How to Connect Bluetooth Headphones to a PC

Pink Bluetooth Headphones on a Mac
Learn to setup your bluetooth headphones with a Mac or PC.

Krisanapong Detraphiphat/Getty Images

You may have just picked up a new pair of Bluetooth wireless headphones, but what exactly does that mean and how can you get them connected to your computer? While you may feel intimidated by the process, know that it is simple and easy to jump into the wireless world. Once you start listening to digital music via Bluetooth, you’ll wonder how you ever dealt with all the wires in the past.

Discover if Your Computer Has Bluetooth

We need first to confirm that the Windows PC or Mac you want to use has Bluetooth technology built–in. Depending on which platform you are utilizing, check the appropriate instruction below to go about the simple process. If you do not end up having Bluetooth on your system, don’t fret as we will address that minor obstacle.

Screenshot showing the Bluetooth discovery process in action in Windows 10

Windows PC:

If you have a Windows PC, we need to check an application known as ‘Device Manager’ to see if it denotes that a Bluetooth radio is installed inside your computer. You can go through this process as follows:

  1. Click on the Windows Start Icon.
  2. In Search–box, type ‘Device Manager.’
  3. Select ‘Device Manager’ in the list that appears.
  4. In the window that appears, click the ‘+’ icon next to ‘Network Adapters.’
  5. In the list that expands look for anything that says ‘Bluetooth.’

If the list showcases a device with the word ‘Bluetooth’ in its name, then congratulations – you have a Bluetooth adapter on your machine and can proceed to the next step.

Mac:

If you have a Mac, we need to check your System Preferences to see if it showcases that a Bluetooth radio is installed inside your computer. You can go through this process as follows:

  1. Click ‘logo in the upper left–hand corner of your screen.
  2. From the drop–down menu, select ‘System Preferences.’
  3. In the Window that appears, select the icon that has ‘Bluetooth’ printed below it.

If you can click on the Bluetooth icon, then congratulations – you have a Bluetooth adapter on your machine and can proceed to the next step.

If You Have No Bluetooth Device Installed

Don’t worry too much if you don’t have a Bluetooth device already installed. While most modern computers already have the hardware, it is easy to add on by visiting your favorite technology retailer and purchasing a ‘Bluetooth Dongle;’ this is a small thumb–sized device that plugs into one of your computer’s available USB ports. Once the device is installed on your machine, you can then proceed.

Setting Up Your New Bluetooth Headphones

The process for setting up your Bluetooth headphones is quite straightforward, but again varies based on whether you have a Windows PC or Mac. At a step in the process, you will need to put your headphones into what is called ‘Discovery Mode.’ Every set of headphones accomplish this differently, so you will need to reference your headphone instructions on how to go about the process. 

Man listening to wireless headphones in cafe
Get your headphones setup to enjoy your favorite tunes wirelessly. Flashpop/Getty Images

Tip: In most cases, ‘Discovery Mode’ can be activated by turning the headphones off, then holding down the power button until a pair of indicator lights begins to flash rapidly. Note that some headphones may only stay in this mode for a limited time before resuming normal operation.

Windows PC:

  1. Click on the Windows Start Icon.
  2. In Search–box, type ‘Devices and Printers.’
  3. Select ‘Devices and Printers’ in the list that appears.
  4. Ensure that your headphones are in ‘Discovery Mode’ (check manual).
  5. Select ‘Add a Device’ in the ‘Devices and Printers’ window.
  6. Allow the computer a moment to find your device and select it from the list.
  7. After a few moments, your Windows PC should alert you that the pairing was successful.

Mac:

  1. Click ‘logo in the upper left–hand corner of your screen.
  2. From the drop–down menu, select ‘System Preferences.’
  3. Ensure that your headphones are in ‘Discovery Mode’ (check manual).
  4. In the Window that appears on your Mac, select the icon that has ‘Bluetooth’ printed below it.
  5. Allow the computer a moment to find your device and select it from the list.
  6. After a few moments, your Mac should alert you that the pairing was successful.

A celebration is in order as you have officially entered the world of wireless Bluetooth headphones – say goodbye to wires! Now, whenever you turn on your headphones, and they are in range, they will automatically connect to your Windows PC or Mac. This process we just performed, know as ‘Pairing,’ only needs to be completed once at setup.

Fixing Possible Bluetooth Problems

If you find that your headphones have not paired correctly with your laptop, we recommend starting again from the beginning of the setup process. Turn your headphones completely off and be sure to review the included manual, so that you can confirm how to properly put the device into 'discovery mode.'

If you have confirmed that your headphones are in the proper mode and your computer still fails to detect them, attempt to restart your computer. If the problem persists, contact the headphone manufacturer for more assistance.