How to Get Bluetooth on a Laptop

by Jeff Grundy

Many modern laptops offer wireless technology that enables you connect many types of peripherals via a Bluetooth signal. While most new laptops support Bluetooth, not all do. Furthermore, many older laptops may not include a Bluetooth adapter. Nevertheless, even if your laptop does not have integrated Bluetooth support, you can still connect compatible wireless devices to the notebook using a small, unobtrusive adapter.

Install a Bluetooth Adapter or Dongle

Insert the Bluetooth adapter installation CD into the optical drive of the computer and wait a few seconds for the setup wizard to appear on the screen.

Click “Setup” “Install Driver” or another similarly named menu option in the setup wizard, and then follow the onscreen prompts to install the Windows driver for the Bluetooth adapter or dongle. Reboot the computer if prompted.

Plug the Bluetooth adapter cable or dongle into an empty USB port on the computer. Wait a few seconds while Windows detects the Bluetooth adapter and configures it automatically with the driver you installed from the setup disc. After a few seconds, a small Bluetooth icon appears in the Quick Launch area of the Windows task bar near the time and date display.

Enable Bluetooth Discovery Mode

Right-click the Bluetooth signal icon on the Windows task bar, then click “Open Settings” after the popup menu.

Select and enable the “Allow Bluetooth Devices to Find This Computer” option in the Discovery section. Check all available options under the “Connections” header except “Turn off the Bluetooth adapter.” After selecting the options, the Bluetooth Settings window appears.

Click the “Share” tab in the Bluetooth Settings window, then enable the “Allow Remote Devices to Browse, Send and Receive Pictures, Music and Other Files” option. Click the “Apply” button, then “OK.”

Connect and Pair a Bluetooth Device

Enable Bluetooth the wireless device if required. For devices such as a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse, you need not enable the protocol, as it is active all the time. For other devices, though, such as a smartphone, you must enable Bluetooth manually. To do this on a phone, tap the “Menu” key, “Settings" and then "Bluetooth." For other devices, you may need to press a button or enable a switch to turn on Bluetooth. After you enable Bluetooth on your wireless device, ensure that the discovery or broadcast mode is active.

Go to the laptop and click the Start button, then “Devices and Printers.” After the Devices and Printers window appears, click "Add a Device" and wait a few seconds for Windows to detect nearby Bluetooth wireless devices. After a few seconds, Windows displays list of detected wireless devices.

Select the device name of your wireless Bluetooth device in the list and click the “Next” button. Windows negotiates a connections with the Bluetooth-enabled device and displays an access code in a new “Type the Following Code into Your Device” window. Record the code and click "Next." Note that you don’t need the code if connecting a device such as a keyboard, mouse or pair of speakers. Access codes are primarily for phones or other devices that access your local hard drive or provide network access.

Type the Bluetooth access code from the computer on the wireless device if required. Press the "Connect" or equivalent button on the device and wait a few seconds for it to connect with the computer. After the devices connects to the computer successfully, Windows displays a confirmation window on the computer. Click “Close” to exit the confirmation window, and then use the Bluetooth device normally.

Tip

  • If your laptop already has a Bluetooth adapter, you may need to enable it before it becomes active. On most laptops, you can enable Bluetooth by pressing the "Fn" key and the function key with a small Bluetooth icon. Other laptops might have a dedicated button on the keyboard for enabling Bluetooth. If you are not sure of which keys to press to enable Bluetooth, refer to your laptop's owners manual or user guide.

Items you will need

  • USB Bluetooth Adapter/Dongle (if the laptop does not have integrated Bluetooth support)

About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images