Connecting Bluetooth Devices to Your Mac

You can connect a variety of standard wireless Bluetooth devices to your Mac, like headphones, speaker systems, keyboards, mice and trackpads. Setting up a new Bluetooth device requires that you look at the documentation that came with the device. Every device has a slightly different way to start the pairing process. On the Mac side, you use System Preferences to recognize and connect to the device.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Connecting Bluetooth Devices to Your Mac.

So let's take a look at how to pair bluetooth devices with your Mac. So there are all sorts of bluetooth devices. One of the common types is either a set of speakers or a headphone. I've got a little speaker set here that works with a battery. I'm going to pair this with a Mac so that I can play sound through it. Then we're going to look at pairing something completely different. A keyboard.

First, for this and for any device, you need to look at the manual you get with it. Some little quick start page and see how you start pairing. Because with every device it's different. I've seen headphones where there's a pairing button. I've seen one where you have to press and hold one of the volume buttons. All sorts of different things.

In this case there's a special pairing button on here that I'm told that I need to press and hold after I power it up. So I've powered it up and then I'm going to press and hold and after I do that I can see that there's a blue light that is blinking just like the instructions say. I put it down now and on my Mac I'm going to go to System Preferences. In System Preferences I'll go to Bluetooth and it will search for devices. Now it already shows one device that is connected. That's my trackpad. There's the device that I just set to pairing.

So I'm going to hit Pair and it will show connecting. Now connected. I even heard a sound from the speaker set. I've heard this in headphones too when you've done it saying this is paired. Now I can choose this as a way to pipe sound here. You can see I've got that device now listed for sound out. So it's that easy when you've got either a speaker system or some headphones.

If you ever want to disconnect the device I simply go back here into Bluetooth in System Preferences and hit the X and it will disconnect.

Now different devices do it differently so you have to pay attention to the instructions. For instance this old Mac bluetooth keyboard is very different than that sound system. So here's what you need to do here. I'm going to press and hold the power button and as soon as I see it appear I'll hit Pair. I'm going to keep holding the power button on the keyboard until I see the next thing come up which should be a request. There it is. Pair this keyboard entering the following numbers on the keyboard and then press the return key. So it's going to do this ultra secure thing where I have to actually enter these numbers in and then hit return.

Now it says it's connected and you can use the keyboard. You can also, for keyboards, go to keyboard and there's a Setup Bluetooth Keyboard here which is just a shortcut to take you to the same place. The same thing for mice. Setup Bluetooth Mouse. So every device is a little different.

So whenever you see these postings and people asking for help, how do I set this device up on my Mac, the answer is always the first thing is to check the book and see which buttons you have to press, how do you put the device into discovery or discoverable mode, and then follow those instructions and then it should be pretty simple from the backside.

Comments: 7 Responses to “Connecting Bluetooth Devices to Your Mac”

    2 years ago

    Had a Magic Mouse 2 that stopped working, Bluetooth jittered on/off. Called Apple and was told to do a SMC, and several other steps. No luck. Was told to buy a new mouse. Instead I took it to the Apple Store and it worked on two of their Macs. They couldn’t answer why it would’t stay paired. I opened Bluetooth, clicked the X and it re-paired immediately and works fine. Sometimes trying things will save money!

    2 years ago

    i have an android phone which is successfully paired to my iMac but i am unable to transfer a .jpg image from the phone to the Mac . I just get the message “transfer failed” . any suggestions?

    2 years ago

    Dave: Bluetooth connections for Macs are usually for headphones, speakers, keyboards and mice. They are not usually used for file transfer. It sounds like that isn’t possible between your phone and a Mac.

    2 years ago

    Hi, first of all I think you are doing a great job here.
    I tried to connect my Sony Xperia cellphone to my MacbookPro through bluetooth connection. Both devices kan see each other but connection fails after 2 seconds am I missing something.

    2 years ago

    Nourix: There’s really nothing for a phone and a MacBook Pro to “do” over Bluetooth. The phone isn’t a speaker system, headphones, mouse or trackpad, or any other Bluetooth input device. What are you trying to connect the phone for?

    michael holmes
    2 years ago

    Bluetooth: once paired is there an order that must be followed..? i.e.; bluetooth speaker must be on before opening MacBook Air..? Mac Book Air must be on and Spotify must be open before turning on bluetooth speaker..? I find if I am working and get inspiration to listen to music, I have to do a lot of mucking around just to do the equivalent of an old fashioned radio operation, ‘turn-on-radio-select-radio-station.’

    2 years ago

    There is no order. If the device has been pairs with your Mac, you should just power it on and it should connect. Then choose it as your audio output. But devices can sometimes be finicky. I have one set of earphones that always work right away. Another that sometimes need to be re-paired.

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