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How to Fix Bluetooth Pairing Problems

by on December 23, 2017
in Phones and Mobile, Computers and Software, Phone Accessories, Tips & How-Tos :: 426 comments

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 3 billion Bluetooth products that were expected to ship last year alone, and that number will likely almost double within the next three years.

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, announced last year, 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 pairing failures

1.  Make sure Bluetooth is turned on. You should see the little Bluetooth symbol at the top of your phone’s screen. If you don’t, go into the settings to enable it.

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. Other times, you can just physically touch your phone to the device you want to pair it with. Or in the case of the Bose SoundLink, you only have to hold down a button on the speaker to pair it with a phone.

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 you 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.

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. Power down likely interferers. Say that faithful Bluetooth speaker usually connects to your partner's smartphone instead of yours. If you're having trouble pairing your phone with the speaker, it could be because the speaker is trying to activate its usual connection. Some older devices are very simple. They just try to connect with the last thing they paired with. If a Bluetooth device was previously paired with something else, turn off that other gadget.

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

9. Get away from the Wi-Fi 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,” Powell says.

10. Move away from a USB 3.0 port. “Interference from USB 3.0 is also possible,” Powell says. 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 devices, go to Settings > Bluetooth 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 and right click on the Bluetooth device in question. Then select the Services tab to choose which types of information to share.

15. Clear the Blutooth cache (Android only). Sometimes apps will interfere with Bluetooth operation and clearing the cache can solve the problem. Go Settings > Backup and restart > Reset network settings. 

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 12/23/2017

[Image credits: Bluetooth searching for networks vis BigStockPhoto, Bluetooth devices with phone via Shutterstock]



Discussion loading

Bluetooth playing media but not calls

From Paul O'l Barrel Bracewell on October 09, 2017 :: 1:01 pm

Hi i have a bluetooth adapter for my car stereo which connects fine and plays everything except when i make a phone call , can gou help with this

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Thank you

From Sonja Velic on October 27, 2017 :: 9:50 am

It worked with holding the button,

So much better to take initiative and fix it myself instead of waiting for my husband to sort it out.

Your solution empowered me.

Thank you <3

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Blue tooth isn't recognizing the I spoke my name

From Rachel Trollinger on November 03, 2017 :: 10:39 pm

I pushed and held the button down and said Bluetooth then I said pair then it told me to put the numbers in I did being at said the name associated for the name tag so I did then nothing else would happen to confirm that I spoke my name as the name tag why

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Bluetooth Pair Issues - Phone with Car Stereo

From Upendra Prusty on November 09, 2017 :: 9:42 am

Hi Team,

I read this article, really helpful for Bluetooth users. My case - my new RED MI 4 phone is paired with my car stereo Ford Figo inbuilt stereo, but it disconnects frequently and I can’t take calls now. If I clear Bluetooth cache, then it works for a couple of hours, again same issue.

Looking for help.

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Have you tried wiping the

From Suzanne Kantra on December 22, 2017 :: 4:25 pm

Have you tried wiping the cache partition? To do that, simultaneously press the power and volume up key until you see the logo come up, then let go. Use the volume keys to navigate to Wipe & Reset (use the power button to select), then select Wipe cache. Once the cache is wiped, you can choose to restart your phone.

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won't connect

From Kim on November 12, 2017 :: 10:37 am

I bought a oppo F1S 3 months ago
And for some rereason the Wi-Fi connection and Bluetooth connections stopped working I have tried everything to fix the problem but I can’t
I took the phone back to optus they said that they will have to send it away to get looked at and it would take 3 to 4 weeks I explained that I need a phone I have work children in high school and I work so I need to keep contact with them
The fella then told me to purchase a new phone while I am waiting for my phone to be fixed or to get a new one

I don’t understand why he would think that I would Buy a new phone when I only got that one 3/4 months ago and what was I supposed to do with it after I got mine back
All I want to know is how to fix it

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BT Connectivity issue with Honor 8 Pro

From SDon on November 15, 2017 :: 3:40 am

Hi
For some reason I am unable to connect my Garmin Sports watches with the Honor 8 Pro. The BT pairing code keeps refreshing every second and hence I am unable to key it in before it refreshes again. Finally I get the Connection Timed Out Error. This happens only with the 8 Pro. All other phones I have tried have no issues at all.

