How to turn on Bluetooth in Windows

One of the easiest ways to connect a peripheral to a Windows PC is via Bluetooth. Whether it’s a mouse, a keyboard, a speaker, or something else entirely, it’s easy to pair and connect via Bluetooth and performance has significantly improved over the years. Not all Windows PCs come with Bluetooth out of the box, but Bluetooth dongles are inexpensive to purchase and easy enough to install.

At the same time, Bluetooth isn’t free in terms of battery life, which can be a concern when you’re working on a notebook away from a power supply, and there are some security risks involved with leaving Bluetooth turned on. Fortunately, managing Bluetooth is a relatively trivial matter, and here are some quick instructions how to turn on Bluetooth in Windows.

Method 1: Windows Settings

Before you can start using a Bluetooth device, you’ll need to get things configured first. That means taking a trip to Windows settings, which means the Control Panel on Windows 7 and the Settings app on Windows 10.

Windows 10

Step 1: On Windows 10, you’ll want to open the Action Center and click on the “All settings” button. Then, go to Devices and click on Bluetooth on the left hand side.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Step 2: There, just toggle Bluetooth to the “On” position. Once you’ve turned Bluetooth on, you can click “Add Bluetooth or other devices.” Click on “Bluetooth” and Windows 10 will start searching for Bluetooth devices.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Step 3: Assuming you kicked off your Bluetooth device’s its pairing mode, you’ll see it show up in the list of available devices. Select it and then continue as instructed. Once you’ve connected the device, it will show up in the list of connected peripherals.

Windows 7

Usually, once a Bluetooth adapter is installed and configured on a Windows 7 system, then it’s automatically turned on and ready to use. In some PCs, for example a notebook with built-in Bluetooth, there might be a keyboard shortcut that will turn Bluetooth on or off, or an icon might be present in the system tray that will perform the same function.

Also, different PCs and Bluetooth adapters may come with utilities for connecting to a Bluetooth device. Generally, however, you can usually click the Start button and then right-click on  select “Devices and Printers.” Select “Add a device,” select it, and click “Next.” Alternatively, you can open the Control Panel and access “Hardware and Sound” and then “Devices and Printer” to get started. Again, follow the instructions to pair your device.

Method 2: Click the Bluetooth button in the Action Center

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

One Windows 10, Bluetooth can be easily toggled on and off simply by opening the Action Center and clicking the Bluetooth button. The button is the one with the Bluetooth icon, along with the label “Not connected” if you’re not currently using a Bluetooth device or an indication of a primary device that is currently attached and in use. If the button is greyed out, then Bluetooth is turned off.

Once you’ve paired a Bluetooth device with your Windows PC, it should automatically connect whenever both are turned on and within range. As mentioned earlier, when you’re not actively using Bluetooth you can toggle it off to save some battery life and remove on potential avenue for attack by nefarious parties.

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