If you rely on Bluetooth on your computer to connect to devices, you need to know what to do when they don’t connect. Bluetooth connectivity problems can often be fixed easily in Windows.
Whether you use Bluetooth speakers or earbuds, a phone, watch, fitness device, or some other gadget that connects to your computer via Bluetooth, sometimes for no apparent reason, they fail to connect. Don’t worry because it can usually be fixed.
There isn’t one solution that fixes all Bluetooth faults and you just have to try different things. It isn’t obvious which fix will work, so just start at the beginning and work your way through them.
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Turn it off and then on
This is the number one way to fix anything! It does not work all the time, but surprisingly, it does work some of the time. It is not guaranteed to fix Bluetooth, but it is so easy to do that it should be the first thing you try.
In Windows 11 click the Wi-Fi icon at the right side of the taskbar (notification icon in Windows 10) and click the Bluetooth button to turn it off. Also turn off Bluetooth on the device if possible (speaker, phone, earbuds, etc.), and then power it off. Restart Windows and when you get back to the desktop, enable Bluetooth on the computer and turn on the device and its Bluetooth. Hopefully, they will find each other and pair.
Pair with the device again
Sometimes devices that used to work seem to forget each other or they can see each other, but they are not paired or they were paired but become unpaired.
In Windows 11, click the Wi-Fi icon at the right side of the taskbar and then click the > next to the Bluetooth icon to see paired devices. Better still, open Settings > Bluetooth & devices and connected devices are shown. (In Windows 10, open Settings > Devices.) Click the plus button to add a device.
You are asked what type of device to add. Select Bluetooth and the computer scans for devices. While it is scanning, the device needs to make itself known. There may be a pairing button on the device or you might need to press a combination of buttons. Sometimes you power off, then hold the power button down until it turns on and enters Bluetooth pairing mode. It varies.
On an Android phone for example, open Settings > Connections > Bluetooth and it begins scanning, but there is also a Scan button to manually start scanning. Both the computer and device need to be scanning at the same time. If or when they find each other, there is an option to pair them.
Probably the most common cause of difficulties connecting to Bluetooth device is a recent update. It could be a Windows update, a software update or even an update on the device itself. If the Bluetooth device just stopped working and there was a recent update, that might be the cause.
A major update like from Windows 10 to 11 is a common cause, but even the smaller twice-a-year updates can cause problems too. Uninstalling a Windows update or reverting to an older version of software can sometimes fix a Bluetooth device connection problem.
In Windows 11 open Settings and click Windows Update > Update History > Uninstall Updates. You can then uninstall the last update. It might fix the Bluetooth problem.
In Windows 10 open Settings and click Update & Security > View update history > Uninstall updates. A list of updates appears in a new window. Make it wide enough to see the Installed On column and uninstall the latest one.
Reverting back to Windows 10 from Windows 11 is a major change and is not recommended unless everything else fails and you absolutely must be able to use the Bluetooth device. Don’t do it, try the other fixes first.
Updates can cause unintended problems with devices, but often they fix them too. If other people are having Bluetooth problems, there may be a fix in an operating system or software update.
In Windows 11 open Settings and click Windows Update. Click Check for updates. Click Advanced options > Optional updates and see if any mention Bluetooth or device support. They may fix the problem.
In Windows 10 press Windows+I to open the Settings app and click Update & Security. Check for updates and also look at View optional updates.
Roll back the driver
If Bluetooth used to work, but now it does not, it is worth trying to go back to a previous version of the driver. Right click the Start button and select Device Manager on the menu. Expand the Bluetooth section, double click each sub-item and a window opens. Select the Driver tab and if the Roll Back Driver button is enabled, click it.
The button is not always available and different entries appear when Bluetooth is turned on and off, but it is worth trying. Restart Windows afterwards and try pairing your device again.
Delete the driver
When Windows starts, it scans the hardware and installs drivers for all the components. If the Bluetooth driver is deleted, Windows will automatically install a suitable driver on startup. It is like a driver refresh and it can fix a corrupted driver or replace an incompatible driver with a compatible one. It also may do nothing, but it is worth trying.
Right click the Start button and select Device Manager on the menu. Expand the Bluetooth section, right click each item in the Bluetooth section and click Uninstall device. Restart Windows and those drivers will be replaced with fresh copies.
It might fix the problem, but you will probably need to pair your device again.
Use a driver update utility
There are utilities that scan the computer for drivers, then go on the internet and find the latest versions. These can be downloaded and installed to update the computer drivers.
An example is IObit Driver Booster. Click Free Download to get the free version or you will get a free trial of the paid version.
It is fairly straightforward to use, but ignore any options to update all drivers. Look specifically for an updated Bluetooth driver and update only that. Utilities like these are good at finding updates and one may fix Bluetooth not working in Windows.
Install the PC’s original drivers
Sometimes Windows Update replaces drivers that came with the computer with newer drivers from Microsoft. In theory they should be better, but sometimes only the original driver works.
Go to the computer manufacturer’s website and search for the exact model you have. Look for software downloads and often you can find the original software and drivers that came with it. Download it and install it.
On one PC, I used to keep the audio drivers from the manufacturer on the disk and after every Windows update I would re-install the audio driver Microsoft replaced. The same can happen with Bluetooth drivers. Find and save the originals.