Connecting a Bluetooth speaker to a laptop
It’s no secret that built-in speakers on laptops don’t offer the best listening experience. They lack bass, have poor clarity and generally don’t get very loud. Thankfully, rather than having to suffer through another minute of your music sounding like it is playing through a tin can, you can hook up a Bluetooth speaker to your laptop.
If you have a wireless mouse or keyboard hooked up to your computer, you'll already be familiar with connecting a Bluetooth device. Connecting a Bluetooth speaker follows essentially the same process. If you've never used a wireless device, don't worry. The process is simple and easy.
Before going out and buying a Bluetooth speaker specifically to use with your laptop, you need to make sure your computer supports Bluetooth. Most modern desktops and laptops will, but some older machines as well as some budget business-class models may not.
To check if your computer has Bluetooth, go into the settings and look for a Bluetooth option somewhere. The easiest way to do this is simply to type “Bluetooth” into your computer’s search box. On a Windows 10 device, you can pull this up by pressing the Windows key + S. On a Mac, you press Command + space bar.
If there is no setting for Bluetooth, this means your computer doesn't support it. In this case, you will need to purchase a Bluetooth adapter that plugs into a USB port.
Making your speaker discoverable
The first step in connecting your Bluetooth speaker to your laptop is to make the speaker discoverable. To do this, look for a button with a Bluetooth symbol somewhere on the speaker. This will usually be somewhere on the top, like on the popular JBL Clip 4, or it could be on the side or back. Start by turning the speaker on, and then, depending on the model, either pressing and immediately releasing the Bluetooth button or holding it down for a couple of seconds. A distinctive noise will sound to let you know the speaker is in pairing mode.
Connecting to a Windows laptop
The first step is to make sure your laptop’s Bluetooth is turned on. It should be on by default, but you may want to double-check just to make sure you have not turned it off at some point in the past. You can do this by navigating to your Bluetooth settings.
With the Bluetooth setting of your Windows laptop turned on and your speaker in pairing mode, press the Windows key + K on your keyboard. This will open up a menu on the side of your screen with a list of current and previously paired devices, as well as a list of devices ready to pair. If you successfully made your speaker discoverable, you should find it listed as a device that is ready to pair. Simply select the Bluetooth speaker and it will automatically connect.
Connecting to an Apple laptop
Connecting a Bluetooth speaker to a Apple laptop is an equally simple process as doing it on a Windows device. You can either click on the Bluetooth icon on the menu bar or navigate to the Apple menu and then click the System Preferences icon. Next, click on Bluetooth. If your Bluetooth is turned on, you will see a list of devices to connect to. Select the Bluetooth speaker you intend to pair with and press connect.
Troubleshooting Bluetooth connection problems
If you have followed the above process and your music still isn’t playing through your Bluetooth speaker, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take that might solve the problem. First, check that your Bluetooth speaker is powered on and that your laptop’s Bluetooth setting is turned on. You should also check that your laptop isn’t in airplane mode.
Next, take a look at the speaker’s pairing directions to make sure you have done everything correctly. The process above for making your speaker discoverable is a general guideline, but some devices may have a specific process that differs slightly.
For the best pairing results, your laptop should be within 5 feet of your speaker. If your speaker is further than that, try moving your laptop closer just for the pairing process. Afterward, you can move it back to wherever you had it previously.
If your Bluetooth speaker still isn’t connected to your laptop, try turning the Bluetooth on your computer off and then on again. Then run through the pairing process once more. The last thing to try is powering down both the laptop and the speaker. Then you can turn them both back on and try the pairing process once again.
After trying all of these steps, if you still can’t get your speaker to connect to your laptop, there is a chance one of your devices may be broken. The easiest way to check is to try pairing your Bluetooth speaker with another device. If it works, the problem may be your laptop. If not, and you are sure the issue isn’t a user error, then you can be confident the speaker is the problem.
Brett Dvoretz is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.