What is a Bluetooth Dongle and How to Choose the Best One?

What does Bluetooth Dongle Do

Adding a Bluetooth dongle to PC or Mac devices seems like a reasonably straightforward process. However, a lot of things can go wrong, not to your fault. On this page, we won’t try to convince you why you need a Bluetooth dongle, but we will share tips on how you can add it to your computer. We’ll even help you choose the right Bluetooth dongle based on your personal needs.

If you also worry that you don’t have a Bluetooth feature on your PC or Mac because you have an older model, we’ll also share useful advice on adding a Bluetooth adapter to your device. Let’s just get to it.

STEP 1. Check if Your Computer has Bluetooth

Before you can connect your Bluetooth device, you need to check if your computer has a Bluetooth option in the first place. Here’s how to check it on Mac and Windows devices, starting with the latter:

On Windows

  1. Open “Start” and then look up “Device Manager” in it.
  2. Look for the “Bluetooth” mark. If you find it, your Windows PC has built-in Bluetooth. If not, it doesn’t have such capabilities.

On Mac

  1. Open the Apple Menu and click on the Apple logo in the top-left corner.
  2. Select the “About this Mac” option to open the pop-up window.
  3. Select “System Report” and expand the “Hardware” section
  4. Look for the “Bluetooth” heading. If you don’t see it, your Mac device doesn’t have a built-in Bluetooth.

How to Add Bluetooth to Your Computer?

If you’ve determined that your computer doesn’t have Bluetooth capabilities, you’ll need to add this feature manually. Luckily, this isn’t an uphill task and won’t take up much of your time or money.

The only thing you need is a Bluetooth adapter. It comes in the form of a simple USB dongle and, don’t worry; you don’t have to look up how to use a Bluetooth adapter. You don’t even need to know how does a Bluetooth dongle work. All you need to do is to plug the USB Bluetooth adapter dongle into your computer, and you’re good to go.

STEP 2. Find a Bluetooth Dongle that Best Fits Your Need

To know which Bluetooth dongle will best fit your needs, you first need to understand what a Bluetooth dongle does. In simple terms, Bluetooth technology allows devices to communicate with each other over short distances through high-frequency wireless technology.

The list of reasons why you might need a Bluetooth dongle is fairly extensive. The most notable uses for a Bluetooth dongle include wireless communication with cell phones and desktop computers, wireless printing, file transfers, and network sharing. Even wireless keyboard and mouse devices are a typical example which most of us often overlook.

Which Bluetooth Dongle to Buy?

With Bluetooth adapters and dongles flooding the tech market, singling out specific products can be challenging if you don’t know what you primarily look for. So, which is the best dongle to buy?

In truth, there’s no across-the-board answer, as your choice will ultimately depend on your needs and preferences. But, to help you out, we’ll highlight the most critical factors you should pay attention to when choosing a Bluetooth dongle:

  • Transmission Range - The most obvious thing to pay attention to, the overall transmission range can be the difference-maker in your user experience. Although the connection’s quality is equally crucial as distance itself, never overlook transmission range when choosing a Bluetooth adapter.
  • OS Support - Range, network stability, and performance are irrelevant if the dongle you buy isn’t compatible with your OS. Ideally, a dongle should be compatible with all major platforms. It should also have an available US 2.0 or 1.2 port.
  • Bluetooth Version - Another crucial aspect to pay attention to is the adapter’s Bluetooth version. Buying any version that’s lower than 4.0 will disappoint you. It simply can’t provide you with the range and performance characteristics modern users have grown used to. Versions 4.0 and higher are not only better performers but also consume less energy. This is especially important for laptop users.

STEP 3. Set Up Your Dongle and Use it With Bluetooth Devices

For this set-up example, we’ll use the Hideez USB Dongle because it’s compatible with both old and new versions of Windows and macOS. Moreover, this model is affordable, extremely compact, and supports a range of up to 20 meters (65 ft.). So let’s take a closer look at how to set up this dongle, starting with the Windows step-by-step guide:

How to Set Up Your Dongle on Windows

Setting up your Bluetooth dongle on Windows is straightforward. To help you make sure that this process goes without a hitch, we’ve created a detailed step-by-step guide you can follow as you go. Here’s how to connect Bluetooth dongle to PC Windows 10:

1. Insert the Bluetooth dongle in your computer’s USB port.
2. Open the Device Manager and Bluetooth will appear.
Adding Bluetooth Dongle

3. Go to “Settings”, click on “Bluetooth and other devices” and choose the “Add Bluetooth or other device” option

Adding a Bluetooth device

4. Select the device of your choice and pair up!

Pairing a Bluetooth Device

How to Set Up Your Dongle on Mac

Setting up the Bluetooth dongle on your macOS device requires slightly different installation steps, but don’t worry, as the process is not more complicated than with the Windows counterpart. Here’s how you can set up your Bluetooth dongle on Mac devices:

  1. Insert the Bluetooth dongle in your computer’s USB port.
  2. Reboot your computer.
  3. When your computer reboots, you can choose between two options. You can send a special command to the system through the command line and allow the Hideez Dongle by default. Alternatively, you can install the Bluetooth Explorer application to set up the Bluetooth device.

How to Fix Bluetooth Pairing Issues?

If you’ve followed this guide, you’ve most likely managed to connect your Bluetooth dongle to your device. However, in some cases, the pairing might still fail because of many different reasons. Bluetooth requires both hardware and software to work together without a fault, and if the two can’t find a common language, connection issues happen.

If you haven’t managed to connect your Bluetooth dongle even though you’ve followed all of the above steps, you’ll have to engage in a bit of problem-solving to determine the root of the issue. Here are a couple of useful tips that will help you fix your Bluetooth pairing issues:

  • Remove Old Bluetooth Connections - If you’ve previously connected the dongle to a different device, you might experience issues with it trying to connect to the old connection instead of the new one. If you’re having such trouble, it’s best to reset your device and start fresh with the new connection.
  • Power Off and Back On - The old and proven method of simply performing a soft reset can often do the trick. This is even simpler if you’re setting up Bluetooth on your mobile device, as you don’t even need to turn it off. Just go in and out of airplane mode.
  • Get Away from Your Wi-Fi - Since Wi-Fi and Bluetooth operate in a relatively close spectrum, you might experience interference if you’re trying to connect to Bluetooth while near a Wi-Fi device. Move away from your router, and you just might find that your Bluetooth will start working.
  • Charge Up The Device - Modern computers and laptops have a smart power management function to preserve themselves when their battery is running low. They automatically turn off any functions that drain the battery too much, including Bluetooth. For this reason, you should always make sure that your device has enough juice before pairing it up.
  • Update Your Device’s Firmware - If you can’t connect to your PC or Mac, consider that the issue could be coming from the device itself. Check if you have the latest firmware and update it to pair up with the dongle.