Bluetooth is a very mature technology that is utilized by headphones, keyboards, mice, webcams and other peripherals. Bluetooth has come a long way since those early days of frustrations when you would spend an hour or more trying to get two devices to pair. Now the protocol and the devices are much more evolved and will (usually) pair in seconds and work flawlessly.
As long as you have a Bluetooth receiver on your computer, you should be able to pair any compatible device with it. If you want to go wireless or just like the look and feel of a particular Bluetooth device, here is how to tell if a computer has Bluetooth and how to add it if it doesn’t.
How to Tell if a Windows Computer has Bluetooth
If you use Windows, it is refreshingly simple to find out if your computer has Bluetooth capability or not. This will work on both desktop and laptop.
- Right-click the Windows Start button and select Device Manager.
- Look in the device list for Bluetooth, if the entry is present, you have Bluetooth on your device.
- You can also look in Network adapters for a Bluetooth entry. If it is present, you have Bluetooth capability. If it isn’t, you don’t.
The exception to this is if you have rebuilt Windows yourself and not used Bluetooth since setting everything up. You may not have installed all the drivers, so it would not necessarily show up in Device Manager. If you bought the computer, check the manufacture’s website or manual. If you built it, check the specifications of the hardware you bought.
How to Tell if a Mac Computer has Bluetooth
Most Macs have Bluetooth capability of one kind or another so even if you bought your used or was gifted it, you can usually count on having Bluetooth. If you want to make sure, do this:
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- Open the Apple menu and About This Mac.
- Now, select System Info… to generate a report on all hardware connected.
- Look for Bluetooth and then select it to find out what you have and where.
- You can also look in System Preferences if you prefer. Just look for Bluetooth under Internet & Wireless. This will work on both desktop and laptop.
How to Tell if a Linux Computer has Bluetooth
If you’re using a Linux laptop or PC and want to know if it has Bluetooth capability, you can find out with a simple command. This will work on both desktop and laptop.
- Open a terminal and type ‘dmesg | grep -i blue’ and hit Enter. You can also type ‘lsusb | grep Bluetooth‘ to tell if you have Bluetooth.
- If you see a return listing hardware, you have Bluetooth. If you don’t see a hardware listing, you don’t.
If you are using Linux, be aware that some Linux kernels are not compatible with all Bluetooth modules so will not recognize them. While the query above works on most newer hardware and mainstream distros, if you compiled your own or are using something exotic, it may not return the correct result. I tested it on Ubuntu and Zorin and it worked fine. Your mileage may vary though.
How to Add Bluetooth Capability to a Computer
If the above checks told you that your computer does not have Bluetooth capability but you still want to use it, you will need to add some hardware. Bluetooth adapters come as mPCIe network cards with aerials or USB dongles. Which you use depends on the computer and your situation.
Usually, Bluetooth mPCIe adapter cards have a stronger signal and greater range thanks to their ability to pull more voltage to larger aerials. They will work best in a PC. If you use a laptop or small form factor PC, you may not have the space or want the aerials sticking out, so a USB dongle would work better.
Costs range from $15 up to $45 and adapters come in all shapes and sizes. Some are dedicated Bluetooth while others are combination Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
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- Once you have your hardware, add it to your computer and boot it up.
- The new device should be picked up by your operating system automatically and a driver either downloaded or requested.
- Insert the driver CD if you have one or download the driver from the manufacturer’s website.
- Reboot your machine if prompted and begin using Bluetooth!
Adding Bluetooth capability to a computer is refreshingly simple. With the sheer number and quality of peripherals around right now, it is a great time to go wireless and Bluetooth is how you do it!
Whether you want to connect a wireless headset, mouse, or keyboard, you now know how to check if your computer has Bluetooth capabilities and add it if it doesn’t. Share your thoughts and experiences on Bluetooth below.