How to Add Bluetooth to Your Computer

A Bluetooth adapter for your PC is the easiest way

Bluetooth is used by lots of devices, such as headphones and keyboards. Many computers have it as well, but if yours doesn't, you can add it through a Bluetooth dongle/adapter. Fortunately, setup is pretty straightforward.

This guide is relevant for computers running Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7.

Do You Already Have Bluetooth?

You should ask yourself this before following the steps below because they involve purchasing a Bluetooth dongle.

Learn how to set up Bluetooth devices and see what to do when Windows 11 Bluetooth isn't working or when Windows 10 Bluetooth isn't working. It's possible that it's already available on your computer, but adding a device just isn't working.

Find a Bluetooth Adapter

Mouse wireless adapter
David Montgomery / Getty Images 

Getting a Bluetooth adapter for your PC is the easiest way to add this functionality to a desktop or laptop. You don't need to worry about opening your computer case, installing a Bluetooth card, or anything like that.

Bluetooth dongles use USB, so they plug into the outside of your computer via an open USB port. They're inexpensive, compact, and easy to find at places like Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy, etc.

Generally speaking, you want to get the fastest Bluetooth transmitter your PC will support. For most modern PCs, that means a USB 3.0 adapter. However, if you look at your PC's USB ports and they've got black plastic inserts, they're probably USB 2.0. If they're blue or labeled SS (for SuperSpeed), they're USB 3.0. This matters because while USB 3.0 devices work in USB 2.0 ports, they won't work as fast as when plugged into USB 3.0 ports.

Install the Bluetooth Adapter to Your Computer

In most cases, you can just plug the adapter into your computer to let Windows install the necessary device driver automatically. But if that doesn't work, try a driver updater tool or visit the manufacturer's website for specific installation directions.

Each of the four Bluetooth adapters we tried installed on their own.

Connect a Device to the Bluetooth Adapter

Now that you have an adapter connected to your computer, it's time to pair a device with it.

  • Windows 11: Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Add device > Bluetooth.
  • Windows 10: Settings > Devices > Add Bluetooth or other device > Bluetooth.
  • Windows 8/7: Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Devices and Printers > Add a device.
Add a device screen in Windows 11
Add a device screen in Windows 11.

You might have to complete the pairing process by entering a code on either device.

Bluetooth device PIN prompt in Windows 11
Bluetooth device PIN prompt in Windows 11.

If you need specific directions, learn how to connect Bluetooth headphones to a PC, how to use Bluetooth speakers with your computer, how to connect a Bluetooth mouse, or how to get internet through a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone.

Using Bluetooth With Other Devices

Bluetooth isn't restricted to just computers. You can also add Bluetooth to a TV and get Bluetooth in your car.

  • Can I add Bluetooth to my PC without using an adapter?

    It's possible to add Bluetooth to your PC without plugging in an adapter, but it's a more involved process. You'll need to open up your computer and install a PCIe card that adds Bluetooth functionality on your motherboard.

  • How do I make the Bluetooth icon appear in my Windows 10 taskbar?

    Select Start > Settings gear icon > Devices > More Bluetooth Options to open the Bluetooth Settings window. From there select the Options tab and check Show the Bluetooth icon in the notification area, then restart Windows.

  • How do I enable Bluetooth on my Mac?

    Most modern Macs have Bluetooth functionality out of the box, but you might need to enable it in some situations. Select the Apple logo in the top-left > System Preferences > Bluetooth > Turn Bluetooth On.

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