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Personal Technology Resource Center


3 Easy Steps to Set Up Bluetooth on Your Device

You can pair a headset, speaker or any accessory with your phone, car or computer

Man wearing wireless earbuds

Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

En español | The newer your smartphone or tablet, the more likely it has no headphone jack. And many new cars don't have CD players, so it's time to embrace Bluetooth.

Bluetooth is a short-range wireless communication technology. You may be using it already if you have a wireless mouse without the separate thumbnail-sized receiver that you must plug into a USB port.

Most fitness trackers and smartwatches connect to your smartphone using Bluetooth. Wireless keyboards often connect to laptops and tablets via Bluetooth. Your iPhone's AirDrop feature and Android phones’ Nearby Share use both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to share photos and files from smartphones with friends who have similar phones. Video game pads and controllers communicate with their consoles through Bluetooth. Some soundbars link with newer smart TVs via Bluetooth. Keyless door locks can use Bluetooth to allow your phone to open them. The newest hearing aids even connect with smartphones and smart TVs via Bluetooth.

But when people think of Bluetooth, they think of wireless headsets, which can be as small as earbuds or as big as over-the-ear headphones. Sometimes a set will be included with your smartphone. If you want to buy a set, prices can range from about $15 to more than $500, so check customers’ ratings for sound quality.

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Bluetooth-enabled devices don't connect automatically. That's to make sure your privacy is protected. Having your Bluetooth always on, even without a device connected, won't drain your battery.

So here's how to set up a Bluetooth headset or speaker. The steps work in general for other devices, too.

1. Activate Bluetooth

Speaker systems may have different processes for connecting, but making this happen is often simple. Turn on your devices’ Bluetooth and have them “discover” each other.

For Apple: Go to Settings; tap on Bluetooth. For Android: Go to Settings; tap on Connections, then Bluetooth.

2. Pair the devices

For Apple: Under the My Devices or Other Devices heading, look for a listing for the new Bluetooth speakers you want to pair; tap on that listing. For Android: Tap on Scan. Below the Available Devices heading, you'll see a listing for the new Bluetooth speakers. Tap on that listing.

3. Play your music

After this initial pairing, your music device and your speaker system should connect automatically. Then, any music you play on your phone — including through popular streaming apps such as Spotify or Pandora — will come through your wireless headset or speakers.