Tech Made Simple

Hot Topics: How to Fix Bluetooth Pairing Problems | Complete Guide to Facebook Privacy | How to Block Spam Calls | Can an iPhone be Hacked?

Use It

author photo

How to Fix Bluetooth Pairing Problems

by on October 29, 2020
in Phones and Mobile, Computers and Software, Phone Accessories, Tips & How-Tos :: 733 comments

Techlicious editors independently review products. To help support our mission, we may earn affiliate commissions from links contained on this page.

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 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. (For example, an old Sony Ericsson phone sporting Bluetooth 3.0 won't be able to connect to a Bluetooth Smart device.)

However, if a device supports Bluetooth 4.0 (in some cases), 4.2 (in most cases) or 5.0 (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, 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, Android phones running 4.3 or newer, Windows Phone 8.1 devices, and all BlackBerry 10 devices. 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. Get away from the WiFi router

Another potential obstacle to successful pairing is interference from devices that use the same spectrum, such as your Wi-Fi router. Wi-Fi 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 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.”

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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 10/29/2020

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



Discussion loading

toyota hulux stereo

From simanga ngema on January 27, 2021 :: 1:32 am

it’s display a phone with a red line on the upper right hand side and the radio is quite.

Reply

It isn’t the pairing it

From Grace on January 28, 2021 :: 4:50 pm

It isn’t the pairing it is the unpairing. Nothing is plugged in and I don’t have AirPods. I disconnected from Bluetooth and turned my phone off and on again. When I am on ft I can’t hear it and same for calls and music. No app that produces sound is working. PLEASEEEE help

Reply

Help

From Ayu Desi Prabawati on January 29, 2021 :: 10:12 am

I cant pairing my sony headphones type wh-ch500 (bluetooth 4.2) with samsung tab s6 lite (bluetooth 5.0). Need some help please!

Reply

DT soundbar wireless sub won’t pair

From Mike c on January 31, 2021 :: 3:10 pm

I have a 5 year old Definitive Tech sound bar that won’t pair with the sub.  Called DT, at their direction performed 5 resets on sub and sound bar, no connection. 
Sound bar works ok, blinks blue lite when put in pairing.  Sub has power and flashing but send failed pairing message after about 3 mins. 
DT says no help as they don’t make this model anymore

Any ideas?

Reply

Bluetooth problem

From Delight on February 06, 2021 :: 12:01 pm

I find it very difficult to pair my itel 56062 with a homeflower home wolfer so it’s very difficult I don’t know how you can help me out
or do you think is better for you to host a zoom meeting so that I can join and you teach me how to do it

Reply

Lost

From Colleen Korostil on February 12, 2021 :: 7:46 pm

As a hopelessly lost individual when it comes to technology,  I have a question about a smart watch and an iPad.Is Bluetooth beneficial for connecting an orit smart watch with the iPad to download functions unto the smart watch ie steps, BP, sleep pattern etc.  Thx for you concern

Reply

Pairing speaker to android phone

From Caroline Rosema on February 24, 2021 :: 10:48 am

Can someone please help me with a pair my speaker to my phone please it’s getting to me now I haven’t a clue what I’m doing

Reply

Do not follow this advice

From Nick Mullinix on March 02, 2021 :: 12:05 am

Yeah, I followed this advice and reset the Bluetooth, wifi, and network settings on my phone.  Now I don’t have a cell phone anymore.  Cannot recover APN settings, even from my cell provider directly remoting in to my phone.  Try knowing something before you post advice.

Reply

What device/carrier do you have?

From Josh Kirschner on March 02, 2021 :: 8:43 pm

The Android network reset is a standard procedure for resolving WiFi and Bluetooth issues recommended by most carriers and device manufacturers and should not have had the impact you’re describing on your network access (I just did this again on one of my devices to double verify - no effect on mobile network at all). This sounds more like a SIM issue than a problem with the phone itself.

What model device do you have and who is your carrier? Can you describe the exact issue you are seeing in more detail, with the current state of your network settings?

