Bluetooth is quickly becoming one of those veteran technologies that may fall away in some areas (such as file transfers) but thrive more and more in others (wireless controllers, headphones and other devices). With Bluetooth 5 just out, and with more devices than ever attached to your Windows 10 PC simultaneously, we’re here to help you manage the increasing wireless traffic by showing you how to manage your Bluetooth device collection.
Set Up Bluetooth in Windows 10
Setting up Bluetooth in Windows 10 should be a cinch. If you have Bluetooth built into your PC already, then it’s just a case of going to “Settings -> Devices,” then clicking “Bluetooth & other devices” in the pane on the left. (Alternatively, you may already have a little Bluetooth icon in your notification area at the bottom-right corner of your desktop. Likewise, if you have a USB Bluetooth dongle, it should be detected by Windows 10 and install automatically.)
Once on the “Bluetooth & other devices” screen, it should be just a case of clicking the Bluetooth slider to “On” to switch it on.
If you can’t activate Bluetooth for whatever reason, go to Device Manager, then click the Bluetooth dropdown in the list and look for any exclamation marks by your Bluetooth drivers. If there is one, right-click it and then try “Update Driver,” or disable then re-enable the problem driver.
As an overview, here are the main Bluetooth device drivers that you should have listed in Device Manager. (These don’t include any Bluetooth devices installed on your PC, which will vary from PC to PC.)
Bluetooth Radio/Wireless Bluetooth/Similar
This is the actual Bluetooth receiver/radio that you have in your PC – whether attached to the motherboard or via a USB dongle. If your Bluetooth radio is off, then it’s quite possible that the only thing you’ll see under the Bluetooth dropdown is this. This needs to be enabled for Bluetooth to even appear in your Settings window and for the below Bluetooth device drivers to become visible.
Device Identification Service
This always runs in the background so long as you have a Bluetooth radio switched on and is responsible for identifying each of your Bluetooth devices, making sure they work as they should and (hopefully) don’t conflict with each other.
Microsoft Bluetooth Enumerator
This service kicks in when you’re installing a Bluetooth radio without a driver (a generic USB one, for example), and Microsoft effectively “takes control” of that driver.
Service Discovery Service
This looks for different services related to your Bluetooth devices and helps them essentially coordinate with your Bluetooth devices. A bit like the identification service, this is essential for your Bluetooth devices to run.
Install and Manage Your Bluetooth Devices
Once your actual Bluetooth radio and its associated services are in order, it’s time to manage your Bluetooth devices: all the fancy peripherals that you want to wirelessly connect to your PC.
To add a Bluetooth device, you’ll need to switch on its scanning/pairing mode. (How to do this varies between devices, but generally it involves holding down a button on the device for several seconds before its lights start flashing or it tells you it’s ‘pairing.’)
Once you device is in pairing mode, in Windows 10 go to the Bluetooth settings again (Settings -> Devices -> Bluetooth & other devices), then click Add Bluetooth or other device -> Bluetooth, and it should appear in the list. Click it to pair it. Windows may then ask you for the device’s PIN code, which is usually 0000 by default.
Sometimes, if you pair a certain device with another computer then want to reconnect it with the one you’re currently using, you’ll need to (annoyingly) remove the device, then re-pair like you were starting afresh. To remove the device, just select it in your list of Bluetooth devices and click “Remove device.” To re-pair it, follow the pairing instructions above this paragraph.
Bluetooth can be a fiddly business, involving lots of pairing, repairing, and connects and reconnects. That’s something you have to live with, sadly, so learning to do it quickly and efficiently is super-handy. Remember that the lists of Bluetooth devices in the Device Manager and Settings are basically the same thing but may be worded a little differently.
As a general rule, for quick installation and pairing of Bluetooth devices, use Settings, and for troubleshooting and updating the drivers of your actual Bluetooth radio, use Device Manager.