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Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology.

Most PCs and almost all phones have Bluetooth capabilities Bluetooth 5: What's New and What's Good? Bluetooth 5: What's New and What's Good? The latest version of Bluetooth has been announced and will be packed full of improvements and new features. Here's everything you need to know about it. Read More . It’s fast, reliable, and the latest version is more battery efficient than previous ones. In short, it’s a convenient way to connect your devices and transfer files between them.

Let’s see how you can connect your devices through Bluetooth.

Why Not Just Use a Cable?

While connecting with a cable may be simpler, it may not be the best choice for you. For example, your PC may not have a free USB port. Small laptops might only have one or two, and even with a well-equipped desktop PC, it’s not unusual for all the ports to be in use.

Moreover, you may not have a cable handy. Or you might be using your cable to charge your phone. Finally, you might want to keep your phone out of sight or avoid the hazard of dangling wires, particularly if you’re in a public place.

Too Many USB Cables
Image Credit: A.S. Zain via Shutterstock

Whatever the reason, connecting with Bluetooth is fairly easy, and — once you’ve completed the initial setup — can be automatic. It can be handy if you frequently transfer files between your phone and PC.

How to Connect

In order to connect, both devices need to have Bluetooth turned on.

On most Android phones, you’ll see a Bluetooth toggle icon in the Quick Settings dropdown menu. If not, you’ll find it in the Settings menu. On iOS, to go to Settings and look for the General heading. Once it’s on, the Bluetooth icon should appear in the status bar.

For Windows 7, select the Start button, then select Devices and Printers. Select Add a Device and wait until it discovers your phone, then select Next.

For Windows 10, select the Start button, and type Bluetooth. Select Bluetooth settings. If Bluetooth is off, turn it on, select your phone, and select Pair.

Windows 10 Bluetooth Pairing

Follow any instructions that appear on your PC or phone. Most likely, you’ll have to type or confirm a pass code. Once you do, your phone should automatically connect to your PC. It’s that simple.

The connection will remain active until you turn off Bluetooth, unpair the devices, turn one of the devices off, or move them out of range. Bluetooth is a short-range technology, and phones should have a range of around 10 meters (33 feet), while most laptop and desktop PCs will have a range of around 100 meters (328 feet).

How to Transfer Files

Transferring files via Bluetooth is straightforward once you have paired the devices.

To transfer from your phone to your PC, simply select the file you want in whatever application you’re using and choose the option to share it. You’ll usually have the option to share in a number of ways. Look for the Bluetooth icon and then select your PC as the device you want to send to. Windows will probably request confirmation and allow you to choose the location to store the file.

If you’re transferring a file from your PC, simply open Windows Explorer, right-click on the file you want to transfer, select Send to and then select Bluetooth device.

Send to Bluetooth menu

This will open up a window where you can select the device you want to send to from all available devices. Your phone may ask you for approval to accept the device. Once you select it, the file will be transferred.

You can transfer multiple files in either direction, just by selecting all the files you want to transfer and following the above steps.

Other Ways of Connecting

If you don’t have Bluetooth, or even if you do, another way of connecting might be easier, faster, or otherwise better suited to your needs. Bluetooth is quite battery intensive particularly for older versions, so if your phone is dated or you’re trying to conserve battery life How to Optimize Windows 10 for Battery Life How to Optimize Windows 10 for Battery Life Battery life is a pretty important factor for mobile devices. While Windows 10 does offer new features to manage power settings, the defaults are not necessarily contributing to optimal battery life. Time to change that. Read More , you may want to connect another way.

The type of connection you need depends on your setup and what it is you want to do. Here are a few alternatives.

USB Cable

The simplest way to connect your phone and PC is with a USB cable. There’s no setup involved. As soon as you connect the cable, you will have to select the action you want to take. If you want to explore the contents of your phone or transfer a large number of files, this is probably a better option than Bluetooth. It’s potentially a lot faster and it’s more secure Why Bluetooth Is a Security Risk and What You Can Do about It Why Bluetooth Is a Security Risk and What You Can Do about It Bluetooth is useful, and makes connecting to PCs, cars, and other devices convenient. But are you aware of the security risks while using Bluetooth, even on the latest devices? Read More .

Email & Cloud Storage

If you just want to transfer a small number of files, then emailing them to yourself might be the quick and dirty solution you need. Alternatively, use a cloud storage service Share Files Between Your Computer & Your Android Device With Dropbox Share Files Between Your Computer & Your Android Device With Dropbox Dropbox is an ingenious file storing and sharing tool. Not only can you upload files to your online Dropbox and share single files or entire folders, you can also install the Dropbox application on your... Read More . Be aware that these methods both involve uploading and downloading, so if you’re on a slow or metered connection, you may want to think twice about transferring large files.

