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How to Fix Bluetooth Pairing Problems

by on July 01, 2021
in Phones and Mobile, Computers and Software, Phone Accessories, Tips & How-Tos :: 768 comments

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Bluetooth is a popular method of wirelessly transferring data between two devices such as your phone and your headphones, your media player and a speaker, or your iPad and a keyboard. It’s one of the most widely used wireless technology in the world, according to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. More than 4.6 billion Bluetooth products are expected to ship this year alone, and that number will likely increase to more than 6 billion per year by 2024.

Bluetooth is all great when it works. But if you’re someone who likes to play around with these kinds of connected gadgets, you know it can be frustrating when there’s a hang-up pairing the two. Here are some common causes of pairing problems as well as advice on what you can do about them.

Why Bluetooth pairings fail

Bluetooth logo - white logo on blue backgroundBluetooth depends on both hardware and software to work properly. So if your devices can't speak a common Bluetooth language, they won’t be able to connect.

In general, Bluetooth is backward compatible: Bluetooth devices supporting the Bluetooth 5 standard should still be able to pair with devices using, say, the ancient Bluetooth 2.1, launched back in 2007.

The exceptions are gadgets that use a low-energy version called Bluetooth Smart, which works on a different protocol than older, or "Classic" Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth Smart devices are not backward compatible and won't recognize (or pair with) older devices that support Classic Bluetooth. 

However, if a device supports Bluetooth 4.0 (in some cases), 4.2 (in most cases) or 5.0 and higher (in most cases), it should recognize both Bluetooth Smart and Classic. Bluetooth 4.0 devices will be officially labeled Bluetooth Smart Ready. In the case of Bluetooth 4.2 and 5 and higher, it's expected.

Gadgets that commonly use Bluetooth Smart include personal health gadgets such as fitness bands or heart-rate monitors. These gadgets will only pair with a smartphone or tablet that also uses Bluetooth Smart – or are Bluetooth Smart Ready.

Most smartphones are Bluetooth Smart compatible. That includes iPhones running iOS 7 and newer and Android phones running 4.3 or newer. Ensure your phone is running the latest version of its operating system – but if your device isn't new enough to run relatively current software, you may not be able to pair it with that fitness band.

Devices also come with specific Bluetooth profiles. If Bluetooth is the common language connecting devices, you can think of a profile as a dialect associated with a certain use. For example, you probably aren't going to be able to connect a mouse and a camera because a camera doesn’t support the Human Interface Device Profile. But if both a mobile phone and a wireless headset support the Hands-Free Profile, you should be able to pair them.

However, if the pairing failure is a matter of user error, there are steps you can take to get your devices happily communicating with each other.

What you can do about Bluetooth pairing failures

Phone screen showing it searching for Bluetooth devices to connect to

1. Make sure Bluetooth is turned on

You should see the little Bluetooth symbol at the top right of the screen if you have an Android device. For iOS and iPadOS, you'll need to go into the settings to enable and disable Bluetooth. Windows users will find Bluetooth in Settings > Devices > Bluetooth (or you may have a shortcut on your taskbar). Mac users will find a Bluetooth status icon on the menu bar.

2. Determine which pairing process your device employs

The process for pairing devices can vary. Sometimes, for example, it involves tapping a code into your phone or computer. Other times, you can just physically touch your phone to the device you want to pair it with (you'll see this option with phones and devices that have NFC, or Near Field Communications, as a feature. It's commonly found on Android phones). 

If you’re not sure how to pair a device, refer to its user guide; you can usually find one by searching online.

3. Turn on discoverable mode

Let’s say you want to pair your phone with your car’s infotainment system so you can enjoy hands-free calling, texting and navigation. First, go into your phone’s settings and tap on Bluetooth; doing so makes the phone visible to the car. Then depress the buttons on your car's infotainment system, usually on the steering wheel or center stack, to get it looking for the device.

