Finding a Lost Bluetooth Device

Use tech to find your tech

When you set up a Bluetooth device, you usually pair it to another device. For instance, you’ll pair a headset to a phone or a phone to a car speakerphone/audio system. This pairing mechanism is critical to helping you find a lost Bluetooth device, and we’ll show you how and why.

I’ve Lost My Bluetooth Device (Headset, Fitbit, etc.)! Now What?

As long as your headset or device still has some battery life and was turned on when you lost it, the odds are pretty good that you'll be able to find it using a smartphone and a Bluetooth scanning app. Several of these apps are available for both iOS and Android-based phones and tablets.

  1. Download a Bluetooth Scanner App

    Before you begin the hunt, you need the right tools: your smartphone and a Bluetooth scanner app. Such an app lists all the Bluetooth devices nearby that are broadcasting and should show you one other important bit of information that will help you locate the device: signal strength.

    Bluetooth signal strength is usually measured in decibel-milliwatts (dBm). The higher the number or the closer the negative number is to zero, the better. For example, -1 dBm is a much stronger signal than -100 dBm.

    If you have an iOS-based phone, check out Bluetooth Smart Scanner by Ace Sensor. This free app can locate Bluetooth devices in the area (including low-energy types. To find other options, search for “Bluetooth Scanner.”

    For Android users, Bluetooth Finder in the Google Play app store provides similar functionality. A similar app for Windows-based phones is available, too.

    Android Bluetooth Finder app
  2. Make Sure Bluetooth Is Active on Your Phone

    Your phone won't be able to pick up the signal from the lost Bluetooth device if your phone’s Bluetooth radio is turned off. Make sure you turn Bluetooth on in your phone’s settings before using the Bluetooth locator apps downloaded in the previous step.

    Android settings enable Bluetooth
  3. Open the App and Scan

    Now the game of electronic Marco Polo begins. In the Bluetooth scanning app, locate the missing Bluetooth item in the list of found devices and note its signal strength. If it’s not showing up, move around in the location where you think you might have left it until it shows up on the list.​

    Once the item has shown up on the list, you can try to locate it. If the signal strength drops (for example, goes from -200 dBm to -10 dBm), you've moved away from the device. If the signal strength improves (e.g., goes from -10 dBm to -1 dBm), you're getting warmer. Keep playing this game of "hot or cold" until you find your phone.

  4. Finding a Device With Audio Output

If you’ve lost something such as a headset, send some loud music to it via your phone’s music app. Chances are, you can control the volume of your Bluetooth headset on your phone, so you can crank the volume all the way up and listen for music coming from the headset.