Reply

Bluetooth

From carla cooper on March 03, 2021 :: 5:39 am

My system didn’t come with a turntable.Will a bluetooth turntable connect with it

Reply

Probably not

From Josh Kirschner on March 03, 2021 :: 10:30 am

Bluetooth turntables are in tended to stream out to headphones or wireless speakers. If you’re talking about connecting it to a stereo receiver, chances are that receiver isn’t set up to receive Bluetooth inputs. However, you can get a cheap Bluetooth adapter like this one for around $20 that will take the output from your turntable and feed it into the audio aux input on your stereo system: https://amzn.to/3881UIN

Reply

Bluetooth wouldn't connect to New Phone

From Douglas Stevens on March 17, 2021 :: 12:50 am

I needed to say thank you for tis article. I searched for some time but continued to be told how to pair the devices, not much troubleshooting. when I found this article I rejoiced because it clearly walked me through solving my issue. Thank you!

Reply

badicecream!

From soothing on April 02, 2021 :: 2:05 pm

I Really apricate this article. and will follow this in future.

Reply

I have my jbl headphones

From Hiester on April 03, 2021 :: 12:10 am

I have my jbl headphones i listening to them no problem but now they will only play out the right side i know the headphone work fine as i tried them on another phine please as music is all i donall day everyday wapk around house listening walking dog shopping sex u name it u please tell me what to do i have the new Lg velvete too

Reply

1 of my earbuds have isuue

From Anjali on April 12, 2021 :: 5:38 am

1 of my earbuds is not connecting to my phone.  I have tried a lot but still it didn’t worked.  What should I do now?

Reply

Bluetooth won’t alway connect between Fitbit Charge 4 and iPad

From George M Coons on April 18, 2021 :: 7:23 pm

Quite new iPad and quite new Fitbit Charge 4 don’t always pair.  Can you explain as this is not good.

Reply

Can’t pair the iPhone 7 with Philips 4K smart tv

From 5q on April 25, 2021 :: 3:37 am

Hi to everybody. My issue is: my galpal got new generation Philips tv 6400 /50’ and use a Wi Fi router. The tv is connected to the router wireless, it plays YouTube clips from the iPhone 7, but can’t play pics thru Google Photos app. The phone gives me every time a number code and options Cancel & Pair. On the TV screen shows nothing. When I push Pair on the Phone it says “Make sure that local network permissions are turned on for the Google photos app. in Settings.” That icon that is for cast (the same one that is in YouTube up right side). I checked in Settings on the phone, application is given permission. Weird. Both phone and tv are connected under the same router name. Restart of the router was made. Also newest last software TV update 4 days ago. I tried my iPhone (XS) too - the same. The 7 is the phone of my friend. At my home I got also Philips 50’ 4K tv and by me the pics sharing works! Also thu YouTube cast icon ! The iphones are not the problem. Tried also the 6S plus of her Son - the same thing , not sharing the pics, only clips from YouTube. Can’t figure it out where is the problem… The Router is right behind the tv. I tried from 1 m. distance…not far away from TV.  I asked the Philips (the official) itself on YouTube for solution, they still haven’t replied to me. Please, help. I hope anyone knows the problem what it is. Thanx in advance. PP. Excuse my bad English, all learned by myself. Kind regards from sunny Sofia, Bulgaria grin

Reply

Good article but you should make a Windows 10 version

From Jonathan on April 25, 2021 :: 11:38 am

I am looking for a windows 10 version to connect Bluetooth to smart devices (BETA sensors) I am missing the Bluetooth Icon, I have uninstalled - reinstalled drivers / bluetooth app for CSR, checked updates too many times (personally I think that is useless to try) I went into MS store and installed every bluetooth app I thought might connect, I am running an external BT USB, and still win 10 shows it as a donlge and also when troubleshooting states no bluetooth on this device. I am thinking to get a PCI BT card, but if the USB wont recognize then why bother? Running win 10 AMD x470 32GB Ram 1650 Nvidia 8gb Vram..  Intel might be the problem with AMD, but the BT was working before a few months back before I went into all the services / processes. There needs to be a list of what services (by name to run with BT for sensor devices/apps) But your article is the closest I see (very descriptive) just too bad it is not for PC

Reply

You may have corrupted your drivers!

