How to Set Up a Bluetooth Device on a PC

Pair headphones, a speaker, and more

Most modern laptops and computers come with built-in Bluetooth capabilities. Because of this, you can use all sorts of wireless speakers, headphones, fitness trackers, keyboards, trackpads and mice with your PC.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7.

Connecting Devices to PCs With Built-In Bluetooth Capabilities

To make a Bluetooth device work, you first have to ensure you have Bluetooth capabilities on your computer. If not, you can add Bluetooth easier than you think. Once you're sure you have it, then you just need to make the wireless device discoverable and pair it with your computer. The pairing process differs depending on what you are connecting to your PC. For example, you'll take different steps to pair a Bluetooth surround sound system than to pair Bluetooth headphones, or pairing a smartphone, etc

Young man with headphones and a laptop sitting
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To connect a wireless keyboard, mouse or similar device to your PC in Windows 10, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on the keyboard, mouse, or similar device to make it discoverable.

  2. On your PC, press Start, and select Settings > Devices > Bluetooth.

    Screenshot of Bluetooth & Other Devices in Windows Settings
  3. Turn on Bluetooth, if it is not already toggled on.

  4. Select Add Bluetooth or Other Device.

  5. Select Bluetooth in the Add a Device window.

    Screenshot of Bluetooth in the Add a Device window
  6. Select the device you want to pair in the list of Bluetooth devices Windows finds. Follow any on-screen steps to complete the connection.

How to Connect a Headset, Speaker or Other Audio Device

Bluetooth wireless speaker
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The way you make audio devices discoverable varies. Check the documentation that came with the device or at the manufacturer's website for specific instructions. Then:

  1. Turn on the Bluetooth headset, speaker, or other audio device and make it discoverable by following the manufacturer's instructions.

  2. On your PC's taskbar, select Action Center > Connect to turn on Bluetooth on your PC if it isn't already on. 

    Screenshot of Action Center > Connect
  3. Select Connect  > device name and follow any additional instructions that appear to connect the device to your PC.

    Screenshot of devices in Connect screen in Action Center

After a device is paired with your PC, it usually reconnects automatically whenever the two devices are in the range of each other, assuming Bluetooth is turned on.

Connecting Devices to PCs Without Built-In Bluetooth Capabilities

Flash memory drive plugged into a laptop port
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Laptops haven't always come to Bluetooth-ready. Computers without built-in Bluetooth capabilities interact with Bluetooth wireless devices with the help of a small receiver that plugs into a USB port on the computer.

Some Bluetooth devices ship with their own receivers that you plug into the laptop, but many wireless devices don't come with their own receivers. To use this, you'll need to buy a Bluetooth receiver for your computer. Most electronics retailers carry this inexpensive item.

  1. Insert the Bluetooth receiver into a USB port. 

  2. Select the Bluetooth devices icon in the lower-right corner of the taskbar. If the icon doesn't appear automatically, select the upward-pointing arrow to reveal the Bluetooth symbol.

    Screenshot of Bluetooth Devices in taskbar
  3. Select Add a Bluetooth Device. The computer will search for any discoverable devices.

    Screenshot of Add a Bluetooth Device
  4. Select the Connect or Pair button on the Bluetooth device (or follow the manufacturer's instructions to make it discoverable). The wireless device often has an indicator light that flashes when it is ready to be paired to the PC.

  5. Select the name of the Bluetooth device in the devices found in Windows. Follow any on-screen instructions to complete the pairing of the device to the computer.

    Screenshot of discovered devices in Windows