Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Does My Computer Have Bluetooth?

It is common that folks who already own a MacBook or PC will buy a Bluetooth device, such as a mouse or keyboard, but then after the fact ask themselves a simple question: Does my computer have Bluetooth support?

Don't fret, because it is very easy to find out whether or not your computer supports Bluetooth communication. And even if it does not, there are external options like a USB dongle which will add Bluetooth support for all of your devices.

For Windows

As far as operating system support goes, Microsoft has included native support for Bluetooth with the releases of Windows Service Pack 2 and 3.  Before these versions, it was necessary to manually install the drivers for your Bluetooth hardware.

To find out if your computer has Bluetooth, go to the Control Panel, and look for the Bluetooth Devices icon as shown in the screenshot below.

If you don't have this "Classic View" option, Go to "Hardware and Sound" and under the first menu option, "Devices and Printers", look for the link to "Add a Bluetooth device".  If you see these links or icons you should be ready to connect new Bluetooth devices.

An even better way is to check if your computer has the hardware to handle Bluetooth.  To do this, you may  go to the Search Bar in the Windows Start Menu and type "Device Manager", then click on the first item to open.

You can also right-click the my computer icon on the desktop and go to "Properties".  From there you will find the link to the Device Manager on the left sidebar.

With the device manager open, find and expand the network adapters menu. If your computer supports Bluetooth then you will see one or more adapters listed as shown here.

For Mac OS X

While Bluetooth support is varied among computers with Windows operating systems, it is widely supported by almost all of the latest couple generations of Macs and MacBooks.

There are a few easy ways to find out if your MacBook has built-in Bluetooth.

First, take a look at your menu bar at the very top of your screen for the Bluetooth icon, because this is a clear indication that your device is looking for nearby devices to connect with.

If this is not visible, click the Apple button at the top left of the menu bar and open "System Preferences".  Look under the "Internet & Wireless" section for the Bluetooth icon and open this screen if the option exists.

If you see the following screen which states that Bluetooth is on when the checkbox is ticked, you are ready to rock!  You will also find the checkbox at the bottom of these screen which toggles whether or not Bluetooth status is displayed as an icon in the menu bar.

Much like Windows, if you want to dig deeper into the actual hardware you may do so by clicking on the Apple button at the top left of the menu bar and then click "About This Mac".  From here, select "More Info".

This brings a screen which gives you an overview of all the devices, storage and memory associated with your Mac.  To further inspect the hardware select the "System Report" button.

This will display a list of all the hardware components that are part of your system.  Select Bluetooth from the left sidebar, and if there are hardware settings listed then you know that your computer has the necessary adapter to work with Bluetooth devices.


So there you have it - several ways for both Windows and Mac to answer the question, does my computer have Bluetooth?  If you still don't see any trace of Bluetooth, check an online electronics retailer for external USB Bluetooth adapters which will work plug-n-play style to give you full support in any scenario.

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