How to Pair Your Laptop to a Bluetooth Device

Use Bluetooth to pair devices, share files, create hotspots, and more

Woman using laptop in car with Bluetooth headset

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Are you looking for a wireless way to share your phone's internet connection with your laptop through a hotspot, transfer files between devices, or play music through another device? Bluetooth can make all this, and more, possible. To connect two or more devices using Bluetooth, the devices must support Bluetooth. Most modern wireless devices include Bluetooth support but if your laptop doesn't, you might need to buy a Bluetooth adapter.

How to Connect a Bluetooth Laptop to Other Devices

There are many kinds of Bluetooth devices and these steps are only relevant to some. Consult the user manual for the device or the manufacturer website for specific instructions. For example, the steps to pair a Bluetooth surround sound system to a laptop are not the same as pairing headphones, which isn't the same as pairing a smartphone.

These basic instructions for connecting a laptop to a Bluetooth device such as a smartphone or music player might vary depending on the device.

  1. Activate the Bluetooth function on the mobile device to make it discoverable or visible. If the device has a screen, look for Bluetooth in the Settings menu. Other devices have a special button.

  2. On the computer, access the Bluetooth settings and choose to make a new connection or set up a new device. For example, on Windows, either right-click the Bluetooth icon in the notification area or go to the Control Panel to find the Hardware and Sound > Devices and Printers page.

    Show Bluetooth Devices menu in Windows 10
  3. When the device appears in the list of Bluetooth and other devices, select it to connect (pair) it to the laptop.

    Bluetooth devices in Windows 10 Settings
  4. If prompted for a PIN code, either enter or confirm the number on both devices. If the device being paired to the laptop has a screen, such as a phone, you might get a prompt that has a number that you must match with the number on the laptop. If they're the same, click through the connection wizard on both devices to pair the devices over Bluetooth.

    If you don't know the PIN, try 0000 or 1234. If those don't work, search for the device manual online to find the Bluetooth code.

    Enter the PIN for your device message
  5. Once it's connected, depending on the device, you'll be able to do things such as transfer a file between through an application or a Send to > Bluetooth option on the OS. This won't work for some devices such as headphones and peripherals.

Tips

Follow these tips to get better performance from your Bluetooth connection:

  • If setting up the connection from the PC doesn't work, initiate it from the device, for example, hold down the Connect button or find the option in the software settings for the device.
  • Some devices that don't have many buttons or options might connect to any laptop that's listening. For instance, you might be able to find the device through the laptop and click to connect, and the device will indicate it's connected without requiring a passcode of any kind. This is true for most headphones.
  • Turn off Bluetooth when you're not using it, to prevent battery drain.