Once it finds your phone, the car may ask for a numeric code that you'll need to confirm or input on your phone. After you do so, the devices should be paired. Keep in mind your phone or your car may only stay in discoverable mode for a few minutes; if you take too long, you’ll need to start over.

If your device is new, it will often be in pairing mode when you first turn it on. A good indicator that a device is in pair mode is if it blinks. If the device has been paired with another device, you'll need to turn on pairing mode. 

4. Make sure the two devices are in close enough proximity to one another 

While you wouldn’t think someone might try to pair an iPad with a keyboard if the two weren’t sitting right next to each other, it’s probably worth noting that you should make sure any devices you're trying to pair are within five feet of one other.

5. Power the devices off and back on

A soft reset sometimes can resolve an issue. With phones, an easy way to do this is by going into and out of airplane mode.

6. Remove old Bluetooth connections 

If you're having trouble pairing your phone with the speaker, it could be because the speaker is trying to connect with another phone, laptop or tablet. Some older speakers and headphones are very simple; they just try to connect with the last thing they paired with. If your headphones or speaker were previously paired with another phone, laptop or tablet, turn off that other device or Bluetooth. And if you are no longer planning on using your headphones or speaker with that device, unpair it to prevent future issues. In iOS settings, you can remove a device by tapping on its name and then Forget this Device. In Android settings, tap on a device’s name, then Unpair. After removing a device, start at step 1 on this list.

Some speakers and headphones can store pairing for multiple devices. However, there is a limit to the number of devices' pairing information that they can store. If you're having trouble pairing headphones or a speaker that have been paired to many devices in the past, you may need to reset your headphones or speakers to clear out all of the pairings so you can start fresh. Search "reset" and your device name for instructions from the manufacturer on your specific model.

7. Charge up both devices you're trying to pair

Some devices have smart power management that may turn off Bluetooth if the battery level is too low. If your phone or tablet isn't pairing, make sure it and the device you're trying to pair with have enough juice.

8. Delete a device from a phone and rediscover it

If your phone sees a device but isn’t receiving data from it, sometimes it helps to start from scratch. In iOS settings, you can remove a device by tapping on its name and then Forget this Device. In Android settings, tap on a device’s name, then Unpair. 

If you're deleting the device from your car, you may need to turn off your car after deleting the device, open and close the car door, and wait a couple of minutes before trying to pair the device again.

After removing a device, start at step 1 on this list.

9. Move away from the WiFi router

Another potential obstacle to successful pairing is interference from devices that use the same spectrum, such as your WiFi router. WiFi has been designed to cope with this, but it might not be a good idea to have your devices directly on top of the router.

10. Move away from your smart home devices

Some smart home devices use a wireless technology called Zigbee. You find Zigbee in smart home hubs, including Amazon's Echo Show and Echo Plus, as well as a wide range of smart door locks, light bulbs, in-wall switches, open/close sensor, plugs and more. Like WiFi, Zigbee devices use the same spectrum as Bluetooth devices and can interfere with pairing. Move away from your Zigbee devices when attempting to pair. 

11. Move away from a USB 3.0 port

Interference from USB 3.0 is also possible. Newer laptops, for example, often have the higher-speed USB 3.0 port, so if the connection isn't happening, try pairing your Bluetooth gadgets away from the computer.

12. Make sure the devices you want to pair are designed to connect with each other 

Whether it’s a headset, speaker, mouse, keyboard, camera or something else, your device has a specific profile that spells out what it can connect with. If you’re not sure, check the user manual.

13. Download a driver

If you’re having problems pairing something with your PC, you might be lacking the correct driver. The simplest way to figure this out is to do an online search for the name of the device you’re trying to pair along with the word “driver.”

14. Update the hardware’s firmware

Some automotive audio systems have been known to not pair with phones because the Bluetooth drivers in these systems didn’t work with Bluetooth 4.0. If you’re not sure how to get the latest firmware for your hardware, check with the device manufacturer.

