Increasingly, computers and laptops come with built-in Bluetooth. But what if yours doesn’t? The sensible solution is to use a Bluetooth dongle, but once you’ve bought one, how do you set it up? Here’s everything you need to know about setting up Bluetooth on Windows 10.
Why Do You Need a Bluetooth Dongle?
If you need to connect a Bluetooth device to your computer (perhaps a game controller, or an earphone/mic combination headset), then there’s a chance that you’ll need a USB Bluetooth dongle to make the connection.
However, it is worth first checking if your computer has Bluetooth built in. If you cannot find the documentation to check, you have several options:
- Drag your mouse to the system tray and look for an item labeled “Bluetooth radio”.
- Click Start > Settings (or Windows key + I) and use the search box to enter “Bluetooth”. Select Bluetooth and other devices settings. If you have Bluetooth, this screen will be present, and you’ll be able to enable the Bluetooth radio to scan for devices.
- A quicker option is to open the Action Center (which you can often use instead of Settings) then Expand; if Bluetooth hardware is present on your computer, it will be listed here.
These are the main ways to check for and enable Bluetooth, but there are other options also:
- The Device Manager: press Windows key + R and enter msc to open the Device Manager. If your PC has a built-in Bluetooth radio, you’ll find it listed here, under Bluetooth.
- Your PC or laptop body: some devices have a physical switch to toggle connectivity, including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This may be a small on/off switch, or it may be a keyboard shortcut, typically accessed via the function keys.
If you have a Windows 7 machine, check out this guide on how to set up Bluetooth on your Windows 7 laptop.
Once Bluetooth is enabled, you’ll be ready to begin hooking up compatible hardware.
How to Add Bluetooth to Your PC or Laptop
What if your device doesn’t have Bluetooth hardware?
The only solution is to add it, which is fortunately very easy. All you need is a Bluetooth dongle, an adapter that connects via USB. Once installed and active, the dongle will enable you to connect any Bluetooth device to your computer.
As long as the Bluetooth dongle ships with drivers or they’re available via Windows Update, you’ll soon be able to sync devices via Bluetooth. Note that you may need to reboot your computer.
Once Bluetooth hardware is added, you’ll be able to use the shortcuts above to toggle the visibility of your device.
Looking for a USB Bluetooth Adapter? Try These!
If you’re looking for a USB Bluetooth Adapter, you’ll be pleased to know that they’re both cheap, and compact. Long gone are the days of two-inch long USB Bluetooth radios with little pop-up adapters. These days, they’re the same size as the very smallest USB flash memory sticks. As long as you keep it connected most of the time, you’re unlikely to lose your USB Bluetooth dongle.
But which one should you choose?
A slightly more expensive option from ASUS, the ASUS USB Adapter is compatible with Windows XP and later and again uses the Bluetooth 4.0 LE specification. It has a range of 10 meters (uninterrupted space) and can transfer up to 3Mbps of data, and you’ll also find it on Amazon.
If you’re looking for something with a longer range (perhaps for gaming), Amazon also stock this Avantree device—compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch—includes low latency technology and can be used over a distance of 20 meters.
Really, the one you choose depends on your budget, and whether you have an Amazon Prime subscription. All of these devices will add Bluetooth to your PC, so it’s really down to you to pick the one you have the most confidence in based on price and reviews.
Oh, and don’t forget: Some Bluetooth devices ship with their own USB Bluetooth adapter, so you may not even need to buy one. As always, check the packaging for details.
How to Connect Bluetooth Headphones to Your PC
With Bluetooth ready to use, it’s time to add a device. Many different types of Bluetooth hardware are available, such as:
- Keyboard and mouse
- Game controllers
It’s also possible to sync mobile devices via Bluetooth in some cases. Whatever the case, however, to get started you will need to be able to connect the device to your computer in order to start using it.
The process is generally the same regardless of what you’re connecting, but we’re going to take a look at how to connect a typical Bluetooth headset (choose one of these awesome Bluetooth headsets) to your PC.
Begin by finding the Bluetooth button on your headset. This might be on one of the earpieces, or it could be on the wire. Once you’ve found this, don’t activate the device just yet; instead, ensure that Bluetooth is enabled on Windows, as described in the section above.
If Bluetooth is set to On, your computer is discoverable. You should use the Add Bluetooth or other device button to proceed, and hold the Bluetooth button on the headset (activating according to that device’s instructions).
A few moments later, the headset should have been detected, so select, and wait for it to be connected. Soon, you’ll be able to listen to audio on your computer. The simplest way to check this is to play an MP3, or head to Spotify or even YouTube to play media. If you can hear it through the headset, then the Bluetooth connection has been established.
Note that in the Bluetooth settings screen there is a checkbox labeled Show notifications to connect using Swift Pair. If your Bluetooth devices support this, you should be able to quickly connect to them if they’re nearby. Simply check the box, and use the notification (when it appears) to enable the connection.
You’ve Successfully Added Bluetooth to Your PC!
As long as your computer has the necessary Bluetooth radio hardware built in or connected, it should be simple to enable it and sync a Bluetooth device.
After all, all you needed to do was find out if Bluetooth was available, add it if not, and then enable it in settings. Hooking up a headset should have been straightforward, and other devices will be just as simple to connect.
We also recommend reading up on these Bluetooth myths you can safely ignore. For example, modern versions of Bluetooth no longer kill battery!