How to install, enable, and troubleshoot Bluetooth

Updated: 09/03/2019 by Computer Hope
SMC Bluetooth adapter

Some computers, like laptops, come with Bluetooth preinstalled, while others, like desktop computers, require a Bluetooth adapter to be installed. In either case, having a Bluetooth adapter in a computer is required to turn on and use Bluetooth.

Below are steps for checking if Bluetooth is installed, how it's turned on, and how to fix Bluetooth that cannot be turned on.

Check if Bluetooth is installed

Checking a computer to see if a Bluetooth adapter is built-in or installed can be done by looking in the Device Manager.

  1. Open the Device Manager.
  2. Look for the Bluetooth entry and click the arrow to the right of the entry to expand the Bluetooth hardware list.

Device Manager with Bluetooth

In the Bluetooth hardware list, the Bluetooth adapter should be listed. In the example picture above, "Intel Wireless Bluetooth" is the Bluetooth adapter.

If a Bluetooth adapter is listed, then the computer has Bluetooth capabilities. If a Bluetooth adapter is not listed, the computer does not have Bluetooth capabilities and will require a Bluetooth adapter to be installed.

Check if Bluetooth is enabled

Checking if Bluetooth is turned on can be done in the Device Manager.

  1. In the Device Manager, locate the Bluetooth entry and expand the Bluetooth hardware list.
  2. Right-click on the Bluetooth adapter in the Bluetooth hardware list.
  3. In the pop-up menu that appears, if the Enable option is available, click that option to enable and turn on Bluetooth.

Device Manager with Bluetooth disabled

Note

If the Enable option is not available in the pop-up menu, and instead you see the Disable option, it means Bluetooth is already enabled and turned on.

Device Manager with Bluetooth enabled

If you want to disable Bluetooth, in step 3 above, select the Disable option in the pop-up menu.

Cannot turn on Bluetooth

If the Bluetooth adapter is disabled in the Device Manager and the Enable option shown above does not work, try the following options.

Install latest drivers for the Bluetooth adapter

  1. Visit the laptop or Bluetooth adapter manufacturer website for the latest drivers for the Bluetooth adapter in the computer.
  2. Download and install the latest drivers.
  3. Restart the computer.
  4. Try to enable the Bluetooth adapter in the Device Manager.

Uninstall Bluetooth adapter

  1. In the Device Manager, right-click on the Bluetooth adapter and select Uninstall.
  2. Restart the computer.
  3. If the Bluetooth adapter is detected by the computer, it should automatically be re-installed.
  4. Check in the Device Manager to verify the Bluetooth adapter was re-installed.
  5. Try to enable the Bluetooth adapter, if it is not already enabled.

Remove Bluetooth adapter and re-install

If the Bluetooth adapter in the computer can be removed (not an integrated adapter), try the steps below.

  1. In the Device Manager, right-click on the Bluetooth adapter and select Uninstall.
  2. Turn off the computer.
  3. Open the computer case and remove the Bluetooth adapter card from the computer.
  4. Turn on the computer.
  5. Verify in the Device Manager the Bluetooth adapter is not listed.
  6. Turn off the computer again.
  7. Re-install the Bluetooth adapter card in the computer.
  8. Turn on the computer.
  9. If the Bluetooth adapter is detected by the computer, it should automatically be re-installed.
  10. Check in the Device Manager to verify the Bluetooth adapter was re-installed.
  11. Try to enable the Bluetooth adapter, if it is not already enabled.

If the options above do not work, see below for the possible causes of the problem and how to resolve it.

  • There are some corrupted system files on the computer, preventing the Bluetooth adapter from being enabled and working properly. If Bluetooth worked previously, you could activate a Windows restore point for a date before Bluetooth stopped working.
  • The Bluetooth adapter is defective. If the Bluetooth adapter is removable, replace the existing adapter with a new adapter. If the Bluetooth adapter is integrated into the computer, you can disable the adapter in the BIOS, then purchase and install a new Bluetooth adapter.

Additional information