Am really frustrated now! Any help in resolving this is highly appreciated.

Here’s a detailed video of the issue as well -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9S4PMhapNo

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Garmin connectivity with Honor8 Pro

From Pankaj Rathi on December 15, 2017 :: 1:59 am

I am facing exactly the same issue. I have tried increasing visibility on the phone but nothing helped.

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Blue tooth not turning on

From Baig on December 01, 2017 :: 11:22 am

I am having a problem with my tablet’s Bluetooth. It never turns on

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Clear Data

From Dan Kelly on December 05, 2017 :: 1:27 pm

There’s one you missed…

Clear Bluetooth App Data

That is the only thing that seems to work for me.

But, it’s early to tell if my issue is totally fixed.

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scrap bluetooth as a bad idea

From UreKismet on December 10, 2017 :: 7:09 pm

Now that every portable consumable comes bluetooth enabled or compulsory; after this holiday season I expect every human on the planet to take a set against this badly conceived poorly implemented tech.
The only question is will it go the same way as 3d screen and where VR is inevitably headed, or will it because it is inexpensive to implement, merely be relegated to the small print on the tin?
Obviously as anyone who has spent too much time trying to pair two bluetooth devices when neither have the benefit of a gui but each has an accursed ‘multi-function button’ instead, bluetooth has shifted from being a must have selling point to a tech to be avoided.
Under normal circs product engineers would toss bluetooth on the scrapheap where it belongs but it is cheaper and easier to package than 3.5mm cables and the like - & enables at least $50 to be chucked on to recommended retail because device is ‘wireless’ but like most I have found the recharging demands of any bluetooth device to be far from wireless.  A big thankyou also needs be given to those drongos who design their equipment to switch off during recharging (hiya Sennheiser)so that a user has to tolerate considerable downtime with their device.
Bluetooth - whose silly idea was that again?

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Bluetooth pairing request

From Jan on December 18, 2017 :: 8:41 pm

I have successfully paired my Samsung 6 with the Uniden home phone system. But every time I leave range of the home phone and then return to the house with my mobile phone, it asks me to reset the pin.  Every few seconds until I pair up again by physically asking the Uniden phone to find my mobile phone at the same time as entering the pin.  Driving me mad.  I’ve unpaired both but and then re-paired but makes no difference.  When I first set up the phone a month ago it worked well.  No more…Ideas?

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Try clearing Bluetooth cache

From Suzanne Kantra on December 22, 2017 :: 4:16 pm

You can try clearing the Bluetooth cache. To do that, go to Settings > Application Manager and then select Bluetooth. Select Clear cache and then Clear data. Restart your phone when the operation is complete. Hope this helps.

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Clearing Bluetooth cache

From Janine on December 27, 2017 :: 2:32 pm

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for your tip.  My phone does not seem to allow me to clear cache in the apps manager.  Any other suggestions? 

Many thanks,

Janine

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Apie wireless earbuds / LG Leon phone

From Jay on January 03, 2018 :: 9:52 pm

The earbuds arn’t even showing up on my phone as an option to connect through bluetooth. This is strange for 2 reasons. One being that it has connected fluently to my phone several times without any problems. And the other reason is that I am able to connect to my PC with windows 10 on it (but not my phone). I just got these this Christmas. the slightest help is much appreciated.

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İtem 8 solved mt bt problem. Thanks

From Peter on January 07, 2018 :: 9:53 am

İten 8 solvedd myy bluetooth issue. Tanks a lott.

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headphones wont connect

From ava rose goodwalt on January 07, 2018 :: 11:59 pm

i got my vivitar headphones 2 weeks ago and they were working fine untill they stopped pairing to my chrome book. Help!

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Sx 991 Bluetooth

From Adam Rogers on January 15, 2018 :: 4:17 pm

Bluetooth pairs but the mic does not work to receive phone calls or use Google assist.

