What to Do When Your Bluetooth Will Not Connect

Top View Of Office Concept With Mobile Phone Headphone On Blue Background

Bluetooth is not a new technology. From the beginning, people loved the idea of not having to deal with all the wires when they wanted to connect their phones to other devices. However, Bluetooth is not perfect and does have its issues and limitations. But what do you do when it doesn’t connect? Check out this guide for solutions.

Good to know: check out the best rugged Bluetooth speakers made for great outdoor adventures.

1. Make Sure Bluetooth Is Enabled

The first thing you want to check is whether Bluetooth is enabled on both devices that you’re trying to connect. Easily check this on an Android phone by swiping up from the top of the display and checking whether the Bluetooth toggle is enabled. (It should be colored.) If it’s not, tap on it to enable it.

Enabling Bluetooth toggle on Android phone.

On an iPhone, swipe down from the top-right side of the display, and check whether the Bluetooth toggle is on.

Enabling Bluetooth toggle on iPhone.

On a Windows PC, check out our guide to see how to enable Bluetooth if it is not on. If you’re using a Mac, check whether Bluetooth is active.

If you’re trying to connect a peripheral to your mobile device, such as a pair of headphones or a keyboard, verify whether Bluetooth is enabled on that device as well. Check the device carefully for any switch or button that indicates whether the feature is active.

Tip: looking for an AirTag alternative for Android? Check out these Bluetooth trackers.

2. Turn Bluetooth and Devices Off-On

If you’ve verified Bluetooth is on for both devices but still can’t connect them, try turning Bluetooth on and off for both. Wait a few seconds, then enable Bluetooth again.

You can also try restarting the devices. This is a general fix you can turn to when your smartphone or other devices aren’t working properly. After you restart, give the phone time to locate the nearby devices and attempt the connection again.

3. Remove & Re-Pair Devices

As it happens, when you can’t connect to a device via Bluetooth, your smartphone or tablet may be already connected to another device via Bluetooth. Since many devices can only connect to one Bluetooth device at a time, it’s a good idea to give your phone a fresh start by removing all the (saved) devices it was previously paired to.

Open the Settings app on your Android phone, and select Connected Devices to see a list of devices that have been recently paired to your smartphone.

Tapping on

Tap on the gear icon next to the name of the device.

Tapping gear icon next to connected device in Android Settings.

Select Disconnect, then Forget to prevent it from reconnecting automatically.

Selecting

On an iPhone, go to the Settings app and tap Bluetooth.

Tap the device in question under My Devices.

List of connected devices on iPhone.

Opt to Disconnect, then Forget this device.

Options to Disconnect or

On Windows, head to Settings -> Bluetooth & devices -> Devices, and disconnect your devices.

On a Mac, open the Apple menu -> System Settings. Click Bluetooth in the sidebar. Hold the pointer over the device in the list, and select Disconnect. Finally, Control – click its name, then press Forget.

Wait a while, then re-pair the device you wish to connect. To do so on Android, go back to Connected devices, and tap the Pair new device button.

Blutooth Will Not Connect Pair New Device

Wait for the device to show up, then tap on it to connect it to your smartphone.

On iOS, go to Settings -> Bluetooth. The iPhone will scan for new devices in proximity, then show them under Other devices.

Bluetooth Not Connecting Ios Pair New Device

Tap on the device you want to connect to.

If you want to connect your phone from the other end, go to Settings -> Bluetooth and devices on your Windows PC. Click the Add device button, then select Bluetooth. Wait for the computer to detect your smartphone.

On Mac, access System Settings -> Bluetooth. Hold the pointer over the device in the list, and click Connect.

FYI: if you’re looking for a stylish speaker, check out this list.

4. Check Both Devices for Software Updates

If you’re trying to connect via Bluetooth and haven’t updated your phone in a long time, this may have repercussions.

You should get a notification when an update is ready for your phone, but if you think you missed it, you can check whether there’s anything new. On Android, go to Settings -> System -> System update.

Tapping on

On iOS, check Settings -> General -> Software Update.

Tapping on

If you’re trying to connect your phone to a Windows or Mac computer, it may be worth investigating whether there’s a new update waiting for your machine. If so, make the upgrade, then try to connect again.

This trick has usually worked for me when I’m having Bluetooth issues (which are quite frequent, unfortunately).