From Darrell on May 01, 2021 :: 6:24 am

Below I have listed My Windows 10 PC specs as for Bluetooth - the links will direct you to a Screenshot of what they look like:(not in any order - note the Title’s in each open box for direction)

https://imgbox.com/bYecK45c
https://imgbox.com/w14UcTWe
https://imgbox.com/7RCMn9JW
https://imgbox.com/9e2q4kuq
https://imgbox.com/q2L4Nu5O
https://imgbox.com/3VGpijRI
https://imgbox.com/vDhplShF

This link below is a web site that may also assist.

https://www.alphr.com/turn-on-bluetooth-windows-10/

Reply

Contacts are not displayed in car

From Mrs. Feliz on April 29, 2021 :: 3:42 pm

I bought an Alcatel Fliphone last year and no mater how much I try and now many tech savvy people I ask…......NO ONE…can help me figure out how to get my contacts to display in the car when I get a call.

My contact displays when I get a call anywhere else but my car. I see a phone number calling but no contact name. I had a very old phone years ago…....and it always displayed my contact name. I never pick up the call when I am in the car because I do not recognize the number. Thankfully I recognize my son and daughter’s numbers - but that is it.

Can you assist me please? It has been a long year and this is not helping any.

Frustrated and not so FELIZ (Happy).

Reply

Can you clarify?

From Josh Kirschner on April 29, 2021 :: 9:43 pm

Are you saying your contacts aren’t displaying on the phone display when it’s in the car, even though contacts do display on the phone when not in the car? Are you connecting to a in-car WiFi hotspot with your phone for WiFi calling?

I’m also wondering if Google Assistant is automatically activating when you’re in the car to support hands-free driving and, when that happens, contacts are switching from your phone contacts to your Google contacts for incoming call caller ID. Do you have your contacts synced to your Google account?

Reply

Another option for Developer to try to connect Bluetooth when all fails because of software installe

From Jonathan on May 03, 2021 :: 6:33 pm

Recently I purchased a (Next-Mind) brain nueron brain mind control censor, and it uses Bluetooth. The device paired just fine, bout would not connect when the software started. I went thru every settings, processors, services, anti virus options, starting apps, and restarted tons of times. Running AMD x40 (was thinking it was a BT issue with CSR, or intel on an AMD board, uninstalled drivers/devices (same problem no connection to device)

I remembered a few years back I had a licensed software that was not compatable it another certain licensed software was installed after an update, and the fix was simple

Create another Windows user account as admin and switch accounts and this worked for me because all off the added developer tools that were installed were associated with my main developer account and not preventing the device from connecting

  Hoper this helps someone that gets stuck trying everything possible just to find out that there might be another app at startup embedding in windows preventing the Bluetooth device from not working

Reply

Anyone can help me about

From 5q on May 04, 2021 :: 6:26 pm

Anyone can help me about the pairing of iPhone 7 with Philips tv 4K ? Wrote a post in a while…

Reply

Bluetooth issue

From Sue zankana on May 04, 2021 :: 9:13 pm

Why the Bluetooth radio keeps turned off once I turn the car light on and back on when I turned the light off?

Reply

Read More Comments: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Home | About | Meet the Team | Contact Us
Media Kit | Newsletter Sponsorships
Accessibility Statement
Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookie Policy

Techlicious participates in affiliate programs, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provide a small commission from some, but not all, of the "click-thru to buy" links contained in our articles. These click-thru links are determined after the article has been written, based on price and product availability — the commissions do not impact our choice of recommended product, nor the price you pay. When you use these links, you help support our ongoing editorial mission to provide you with the best product recommendations.

© Techlicious LLC.