15. Limit data shared between devices

Android and Windows devices let you choose the information you share between devices. So, for instance, you can choose to share phone audio, media audio, contacts and text messages with your car. If you don't need to share all of the data, deselecting one or more of the types of information may enable the devices to pair. 

For Android 10 devices, go to Settings > Connected devices and select the device. If there are options to select, they will appear. For Windows, go to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Devices and Printers > right click on the Bluetooth device in question and select Properties. Then select the Services tab to choose which types of information to share.

16. Clear the Bluetooth cache

Sometimes apps will interfere with Bluetooth operation and clearing the cache can solve the problem. For Android phones, go to Settings > System > Advanced> Reset Options > Reset Wi-fi, mobile & Bluetooth. For iOS and iPadOS device, you'll have to unpair all of your devices (go to Setting > Bluetooth, select the info icon and and choose Forget This Device for each device) then restart your phone or tablet.

Not all wireless devices use Bluetooth

Keep in mind that not all wireless devices use Bluetooth. Alternatives include the Wireless Gigabit specification, Wireless HD, ANT+, ZigBee, NFC as well as Wi-Fi Direct. These other technologies typically won’t work with your phone, tablet or PC without some kind of additional hardware.

We hope this guide has helped you with your Bluetooth pairing problems. If you know of any tip we've missed, share in the comments below!

Updated on 7/1/2021

[Image credits: Bluetooth searching for networks and Bluetooth headphones with phone via BigStockPhoto]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.



Discussion loading

Adding contacts onto bluetooth

From Ray on September 13, 2013 :: 10:26 am

Need to know how to download all my contacts onto my vehicle device - Bluetooth.

Reply

At your service

From k on June 18, 2015 :: 12:47 pm

We’ll get right on that

Reply

Funny

From Mike on March 11, 2016 :: 12:31 am

Funniest thing I read all day! smile)

Reply

Now I know

From Procrastinating on October 18, 2016 :: 3:25 pm

why I browse the internet reply posts. PMSL

Ensuring Customer Service

From DFender on June 20, 2017 :: 5:19 am

K, please remember to close the service request with closure code and resolution . We don’t want a repeat of last time..

Reply

I can’t connect

From Potato pal on January 31, 2021 :: 7:02 pm

Hai! When I got on Bluetooth I dose not give me the option to connect to eny device it’s just says loading

Reply

Kenwood car stereo

From Jack on May 28, 2021 :: 9:46 pm

Just bought a new truck today it has a Kenwood deck in it Bluetooth will hook up to phone option but will not play music what am I doing wrong

Reply

New or used? OEM?

From Josh Kirschner on June 01, 2021 :: 6:52 pm

What make and model truck did you buy? Is the Kenwood deck OEM or an aftermarket product?

Useless advice

From I don't know on June 30, 2017 :: 10:11 pm

Instructions for no one

Reply

my own bluetooth dont on

From vincent on January 12, 2020 :: 9:46 am

my own bluetooth dont on even when i try oning it even i have factory set my phone yet he didnt work

Reply

My Bluetooth turning on

From Mohammed Tennison on April 08, 2020 :: 8:48 pm

Even if I try to turn on my Bluetooth,it will not turn on

Kind of strange one time

From SirDiamond Williams on July 14, 2021 :: 10:35 pm

Kind of strange one time I’ll be having my Bluetooth working fine throughout the month all of a sudden today every time I try to pair it won’t let me fear what am I doing or not doing why I can’t get this to work what am I doing or not doing why when I ask for your assistance to just turn it on it doesn’t work need help please

My Bluetooth

From SirDiamond Williams on July 14, 2021 :: 10:36 pm

My Bluetooth connection why can’t I have the company of someone I can just say please connect my Bluetooth I’m having a problem why can’t they connect it Samsung Tab e will help me but now they don’t seem to answer back so what am I doing or not doing why I can’t get that help

Go to Bluetooth setup &

From Pitney Bowes finucane on July 18, 2017 :: 3:42 pm

Go to Bluetooth setup & add a new device; make sure the phone shows car multimedia (might be different for the other vehicles) make sure the passcode on the phone & the stereo blues is the same & your phone would ask for something as to messages; but your phone should be paired as to contacts & music;if you’re already paired go back to Bluetooth setup but go to paired list & if your phone is on it make sure your phone is connected to the Bluetooth.

