Like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth technology is creeping its way into our everyday lives, becoming a staple for electronics. Early iterations of Bluetooth were rudimentary and impractical for everyday consumers.
But nowadays, it’s gotten advanced enough that we can eschew the need for wired peripherals like keyboards, mice, and headphones in favor of wireless versions.
Many modern computers are coming equipped with Bluetooth technology. But if you have an older computer, or opted for a cheaper model that doesn’t have Bluetooth built-in, then you may need to add it yourself. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to add Bluetooth to a PC.
How to See If Your Computer Has Bluetooth Capabilities
Before you rush out to buy a Bluetooth adapter for your computer, you should check to see if your computer already has Bluetooth capabilities.
If you have a laptop made within the last 10 years, or a desktop with a built-in Wi-Fi card, chances are, your computer may already have support for Bluetooth connectivity.
Option 1: Check in the Settings App
To see if you have Bluetooth, the first place you can check is on the Settings app. First, open up the Settings app (Windows key + I). Then click on Devices.
If your computer has Bluetooth connectivity, then you’ll see a Bluetooth toggle, as well as More Bluetooth options and Send or receive files via Bluetooth on the right side under Related settings.
Option 2: Check in Device Manager
If you don’t see a Bluetooth adapter in the Settings app, you might want to check the device manager. To do so, first right-click on the Start menu. In the context menu that comes up, find and click on Device Manager.
In the Device Manager, check the list for Bluetooth.
If you don’t see one, it is possible that it could be hidden. To show hidden items, click on View at the top of the window, and click Show hidden devices.
Finding a Bluetooth Adapter
Finding a Bluetooth adapter is simple enough, but remember that not all Bluetooth adapters are created equally. For example, despite the fact that the latest generation of Bluetooth, Bluetooth 5.2, rolled out in 2020, there are still plenty of Bluetooth 4.0 adapters floating around on the market.
For most people, this probably isn’t a huge deal. But Bluetooth 5.0 and up offer some advantages over the older Bluetooth 4.0 standard. Namely, longer range, lower power consumption, and better reliability.
Ultimately, the decision over which Bluetooth adapter you choose depends on your budget and your needs. If you’re looking to use Bluetooth headphones to listen to music while you clean your house, maybe you might consider getting a Bluetooth 5.0 adapter with an antenna for better range. Or, if you want to add Wi-Fi capabilities to your desktop PC, you might get a PCIe Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo card.
How to Install the Bluetooth Adapter
Installing a Bluetooth adapter in your PC is pretty straightforward. If you’re using a USB Bluetooth adapter, then all you’ll need to do is slide the adapter into an open USB port on your computer.
If you’re installing a PCIe Bluetooth card, things are a little trickier (but not too hard). Just turn off your computer, open it up, find an open PCIe slot on your motherboard, and slide the card into place. Then turn your computer back on, and you should be ready to use it.