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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.

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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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