Wi-Fi Direct

For a wireless connection that’s faster and more robust than Bluetooth, you can use Wi-Fi Direct WiFi Direct: Windows Wireless File Transfer That's Faster Than Bluetooth WiFi Direct: Windows Wireless File Transfer That's Faster Than Bluetooth Wireless data sharing from a Windows 8 computer to another device comes with its challenges. With Bluetooth and WiFi Direct we tested two popular and widely available solutions. This is what we found... Read More . The setup is more complicated but the transfer speeds and range are much better.

VNC & Tethering

If you want to keep your phone and PC connected no matter where you are, and no matter how far apart your devices are, then you’ll need to set up Virtual Network Computing How To Set Up Remote Computer Access With Your Mobile Phone How To Set Up Remote Computer Access With Your Mobile Phone Read More (VNC).

If you need to use mobile internet on your PC, you can tether your phone to your PC Tethering: How To Use Mobile Internet On Your PC Tethering: How To Use Mobile Internet On Your PC Want to share your phone's data connection with your computer? Here's exactly how to do it, how fast you can expect it to be, and how it will affect your battery life. Read More in a number of ways.

Stay Connected

Each method of connecting your computer and your smartphone has its advantages and disadvantages. Figure out what it is you want to do and then pick the most appropriate method for your needs. As for Bluetooth, it’s a great method for temporary short-range connections.

Have you ever used Bluetooth to connect your phone and PC? Did you find it easy to set up? How often do you use it? Do you prefer another way of connecting? Please let us know in the comments section below.

Originally written by Dean Sherwin on November 5, 2009.

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  1. Pete Sosa
    January 11, 2017 at 6:10 am

    I use Bluetooth to move music from my collection to my phone. I have a 32 bit auxiliary chip for extra storage. Works flawlessly with Win10.

  2. Sandy
    October 30, 2016 at 3:11 am

    I have over three hundred photos stored on my phone's Bluetooth. How can I delete them. They are taking up too much space.

    • g.m.nelson
      January 13, 2017 at 11:31 am

      BLUETOOTH is not storage, it is method of file transfer. once you send your photos to your computer or other storage asset you can use the gallery options of your phone to delete the original file and recover the space.

  3. mir
    March 2, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    i can connect from my pc (win 10) to phone but i cant connect from my samsung to pc when i try to share from phone to pc its says sending failed but when from pc to phone it send sucessfully

    • g.m.nelson
      December 30, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      TRY OPENING THE BLUETOOTH ICON ON THE COMPUTER AND CLICK ON 'RECEIVE FILE' THEN TRY SENDING FROM THE PHONE. I ALSO FOUND THIS QUIRK WHEN I UPGRADED TO WIN 10

      • Mr. Cervik
        March 15, 2017 at 3:14 pm

        Thank you a lot G.M.Nelson, that's not intuitive at all, would've never found it without you ;-)

  4. Aj
    January 4, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    hey what do you do when the bluetooth driver has been disabled?
    I used the bluetooth facility on my laptop b4 it went 4 a repair and now the blutooth doesn't work. what do i do?

  5. Peter
    November 6, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Bluetooth is more insecure than WEP. I could do a drive by attack on it easily.

  6. emily
    November 6, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Instructions were very helpful up to the point that I tried to transfer photos of darling grandchild from the phone (Samsung Instinct) to the PC. The phone recognises the printer nearby, but is not showing the PC. The PC knows about the phone, so I'm not at all sure what to do next ... success seems always a click beyond my understanding.

  7. sfrost
    November 6, 2009 at 7:55 am

    I use bluetooth if I need to charge my touch pro2 while using my phone as a modem. Speeds are about the same as when its plugged in USB so its not even noticeable but the phone is so power hungry that the USB power supply is not enough.

  8. bben
    November 5, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Unfortunately, the only way Verizon allows my (their) phone to access anything is through their incredibly expensive service. They will not allow any direct transfer using either USB or bluetooth. To transfer a picture from the phone to my computer 2 feet away, I have to send it through their system. The only reason I put up with their BS is the phone and basic service are provided free by the company I work for.

    • Dean Sherwin
      November 6, 2009 at 4:56 am

      That sounds awful. I'v never heard of that. I'm in Ireland an if you ant to transfer something to your phone its as easy as drag and drop in most cases. Never heard of the network getting involved. I might try to find a way around that and do a post.

  9. James
    November 5, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Using the windows Bluetooth drivers I wasn't able to access all the features of my phone, only using it as a modem was available. I installed bluesoleil and now I can download/upload photos, contacts, and calendars. All I wanted was to be able to get my photos off and the windows drivers wouldn't let me do that. Might have been the cheap eBay dongle.

  10. vietvet52
    November 5, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    i upgraded to window and i don't see the blue-tooth in my control panel