How to Connect Bluetooth Headphones to a PC

Pair a headset with your desktop or laptop

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.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, 8, and 7 as well as Mac computers.

Make Sure Your Computer Has Bluetooth

First, 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.

Check for Bluetooth on a Windows PC

If you have a Windows PC, we need to check an application known as Device Manager to see if your computer has Bluetooth installed. You can go through this process as follows.

  1. Select Start.

  2. Type "Device Manager" into the search box.

    Screenshot of Device Manager in Start search
  3. Select Device Manager in the list that appears.

    Screenshot of Device Manager
  4. In the window that appears, expand Network Adapters.

    Screenshot of Network Adapters in Device Manager
  5. In the list that expands, look for anything that says Bluetooth. If the list shows a device with the word Bluetooth in its name, then you have a Bluetooth adapter on your machine and can proceed to the next step.

Check for Bluetooth on a Mac

If you have a Mac, choose System Preferences from the Apple menu and select Bluetooth. If the Bluetooth preferences displays options to enable Bluetooth and make your device discoverable, Bluetooth is installed.

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 you install the device on your machine, you can then proceed.

Setting Up Your New Bluetooth Headphones in Windows

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. 

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 begin to flash rapidly. Note that some headphones may only stay in this mode for a limited time before resuming regular operation.

  1. Ensure that your headphones are in Discovery Mode according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  2. Select Start and enter "Devices and Printers" into the Search box.

    Screenshot of Devices and Printers in Start Search
  3. Select Printers and Scanners in Windows 10 or Devices and Printers in Windows 8 or Windows 7 in the list that appears.

  4. Select Bluetooth and Other Devices in the left pane of the Printers and Scanners or Devices and Printers window. Choose Add Bluetooth or Other Device.

    Screenshot of Add Bluetooth or Other Device
  5. Allow the computer a moment to find your device and select it from the list.

  6. After a few moments, your Windows PC should alert you that the pairing was successful.

On a Mac computer, select System Preferences from the Apple menu, then click Bluetooth. Wait while your Mac searches for your device. Select Pair when your headphones appear in Bluetooth preferences.

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 off, and be sure to review the included manual, so that you can confirm how to put the device into discovery mode correctly.

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.