Reply

THANK YOU!!!!

From Simon on June 10, 2018 :: 4:46 pm

I bought wireless Sony headphones about two weeks ago and have been frustrated that they just wouldn’t pair with my MacBook Pro.  Searched the internet to find a solution.  Nothing.  Until I found this site.  Tip # 10, moving it away from the USB port did the trick!!!!  Thank you so much for this!!!

Reply

Do it work when i downloading something?

From AJ on September 19, 2018 :: 2:43 pm

I download ing something and it not working its was work 5hours ago in the same place

Reply

30joseph.ha@student.sfsd.us

From joe on February 25, 2021 :: 12:43 pm

wow

Chauhan

From Mithlesh kumar on May 26, 2021 :: 7:06 am

Ii

Reply

Other Bluetooth Devices

From Lynda Wolfertz on September 13, 2013 :: 10:46 am

I have an HP wireless printer/scanner/fax that stopped working.  The troubleshooter says that the wireless radio is not working.  The printer works just fine when it is plugged into my computer via USB cord. Is it possible that is became unpaired with my computer??  How do I check? Any other suggestions?? It seems so wasteful to have to replace an otherwise perfect printer…it’s only 3 years old!!

Reply

Could be a number of things

From Suzanne Kantra on September 16, 2013 :: 9:59 am

That sounds like a WiFi issue, rather than Bluetooth, and I would really need to know more about why it’s not working. Can you not turn on the printer’s WiFi? Does it turn but not see your WiFi network? Does it connect to your WiFi network but your computer can’t see it?

If it is similar to my HP printer, there is a “Wireless Setup Wizard” in the Network setup menu that may help you get reconnected if it’s only an issue with your network settings.

Reply

Thanks

From carmenza Anton on February 07, 2014 :: 5:29 am

Thank you so much I just bought a iPhone and the people in the store tried for a long time to pair it with my BlueAntST3 that I adored They couldn’t I followed your instructions and I did it I was ready to retune the phone. A prayer helps as well
Thank you so much.!!

Reply

Thanks

From Jim the Card on November 14, 2014 :: 3:28 am

Had trouble getting my replacement iPhone5s (camera packed up!) to re-connect with my Avantalk handsfree. Your tip to ‘forget device’ and then re-find it worked!
A great help, thank you!

A prayer helps?

From Tamaresque on February 24, 2017 :: 8:28 pm

You think a god would care about bluetoothing a phone?  Wow!  Your god sounds more like a servant.

HP Wireless Printer

From chrisG on June 21, 2014 :: 12:47 am

Your computer is not on Wi-Fi. I have 2 different printers so here’s some ideas:
1st: Make sure your printer is “ready” or “online”. If not, keep reading… lol
2nd: Do another set-up for Wi-Fi, enter your password right off the printer screen (if it has one, my all-in-one does) & you’ll need to enter your router’s password. You should be good after that. If not, keep reading….
3rd: Does your printer have a Push Set-Up (small hole-like a reset button-to use with a pen or paper clip end to push-printer may need to be near your router during this time).
4th: Do you have a PIN Set-Up where the PIN# is on a label/sticker on your printer (check back or bottom) or the manual it came with.
5th: Go to HP’s website for a “manual” to download and use the instructions. This manual should be a PDF..SAVE IT! For future reference.

