by Barry Dysert
(last updated May 15, 2017)
There are a couple of preliminary steps to connecting a Bluetooth device to your computer. The first thing to do is to plug in the Bluetooth adapter to a USB port if your computer isn't already equipped with an adapter (many laptops have Bluetooth capability built in, but most desktop systems do not). Whatever the case, ensure that your Bluetooth adapter is turned on.
The next thing to do is to set up your peripheral (e.g., the Bluetooth headset, keyboard, mouse, printer, or whatever) so that it can be discovered by your computer. Devices differ, but typically you'll find an on/off switch, which you'll want to make sure is on, and the device may also have some way to indicate that it's in discovery mode (sometimes called pairing mode). You want to ensure your device is in discovery mode. When in this mode, the device is broadcasting a radio signal that allows it to be detected by your Bluetooth adapter.
Now that you have your adapter plugged in and turned on and you have your peripheral device turned on and in discovery mode, you can use Windows to add the device. To do this, go to Start | Devices and Printers. (In Windows 10 you can type "Devices & Printers" into the Cortana search box.) (See Figure 1.)
Figure 1. Adding a Bluetooth device.
Click on Add a Device, at the upper-left of the screen. This starts a wizard that looks for new devices, which your Bluetooth peripheral is. (Be sure it's within range of the adapter.) Click on the found device and click the Next button. At this point, Windows usually adds your peripheral to its list of known devices and you can begin using it.
There may be times when adding the peripheral is not totally automatic, and that is when the adapter and peripheral require a PIN or passcode (i.e., a pairing code) to be entered before the connection is established. The only way to determine if this is the case is to read the documentation that comes with your Bluetooth adapter and/or peripheral.
This tip (13056) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.
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