Does my computer have Bluetooth? How to add it if it doesn't have

Bluetooth is a very mature technology that is used by headphones, keyboards, mice, webcams and other peripherals. If you want to go wireless or just like the look of a particular Bluetooth device, here's how to tell if a computer has Bluetooth and how to add it if it doesn't.

Bluetooth has come a long way from those frustrating early days of spending an hour or more trying to pair two devices. Now the protocol and devices are much more advanced and will (usually) pair in seconds and work flawlessly. As long as you have a Bluetooth receiver on your computer, you should be able to pair any compatible device to it. Here's how.

How to Tell if a Windows Computer Has Bluetooth

If you use Windows, it is very easy to know if your computer is Bluetooth compatible or not. It will work on both desktop and laptop.

  1. Right click on the Windows start button and select Gestionnaire de périphériques.
  2. Search in the list of devices Bluetooth, if the entry is present, you have Bluetooth on your device.

You can also look in Network adapters for Bluetooth input. If present, you have Bluetooth capability. If not, you don't.

The exception to this is if you rebuilt Windows yourself and haven't used Bluetooth since setting up anything. You may not have all the drivers installed, so they may not show up in Device Manager. If you purchased the computer, check the manufacturer's website or manual. If you built it, check the specs of the hardware you purchased.

How to Tell if a Mac Computer Has Bluetooth

Most Macs have Bluetooth capability of one type or another, so even if you bought it used or gave it away, you can usually rely on Bluetooth. If you want to make sure, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Apple menu et About this Mac.
  2. Now select System Information… to generate a report on all connected hardware.
  3. Search Bluetooth then select it to find out what you have and where.

You can also look in System Preferences if you prefer. just search Bluetooth under Internet and wireless. It will work on both desktop and laptop.

How to Tell if a Linux Computer Has Bluetooth

If you are using a laptop or Linux PC and want to know if it is Bluetooth enabled, you can find out with a simple command. It will work on both desktop and laptop.

  1. Open a terminal and type 'dmesg | grep -i blue' and press Enter. You can also type 'lsusb | grep Bluetooth' to find out if you have Bluetooth.
  2. If you see a hardware return list, you have Bluetooth. If you don't see a hardware list, you don't see it.

If you are using Linux, be aware that some Linux kernels are not compatible with all Bluetooth modules and therefore will not recognize them. Although the above query will work on most newer hardware and mainstream distros, if you've compiled your own or are using something exotic, it may not return the correct result. I tested it on Ubuntu and Zorin and it worked fine. Your mileage may vary, however.

How to Add Bluetooth Capability to a Computer

If the checks above tell you that your computer does not have Bluetooth capability but you still want to use it, you will need to add hardware. Bluetooth adapters are supplied as mPCIe network cards with antennas or USB keys. What you use depends on the computer and your situation.

Usually, mPCIe Bluetooth adapter cards have a stronger signal and greater range due to their ability to draw more voltage to larger antennas. They will work best on a PC. If you're using a laptop or small PC, you may not have the space or want the antennas sticking out, so a USB dongle would work better.

Costs range from $15 to $45, and adapters come in all shapes and sizes. Some are dedicated to Bluetooth while others are a combination of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

  1. Once you have your hardware, add it to your computer and start it.
  2. The new device should be picked up automatically by your operating system and a driver downloaded or requested.
  3. Insert the driver CD if you have one or download the driver from the manufacturer's website.
  4. Restart your machine if prompted and start using Bluetooth!

Adding Bluetooth capability to a computer is refreshingly simple. With the number and quality of devices currently available, now is the perfect time to go wireless and Bluetooth is the way you do it!

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