluetooth comes with a few built-in drivers on a Windows device. The Device Manager controls them.
- If you can’t activate Bluetooth for whatever reason, go to Device Manager using any of the available methods.
- Then click the Bluetooth dropdown in the list and look for any exclamation marks by your Bluetooth drivers.
- If there is one, right-click it and then try “Update Driver,” or disable then re-enable the problematic driver.
- You can also check all connected Bluetooth devices from “Bluetooth & devices -> More Bluetooth Settings -> Hardware.” This gives a list of all Bluetooth drivers on your current PC configuration.
- Click on the “Properties” button for a selected Bluetooth driver. It will lead to a new pop-up menu below. Here, under the “Driver” tab, you get the option to update, roll back, disable, or uninstall the Bluetooth driver. You can do all these things from the Device Manager as well.
As an overview, here are the main Bluetooth device drivers that you should have listed in Device Manager. The default Bluetooth drivers in a Windows laptop include a compatible driver with Qualcomm or other chipsets.
Note: The list doesn’t include any Bluetooth devices installed on your PC; these vary from PC to PC.
1. Bluetooth Radio/Wireless Bluetooth/Similar
This is the actual Bluetooth receiver/radio that you have in your PC – whether attached to the motherboard or via a USB dongle. If your Bluetooth radio is off, then it’s quite possible that the only thing you’ll see under the Bluetooth dropdown is this, and it needs to be enabled for Bluetooth to even appear in your Settings window and for the below Bluetooth device drivers to become visible.
In latest laptops, the Bluetooth Radio text is replaced by RFCOMM which is a kernel-device driver shown on the above screen.
2. Device Identification Service
This always runs in the background so long as you have a Bluetooth radio switched on and is responsible for identifying each of your Bluetooth devices, making sure they work as they should and don’t conflict with each other.
3. Microsoft Bluetooth Enumerator
This service kicks in when you’re installing a Bluetooth radio without a driver (a generic USB one, for example), and Microsoft effectively “takes control” of that driver. The Bluetooth and Bluetooth LE Enumerator are shown on the above screen.
4. Service Discovery Service
This looks for different services related to your Bluetooth devices and helps them essentially coordinate with your Bluetooth devices. A bit like the identification service, this is essential for your Bluetooth devices to run.
How to Pair Windows With Another Bluetooth Device
Once your actual Bluetooth radio and its associated services are in order, it’s time to manage your Bluetooth devices: all the fancy peripherals that you want to wirelessly connect to your PC.
There are three different ways to pair your Windows machine with an external Bluetooth device such as a smartphone (shown in the example below), a headset, a wireless display, mice, or other peripherals.
1. Using “Bluetooth & Devices” Menu
To add a Bluetooth device, you’ll need to switch on its scanning/pairing mode. The procedure to do this varies between devices, but generally, it involves holding down a button on the device for several seconds before its lights start flashing or it tells you it’s “pairing.”
- Once your device is in pairing mode, in Windows go to the Bluetooth settings again, then click “Add device.”
- You can also add a Bluetooth device directly by right-clicking the Bluetooth icon near the System tray and selecting “Add a Bluetooth Device.”
- In the pop-up screen that follows, you should see three types of devices that can be added.
- The Bluetooth category includes mice, keyboards, pens, audio devices, controllers, and more. This is the option you should always select for such device types. If you are using a wireless Bluetooth TV display or monitor, go for the second option. Xbox Controllers, DLNA, and Xbox wireless adapters are the third category.
- The device you want to pair should appear in the list. Click on it.
- Windows may then ask you for the device’s PIN code. You need to first click “Yes” on the peripheral Bluetooth device that you want to pair. After that, click “Yes” on your Windows device.
- If the Bluetooth pairing is successful, you will see a “Connection succeeded” status on your Windows device, as well as on the other device that you are trying to connect.
- You will be able to see all your recently paired Bluetooth devices on the “Bluetooth & devices” screen. If they have been disconnected due to inactivity, click on the “Connect” button to reestablish the connection.
2. Using the Bluetooth Device Wizard
Windows offers a Run command called “devicepairingwizard” to enable pairing with other Bluetooth devices.
- Access devicepairingwizard from the search box. Always run it in administrator mode.
- Wait a few moments for the “Device Pairing Wizard” to search for other compatible devices in your network.
- If a device compatible to your PC is found, you should be able to add it to your network. If not, you will see a “No devices found” status. In that case, go back to the earlier method, which is less likely to fail the pairing.
3. Using Swift Pair
You might own a Bluetooth device that is extremely compatible with your Windows laptop or PC due to identical drivers. In such cases, you don’t need a PIN to establish Bluetooth pairing. Instead, the pairing can be directly achieved by enabling an option called “Show notifications to connect using Swift Pair” from the “Bluetooth & devices” menu.
In the following example, my 2.4G wireless mouse connected seamlessly with my Windows 11 laptop using Swift Pair (no PIN involved).
How to Remove Bluetooth Device From Windows
Sometimes, if you pair a certain device with another computer then want to reconnect it with the one you’re currently using, you’ll need to (annoyingly) remove the device, then re-pair like you were starting afresh.
To remove the device, just select it from your list of Bluetooth devices and click “Remove device.” To re-pair it, follow the pairing instructions above.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to troubleshoot Bluetooth in Windows?
Bluetooth can be a fiddly business, involving lots of pairing, repairing, and connecting and reconnecting. That’s something you have to live with, sadly, so learning to do it quickly and efficiently is quite handy.
As a general rule, for quick installation and pairing of Bluetooth devices, use “Settings,” and for troubleshooting and updating the drivers of your actual Bluetooth radio, use Device Manager.
Why can't my Bluetooth device discover my Windows PC?
If your Bluetooth device is unable to discover a Windows laptop or PC, first ensure that it is at a close distance from the machine. After that, go to “Settings -> Bluetooth & devices -> More Bluetooth settings -> Options” and select “Allow Bluetooth devices to find this PC.” Also, turn the option on for “Alert me when a new Bluetooth device wants to connect.”
Why is there no Bluetooth on my Windows?
If you can’t find the Bluetooth option on a Windows device, it would indicate that no Bluetooth drivers are installed on your PC. With older laptops, there is a chance that Bluetooth is entirely missing from your device. In such cases, you can’t do anything about it.
More probably, it is just down to some driver issues that need fixing before you can manage Bluetooth devices. Windows lets you fix those missing drivers by reinstalling them from Device Manager or “More Bluetooth Settings” under “Bluetooth & devices.”
Image credit: PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay. All screenshots by Sayak Boral.
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