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Bluetooth connected but with error "NO PHONE"

From Karthikeyan on January 16, 2018 :: 5:20 am

Hey!  Thanks for the article I was looking for a problem that I faced in Jabra Talk on Lenovo K3 Note. Though the headset was paired and in use, sometimes it get connected with message “NO PHONE” and stops working. i.e. the Phone shows blue tooth headset in connected mode but not able to speak/listen to calls in the headset. The problem got solved by unpairing the headset and restarting the phone and pairing it again. Hope it is helpful to others who face similar problem. Thanks..

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Bluetooth key board and galaxy tab A

From Blair on January 17, 2018 :: 6:27 pm

I was using it yesterday and now when I go to use it it says it’s “Unable to connect to Bluetooth input device while being used as a Bluetooth input device” what does that mean? I’ve went into settings turned each of them off, and its not working. I’m very confused

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Sounds like your Tab A

From Suzanne Kantra on January 17, 2018 :: 6:54 pm

Sounds like your Tab A thinks the keyboard is being used by another device. Did you only pair the keyboard with the tablet? And what else is your tablet paired with that would be nearby?

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can't unpair from broken device

From amanda whybrow on January 18, 2018 :: 2:47 pm

My smartphone screen is broken & so I can’t use settings. How can I unpair my SoundPeats Q7 earphones in order to pair to new phone? They don’t want to pair to a 2nd device. Thanks

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Bluetooth headset

From Sridhar on January 24, 2018 :: 11:17 pm

The Bluetooth headset is not connected in my mobile.
Bluetooth headset name not showing in display
How to connecting the Bluetooth headset

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Trouble connecting android to bluetooth speaker

From LaTasha on January 26, 2018 :: 1:35 pm

I had trouble connecting my smartphone to my polaroid bluetooth speaker, but after reading your article and applying the methods you explained I was able to connect thank you for this article.

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Glad it helped!

From Josh Kirschner on January 26, 2018 :: 2:11 pm

Always happy to hear when we’re able to help people out. Thank you for letting us know.

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BT and windows 10 phones.

From Michael Nutting on January 30, 2018 :: 3:18 pm

I read with interest the number of articles about issues with win 10 phones and BT connections failing or not re connecting on subsequent connections with the same device.

It can be seen that some smart phones like Samsung S8, S8+ and I phones re connect to the paired devices automatically once in range however with windows this is not the case especially found with win 10 phones and connection via BT and a car, here it is required to always connect the phone with the car to do this on the win 10 phone when in the car open BT settings on the phone and select the paired device needing connection hit connect and away you go it works all the time, just remember always go to BT settings on the win 10 phone and hit connect.

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Which device

From Kirstie on February 02, 2018 :: 1:54 pm

I have Bluetooth headphones which I think are connected to another device, I want to connect them to my iPod touch and although when I listen to them they say connected it isn’t to my iPod, how can I clear the memory of devices on my headphones ( they are standard vol up and vol down button and main button in middleJ

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Solved my issue

From Andrew Ravenwood on February 03, 2018 :: 8:15 am

Thanks for number 6. I had a phone blocking the connection.
Was driving me bonkers. Thanks

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Won't connect

From Tammy on February 06, 2018 :: 3:00 pm

If all else fails…ALL ..u have to do is keep trying it in your spare time..it may take a few days ..meaning 1-2 or up to 4 days…just keep trying it..it will eventually connect..

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Bluetooth

From Ratul on February 08, 2018 :: 12:33 pm

Bluetooth I cannot Find my bluetooth headset device…..do you have any answer

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pairing

From Lyn on February 08, 2018 :: 5:45 pm

I keep deleting a phone from my car radio. The phone that keeps adding itself is not a phone I own. How is that even possible.

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Thanks for the help I

From Austin on February 14, 2018 :: 8:25 am

Thanks for the help I really needed the help

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bluetooth audio connection problem

From Shay on February 14, 2018 :: 8:41 am

All of a sudden the bluetooth audio in my car won’t connect to my phone. They only pair with call audio but will not connect with media audio. Please help?

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miniso mini speaker vs lenovo ideapad100s win10

From e3 on February 23, 2018 :: 2:50 pm

Hi & thanks for your post,

Went through your tips but unsuccessful yet trying to pair my Miniso Minispeaker with my Win10 Lenovo Ideapad 100s. On first attempt, the BT detected the speaker name but failed showing a Try connecting again yellow caption. Tried again million times. Now BT doesn’t even find the device. They’re both charged. Speakers work on every other device I connect them to.

