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.

Remote worker with headphones and a laptop sitting
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Connecting Devices to PCs With Built-In Bluetooth Capabilities

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

How to Connect Wireless Input Devices

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 the PC, select Start.

    The Start button in Windows 10
  3. Select Settings.

    The Windows 10 Start menu with Settings highlighted
  4. Choose Devices.

    The Devices item in Windows Settings
  5. Select Bluetooth & other devices in the left pane.

    The Bluetooth & Other Devices heading
  6. Turn on Bluetooth, if it isn't toggled on.

    The Bluetooth switch in Windows 10
  7. Select Add Bluetooth or other device.

    The Add Bluetooth or Other Device command
  8. In the Add a device window, select Bluetooth.

    The Bluetooth option in Add a Device
  9. 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

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.

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

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

    The Connect option in Action Center
  3. Select the device's name from the next screen and follow any additional instructions that appear to connect the device to the PC.

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

How to Connect Devices to PCs Without Built-In Bluetooth Capabilities

Laptops haven't always come 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.

Flash memory drive plugged into a laptop port
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Some Bluetooth devices ship with receivers that you plug into the laptop. Still, many wireless devices don't come with a receiver. 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.

    The Bluetooth icon in the Windows 10 taskbar
  3. Select Add a Bluetooth Device. The computer searches for discoverable devices.

    The "Add a Bluetooth Device" command
  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.

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