How to get your Mac Bluetooth working?

While Bluetooth issues are rare, they do occur and throw everything up in the air when they do. Suddenly, you can’t use your system in how you’re used to and have to figure out different ways to complete tasks. But don’t panic — there’s usually an easy fix.

Read on as we talk you through some of the most common Bluetooth troubleshooting tips.  

Solve All Bluetooth Issues

Selected apps that allow keeping track of your Bluetooth health on Mac. No more digging through the settings.

Download Setapp Free

Start with the simple stuff

Before we get into the troubleshooting steps, it’s best to start with the basics. And it really doesn't get any more basic than switching things off and on again.

While this seems like a lazily obvious suggestion, many Mac problems can be fixed with a restart.  

Click on the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar and turn Bluetooth off. Once it’s switched off, turn it back on by clicking on Turn Bluetooth On.

If the macOS “Bluetooth Not Available” error hasn’t gone away, try rebooting your Mac. Shut the system down completely and reboot it as usual.

Get a tool for Bluetooth switching

There’s an easier way to toggle Bluetooth on Mac, though. At least two ways, actually. You can have a dedicated app for connecting Bluetooth gadgets, ToothFairy. It allows you to create a custom setup for any number of your Bluetooth devices. 

If there are not really too many Bluetooth devices you use regularly, go with One Switch — a set of dedicated toggles accessible from the menu bar. You can add a device once and use the app for one-click Bluetooth toggling every time.

If that doesn’t work, it’s time to get down to some real troubleshooting. Here are five of the best tips to help you overcome annoying Bluetooth issues.

Five Tips to solve Bluetooth problems

1. Delete downloads

Have you downloaded any new applications or software programs recently? One of them could be corrupting your Bluetooth. It could be malware that’s causing the issue or simply an app that does sit right with Apple’s Bluetooth configuration. Either way, it’s best to remove any recently downloaded files to rule them out, if nothing else.

The easiest way to do this is with CleanMyMac X. It requires nothing more than a few clicks and completely removes every file linked to a download.

Here’s how to use it:

LAOF module of CleanMyMacX

  1. Download CleanMyMac X and launch it.
  2. Click Large & Old Files.
  3. Select the recent downloads you wish to remove.
  4. Click Clean, and the files will be gone in the blink of an eye.

If you’d prefer to delete downloads manually, you can do this in the Finder.

  1. Open the Finder.
  2. Press Cmd+Shift+G.
  3. Type in ~/.
  4. Double-click on the Downloads folder.
  5. Delete any downloaded file that you don’t need.

If you’ve installed an app related to a downloaded file and you’re worried that’s what might be causing issues with your Bluetooth, use CleanMyMac X to remove it completely:

  1. Launch CleanMyMac X.
  2. Click on Uninstaller.
  3. Select the app that you want to remove from the list.
  4. Click Uninstall.

2. Remove all USB devices

Apple is aware that Bluetooth connectivity is an issue for Mac users and has a dedicated support page for Mac mouse problems and possible fixes for unresponsive keyboards and trackpads.

One quick fix to kick the Bluetooth back into life is to disconnect all USB devices. Remove any and all USB keyboards, mice, and external drives and reboot your Mac. Wait for a couple of minutes and then reconnect them.

It’s a quirky tip, but it might be all it takes to restore the Bluetooth connection.

2. Reset the SMC if Bluetooth is not available on Mac

Resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) is the go-to troubleshooting tip for any issues related to Mac hardware or software, and it usually works.

The process is different depending on which type of Mac you’re using, but we’ve got you covered with both methods:

Resetting the SMC (non-removable batteries)

  1. Shut down your MacBook.
  2. Hold Control+Option+Alt and the Power button at the same time for around 10 seconds.
  3. Release the keys at the same time.
  4. Boot up your Mac as usual.

Resetting the SMC (removable batteries)

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Remove the battery.
  3. Press and hold the power button for five seconds.
  4. Put the battery back in.
  5. Startup your Mac.

Resetting the SMC on desktop Macs

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Pull out the power cord and wait for 15 seconds.
  3. Put the power cord back in.
  4. Wait five seconds, and then press the power button to start up your Mac.

    3. Delete .plist files

    Macs use .plist (Property List) files to store software user preferences for things like the keyboard, mouse, and trackpad. It’s rare, but not unheard of, for these files to become corrupted and affect Bluetooth connectivity. Deleting the .plist files is a straightforward process.

    1. Close any app that is trying to connect with Bluetooth.
    2. Press Command+Shift+G in the Finder.
    3. Enter ~/Library/Preferences/ and click Go.
    4. Locate the file and delete it.
    5. Reboot your MacBook.

    The Preferences folder might contain other files with the same extension. It’s safe to delete these, too but start with the file first.

    4. Reset the Bluetooth module

    If none of the above troubleshooting tips have worked, it’s time to reset the Bluetooth module. Doing this will attempt to debug any issues.

    1. Hold Shift+Option and click the Bluetooth menu in the menu bar.
    2. Select Reset the Bluetooth module.
    3. Restart your Mac.
    4. Repair each of your Bluetooth devices.

    If you’ve exhausted all of the options, it could be that the problem is a serious hardware issue that requires support from AppleCare or an authorized third-party Apple specialist.

    Laptop with CleanMyMac
    CleanMyMac X

    Your Mac. As good as new.