THanks again!

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Still doesn't work

From Psswrd Confusion1? on February 27, 2018 :: 12:57 pm

Hi
My. bluetooth worked just fine in my car for 3 plus years with my IPhone 6. Last week
I Had a new battery put in my car and it hasn’t worked since. Any suggestions?
Thanks

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Did you try deleting your phone from the car?

From Josh Kirschner on February 27, 2018 :: 3:10 pm

Did you try deleting your phone from the car and re-pairing it? Also, deleting the car from your phone before re-pairing?

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Earpiece not pairing with GS7

From Kendall Maine on March 01, 2018 :: 9:35 pm

I have a GS7 and a brand new Plantronics PLT. I have had the earpiece for a couple days and it worked fine. I had to do a hard reset on the phone and now the earpiece won’t pair. I have tried all the normal advice. i.e., wiping the cache, powering off the devices then powering them back on, even another factory reset. Nothing is working. Is there anything else I can do?

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Bluetooth speaker

From Nithish on March 18, 2018 :: 12:45 pm

I have a srs btv 5 Sony Bluetooth speaker. It’s pairing but no sound.

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Bluetooth speaker

From Nithish on March 18, 2018 :: 12:49 pm

I hv A Sony srv bts 5 bluetooth speaker

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Device not showing up

From Birb on March 24, 2018 :: 9:57 am

So I have had wireless headphones for about 3 months now and they connected just fine to my phone. Today however when I turned on bluetooth on my phone and turned on the headphones the headphones didn’t even show up on my phone so I could not connect them.
Anyone know what could be the issue and how I could fix it?

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Did you follow steps above?

From Josh Kirschner on March 26, 2018 :: 9:58 am

Try the steps above and let us know if they worked.

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1sheeld and bluetooth

From Jennifer Flynn on March 25, 2018 :: 8:25 pm

I am doing a group project with 1sheeld+ android studio and arudino. I am having terrible issues connecting 1sheeld+ to my phone app. If I turn on bluetooth before I run the app it asks for a pin, which should be either 0000 or 1234. It does not accept either. It asks if 1sheeld is ready for pairing. Does anyone know anything about this? I am searching everywhere online for info on this. please advise if someone knows.

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Pairing

From Eddie on March 31, 2018 :: 1:42 am

How do I pair a Samsung tab A(2016) with an iPhone X, having problems pairing them.

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It fixed it

From Prosperken on April 01, 2018 :: 4:40 pm

Thanks, this fixed it. I also installed an android app to facilitate it

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My phone cannot find my headphones

From Kaitlyn on April 02, 2018 :: 6:43 pm

I recently got a new phone and I’m trying to pair my wireless headphones to it and my phone cannot find my headphones. I’ve tried everything I can think of trying to get these things to pair and both are new so I don’t understand the problem. Headphones worked just fine with my old device and I don’t understand why it won’t work.

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thank you!

From jackie on April 13, 2018 :: 11:56 am

beautiful, had the trekz titanium that wasn’t pairing with my iPhone.  did the soft shut down (going to airplane mode then back) and it paired right up.  THANK YOU!

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Thank you for this article!

From Amber Towle on April 19, 2018 :: 5:59 pm

Thank you for this article! It turns out my power saving mode kept disconnecting my bluetooth keyboard.

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thanks

From kobs on April 21, 2018 :: 4:08 pm

I have these skull candy BT buds and all of a sudden they couldn’t be paired. Ipod saw it but that device said it wasn’t on. Told the ipod to forget that JIB device and rediscovered it it works… Thanks wink

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need help

From cj on April 23, 2018 :: 1:50 pm

my computer is a peice of &*&^%^%^&*^%

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Pairing

From DH on April 23, 2018 :: 9:30 pm

My Woodulisten speaker will not pair with my SanDisk Clip Sport MP3 player, but easily pairs with my other Bluetooth devices.  Any suggestions?

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Try

From kobs on April 23, 2018 :: 10:37 pm

Try what I did, remove the speakers from your player (somewhere it must give the name of your speakers in the list of pairing devices in your player) and let it find it again. I had the same problem with my earbuds and it worked.

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