Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology.
Most PCs and almost all phones have Bluetooth capabilities. 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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. 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.
For a wireless connection that’s faster and more robust than Bluetooth, you can use Wi-Fi Direct. 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 (VNC).
If you need to use mobile internet on your PC, you can tether your phone to your PC in a number of ways.
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.
And if you don’t have Bluetooth on your PC, check out the best Bluetooth adapters for your computer.
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.