If NONE of those work, restart your router (and modem, if you have one). Unplug it, EVERYTHING-Just like you are setting up your router for the FIRST time. Once you’ve done that then follow the steps above.

My Brother Laser Printer is awesome & you have LIFETIME support. They emailed me the instructions to connect to my Wi-Fi, with & w/o USB port; I can disconnect from USB port once it’s connected to my router. He likes to disconnect from my Wi-Fi (router) if he’s unplugged for too long (moving, etc), if I changed my router password, using a different/new router, or if he’s wanting to be stubborn. He (printer) has done this 5 times out of the TEN or ELEVEN years (one time b/c he was stubborn, valid reasons for the others-examples I mentioned above). It isn’t that bad considering I have the instructions plus the LIFETIME support. Yes, I’m a Brother fan for that reason alone…. I don’t have the all-in-one b/c I was in a hurry and didn’t have a big selection.

My Cannon All-in-One Printer is awesome and quicker to connect because I can do a Set-Up on the printer’s screen where I enter the router’s password.  Otherwise, I have to use #3 & #4 to connect. Never had to, though.

I hope I didn’t ramble too much and made sense on the suggestions….

Reply

Blutooth problem

From Bernard Robinson on September 03, 2019 :: 7:26 pm

Remote speaker connected to laptop. All works but each time I switch on the unit is paired but does not connect I have to remove the device from laptop
bluetooth list and then look for it again. It pairs and connects.
Please Help
Bernie Robinson
PichidanguWay down south in Chile

Reply

Trying to understand issue

From Josh Kirschner on September 04, 2019 :: 1:52 pm

Not sure I fully understand what you are describing, but it sounds like the speaker is paired but no sound comes out unless you disconnect and re-pair to the laptop? If so, the first thing I would do is open your sound setting on your laptop to see what your “output device” is. If it is using your laptop speakers, can you change it to the Bluetooth speaker after it is paired?

Beyond that, not sure what advice to offer.

Lynda Wolfertz

From Blatantone on January 31, 2017 :: 5:20 pm

If you haven’t already done it, try uninstalling and reinstalling the printer.

Reply

Lynda is awesome

From I love lynda on June 14, 2019 :: 9:13 pm

Thank you lynda

Reply

bluetooth

From gaurav singh on December 07, 2013 :: 12:06 am

i have normal phone in which i can.t take files from others phone using bluetooth but i can send files

Reply

bluetooth

From linda on September 04, 2015 :: 1:36 am

and won’t let me get on to my speaker

Reply

Bluetooth

From Damien on November 04, 2020 :: 6:05 am

I want to fix my Bluetooth

Reply

pairing problem with trellie

From Kenny Hynes on December 25, 2013 :: 10:21 am

I followed instructions correctlyfrom the manual and video instructions and still doesnt pair with my samsung galazy 3

Reply

my Samsung would not pair

From ron harvey on October 10, 2014 :: 10:49 am

my Samsung would not pair with my jaguar told these cars will not accept samsung

Reply

bluetooth pairing not show up

From mohammed n on August 05, 2016 :: 10:04 pm

HI,sir,i am so sorry .i do not set up my bluetooth always loading

Reply

"Forget this device" stuck

From Phyllis Polston on June 27, 2017 :: 4:13 am

The device removed keeps trying to connect another words circle goes round & round but activity tracker is gone-sent back. Can Bluetooth be reset?  iPhone has been turned off & on.  Can’t use the Bluetooth all day to get messages because it runs the battery down. New wristband is set up & works ok under same app HBand. Help.

Reply

Bluetooth Pairing Problem

From Md Abu Mottakinm Mondal on October 21, 2017 :: 5:25 pm

My bluetooth Headphone can’t pairing…...

