Updated by Tina Sieber on 22 August 2017.
Bluetooth is an alternative to wires – with Bluetooth, you can connect Bluetooth-enabled phones, mice, headsets, printers, keyboards, tablets, and many other devices with a Bluetooth-supporting computer.
You can transfer files back and forth, use a mouse or keyboard as a wireless input device, or use a wireless headset for audio input and output – Bluetooth can do many things, depending on the type of Bluetooth device you have.
Bluetooth is fairly simple to use, but it can be a bit confusing to new users. To connect two Bluetooth devices together, one (or both) of the devices must be “discoverable.” The initial Bluetooth connection process is known as “pairing.”
Enable Bluetooth on Your Computer & Device
First, ensure Bluetooth is enabled on your computer. Many computers come with Bluetooth support, but it may be disabled by default to save battery power. You can often find a button that toggles Bluetooth on your laptop’s keyboard or in your computer manufacturer’s included software.
If your computer doesn’t have Bluetooth support, you can buy a cheap Bluetooth adapter – the small adapter plugs into a USB port on your computer.
Next, ensure Bluetooth is enabled on the device you want to pair with your computer.
Bluetooth will be enabled by default on Bluetooth mice and headsets, but Bluetooth support may be disabled on smartphones and tablets. The exact location of this option will depend on your device — for example, you’ll find a Bluetooth toggle on Android’s settings screen.
Make the PC or Device Discoverable
While Bluetooth is now enabled on both your computer and device, they still can’t see each other. To see a Bluetooth device, it must be discoverable – in discoverable mode, your PC or device sends out signals advertising itself. This is disabled by default for security purposes – it only needs to be enabled when you’re pairing devices.
You only need to make one of the devices discoverable – either your PC or the device you want to connect.
To make your Windows 7 PC discoverable, click the Start button, and select Devices and Printers at the right side of the Start menu. Right-click your computer in the list of devices and select Bluetooth settings.
Click the Allow Bluetooth devices to find this computer checkbox in the Bluetooth Settings window, and then click OK. Your computer will now be discoverable to other devices.
To make a device discoverable, go into its Bluetooth options and look for the discoverable setting.
Pair the Device
You can now pair the device with your computer. If you’ve made your PC discoverable, you can select your PC in the list of available devices on your other smartphone or tablet to initiate the pairing process.
You can also add a device from your PC, assuming the device itself is discoverable. First, click the Add a device button in the Devices and Printers window. (If you want to pair a Bluetooth printer, click Add a printer instead.)
Windows will look for discoverable Bluetooth devices and present them in the list. Select one and click Next to add it.
If you don’t see your Bluetooth device here, ensure that it’s discoverable and has Bluetooth enabled.
For many devices, you’ll see a passkey – ensure the key on your PC and on the device are the same. This helps you ensure you’re connecting the device to the correct computer, not another nearby computer.
You’ll have to agree to the pairing request on the device. If you start the pairing process from the device, you’ll have to agree to it on your computer – a window will pop up asking you to confirm the connection. This helps prevent other people from pairing with your device when it’s in discoverable mode.
You can double-click the device in the Devices and Printers window to access more features, such as the ability to send files and play music. The exact features available will depend on your device.
Discover, Pair, GO!
Now that your device and computer are paired, they’ll continue working together — you won’t have to go through the pairing process each time you want to use the device.
When you’re not pairing devices, ensure that both the device and your PC aren’t discoverable. You may also want to disable Bluetooth when you’re not using it – this helps save battery power on both your computer and your device. And if you don’t have one yet, check out the loudest Bluetooth speakers money can buy.
What do you use Bluetooth for? Is it something you’ve never used, even though so many new computers and devices include Bluetooth support? Leave a comment and share your experience!