5. Clear Bluetooth Cache

If your Bluetooth has worked before, the Bluetooth cache may have become corrupted. Clearing the temporary files in the cache can remove corrupted files and allow Bluetooth to connect again.

Note: this fix is available only on older Android devices; on newer Android versions, the option to do so has been removed.

Go to Settings -> Apps, and tap on Bluetooth. If you can’t see it, you may need to enable the system app view first. On the App page, tap on Storage or Storage & Cache.

Cleaning Bluetooth cache on Android.

Tap the Clear Cache button to delete the data.

6. Check Whether Devices Are in Range

When taking advantage of Bluetooth connectivity, make sure the devices you’re trying to link are in close proximity. The technology usually requires that the devices be within at least 20 feet (6 m) of each other for the connection to work.

For example, if you’re trying to connect to a device that’s downstairs, while you’re in a room upstairs, establishing a link will probably not work. Try getting closer to the target device and try again.

7. Disable NFC and Wi-Fi

The frequencies of the other wireless data transfer methods, NFC and Wi-Fi, can interfere with the functionality of Bluetooth. This is not usually the problem, but it’s worth a try if prior methods did not yield results.

If you’re not exactly sure what the difference is between Wi-Fi and NFC, this article explains everything clearly.

On Android, swipe from the top of the display, and disable the toggles for Wi-Fi and NFC. If the NFC toggle is missing, go to Settings -> Connected devices -> Connection preferences.

Clicking on

Make sure you turn NFC off.

You can’t disable NFC system-wide on iOS. Instead, the feature is automatically turned on and off as needed.

Tip: learn how to clear the cache on Windows.

8. Wipe the Cache Partition

The internal storage of your phone has a particular partition for temporary files. Sometimes the cache files can pile up and affect your Bluetooth connection. Try wiping the cache partition, which will not affect your other data.

Note: this will only work on older Android phones, as the option has been removed from newer Android versions.

Turn off your Android phone. Connect it to your PC using a USB cable.

Press the Power and Volume Up buttons together for a few seconds. Select Recovery mode from the menu on your phone.

Switching to Recovery Mode on Android while phone is connected to USB via PC.

Select the Wipe cache partition option.

Select Reboot system now.

9. Reset Your Device’s Bluetooth Settings

If you’re still experiencing the issue, reset all Bluetooth settings on your phone. This will help clear any existing pairing information, preferences, and potential glitches that may be causing connectivity problems. You’ll be allowing your device to establish a new connection without any previous hindrance. Before you do anything, note that this will also erase all Wi-Fi data on your device.

On your Android device, open Settings -> System -> Reset options.

Tapping

Select Bluetooth & Wi-Fi.

Resetting Bluetooth and Wi-Fi settings on Android.

Tap Reset on the pop-up to confirm.

On an iPhone, go to Settings -> General -> Transfer or Reset iPhone.

Clicking on

Select Reset at the bottom.

Selecting option to

Select the Reset Network Settings option. Like on Android, this will wipe out Wi-Fi and VPN data as well.

Tip: is the Bluetooth button missing from the Acton Center in Windows? Learn how to fix it.

10. Do a Factory Reset

If you have tried everything, and your Bluetooth is still not connecting, you may need to reset your phone to its original factory settings. Make sure to create a backup of your phone’s data beforehand if you don’t want to lose everything.

On Android, head to Settings -> System -> Reset options, and select the Erase all data (factory reset) option. Follow the instructions from there.

On iPhone, go to Settings -> General -> Transfer or Reset iPhone, and select Erase All Content and Settings.

If you suspect the other device you’re trying to connect, such as your Windows or Mac computer, is an issue, consider resetting it to its factory settings too.

If you want to transfer data between devices, know that using Bluetooth is not your only option. Learn how to remotely transfer photos from an Android device to a computer. Also, check out these tricks that will allow you to simultaneously use multiple Bluetooth speakers on iPhone.

Image credit: Freepik & Flaticon. All screenshots by Alexandra Arici.

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Alexandra Arici

Alexandra is passionate about mobile tech and can be often found fiddling with a smartphone from some obscure company. She kick-started her career in tech journalism in 2013, after working a few years as a middle-school teacher. Constantly driven by curiosity, Alexandra likes to know how things work and to share that knowledge with everyone.

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