Reply

Bluetooth pairing not an option

From Potato pal on January 31, 2021 :: 7:04 pm

Idk y it will not let me pair

Reply

bluetooth

From Danni Tate on January 01, 2014 :: 6:05 am

I have recently bought a bluetooth hifi system. At the same timeI purchased a bluetooth dongle. I go through the set up and all works well. The next time I use Iit I have to go through the whole process of forgetting the device and reconfiguring it again to use it. What am I doing wrong

Reply

Pairing iPhone5s with Pioneer Car Stereo

From Carla Akkari on January 07, 2014 :: 5:12 pm

I’ve recently purchase a Pioneer Car Stereo DEH-X4650BT and I was able to pair the Bluetooth with my iPhone4 easily and use the handsfree but am unable to pair it using my iPhone 5s. Any suggestions? Have tried doing it with and without the USB cable. The phone recognises the stereo but it is unable to pair.

Reply

bluetooth

From Bubba Boyd on January 31, 2014 :: 6:32 pm

I recently got a brand new next book tablet and it doesn’t show that it has Bluetooth on it anywhere what do I do to get it

Reply

Not easy

From Josh Kirschner on January 31, 2014 :: 6:55 pm

If your tablet doesn’t come with built-in Bluetooth (and it looks like most, if not all, of the Nextbook tablets do not), there’s no way to add it. Someone may have an external bluetooth USB adapter for Android (does your tablet have a USB port?), but I’m having trouble finding one. If you do find one, buy it from someplece you can return it, because I’m guessing there’s a good chance it won’t work consistently or at all.

Reply

My blurtooth in my Nissan

From Leonard Mostello on March 26, 2016 :: 12:56 pm

My blurtooth in my Nissan Altima, 2015, was working for the last yr. & all of a sudden it quit working.  I went to use it the other day & it came on saying searching for phone; it came back on saying “no search found”; HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reply

Help on Bluetooth in Nissan

From Danielle on July 07, 2016 :: 11:50 am

Were you able to get help?  After 4 yrs of working perfectly and 1 yr with my current phone, it suddenly doesn’t recognize any phone.

Reply

Ecko unltd blast

From Avion on November 26, 2016 :: 4:15 am

At want come on my phone.

Bluetooth Conversion Options Available

From SM Griffith on July 02, 2016 :: 4:26 pm

Hi Bubba,

Bluetooth adapters are available for 3.5mm headset audio ports on mobile devices. I got one for my husband’s old iPod nano which was not bluetooth enabled so that he could workout using bluetooth headsets rather than have all the hanging cords.

They have come way down in price and there may be even more options available now. They simply plug into the headphone jack and voila, connect your bluetooth speaker/headset and go.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

SM

Reply

klipsch kmc3 not connetcing

From yhurmmy on February 03, 2014 :: 4:25 am

had klipsch kmc3 speaker and it has been working perfect,but all of a sudden the bluetooth stop working ,cant pair with it any longer .

Reply

Connecting Samsung Dual Sim to Car Stereo

From Henrique on February 07, 2014 :: 2:51 pm

I have a Dual Sim fone Samsumg GT-C 3752, that I pair ro my car’s stereo Medianav.
Most of the times I’m able to pair them, but the connection will sometime break, might take a few or several minutes.
Why is this happening?
With my girfriend’s Nokia phone connection with Medianav never breaks… So I then know that it’s everything OK with the car’s stereo.

Reply

problem after pair

From shalem simon on February 14, 2014 :: 12:22 pm

I have Samsung gt-i8552 & Sony xperia
C2305 bt, both pairing each other, I can send file sony to Samsung and receive but i m no abel to send Samsung to Sony…

Reply

paired bt not connected

From Moses on November 25, 2014 :: 1:59 pm

Hae
I av a similar problem my phone Huawei Y-210 pairs BT does not connect which means i cannot receive or send files.

Reply

BT

From Quinton on December 27, 2017 :: 4:49 pm

Try to delete all the peir on ya device,,if not then you can go in play media and stall a new BT,the software either hardware of your Bluetooth its too wik.

Reply

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