How to Unforget a Bluetooth Device on Mac

It never fails to impress. I purchase a new Bluetooth device and proceed to set it up flawlessly, but as soon as I become comfortable with it, I begin to experience connection difficulties. It always seems to happen at random – the device disappears, it simply refuses to connect, or a combination of the two.

As much as I enjoy my Bluetooth speakers, I decided to scour the internet once and for all to find out how to resolve Bluetooth issues on a Mac computer for good.

Instructions on how to unforget a Bluetooth device on a Mac

When you manually forget a device, Mac removes all information about how to connect the device from the system’s memory. If you need to reconnect it, simply repeat the steps you took to connect it the first time. If your Mac forgets to pair the device on its own, try performing an SMC or PRAM reset and then pairing the device again.

The majority of the time, reconnecting the device is a straightforward process. It’s as simple as making sure Bluetooth is enabled on your Mac, setting the device to pairing mode, and selecting it when it appears in the Bluetooth menu on your Mac.

Once the device has been re-paired, your Mac will recreate all of the information and permissions that it requires in order to be able to connect automatically in the following moments.

If you have an Apple computer, this information is typically stored in a file named “Bluetooth.plist,” which is a subdirectory of the “Bluetooth Preferences List” folder.

Because it has all of the information it requires, when this file is up to date with the information it requires, it can create quick and automatic connections to all of the devices for which it has permissions. However, if a device is forgotten, this file loses its data and permissions and must be updated again.

The device will not connect using the Bluetooth menu for whatever reason, and it will also disappear without you having to tell it to be forgotten. This indicates that there is a more serious problem that must be investigated and resolved.

This is where the SMC and PRAM resets can be of assistance to you.

The system management controller (SMC) and the parameter random access memory (PRAM) on your Mac are responsible for storing and managing the information and processes for a number of critical pieces of hardware.

In addition to the trackpad, keyboard, power supply, fans, webcam, WIFI connectivity, and yes, Bluetooth connectivity, this includes the following:

A simple reset of the SMC and PRAM can resolve a variety of issues, and the procedure is straightforward. Once this is completed, it is likely that you will be able to reconnect all of your devices (manually, for the first time) and that the problem will be resolved.

However, the reality is that each Bluetooth device, whether it’s new or old, has its own set of characteristics when it comes to pairing, repairing, and maintaining a good connection with your smartphone.

Even if you are unable to pair the device as you did before it was forgotten, and the technology is still giving you the blues, or if you simply want to optimise your Bluetooth experience, there is more you can do to “unforget” your device and make your life in the Bluetooth world that much easier.

The Best Way to Easily Locate the Bluetooth Menu and the Device Pairing Status

When “unforgetting” devices, the first and most important step is to ensure that you have an easy way to check when and whether the device is paired or not.

You can always get to your Bluetooth settings by going to ‘System Preferences’ and selecting the ‘Bluetooth’ menu option from there.

However, if you haven’t already, you can add a Bluetooth icon to your top menu bar if you don’t already have one. In System Preferences > Bluetooth, simply select the checkbox next to ‘Show Bluetooth in Menu Bar’ while still in the window.

Once you’ve completed this, you’ll notice a small greyed-out Bluetooth icon near the clock and battery status icons (if Bluetooth is turned off). If Bluetooth is enabled, the icon will be black, and if there is a device that is actively paired with the phone, the icon will be grey with three black dots running through the middle of it. 

You can also use the icon to get more information about the device that is paired with your Mac, to see which devices are visible, and to access the Bluetooth menu in System Preferences by pressing the icon.

How to Reset the Bluetooth Module on Your Device

If you’ve tried resetting the SMC and PRAM and are still experiencing problems such as the device not pairing, Bluetooth not turning on, or something similar, you can try resetting the Bluetooth module instead.

Most of the time, this step is unnecessary, especially if you explicitly instructed the computer to forget your device. However, if the disconnect and forget occurred without your permission, the Bluetooth module may be at fault.

Please keep in mind that this will remove ALL of your previously configured devices during the process, even if they were not forgotten. 

If, on the other hand, the devices have already been forgotten, there is no real reason to be concerned. When you first connect them to the Mac, you will simply have to reconnect them manually in order to update the.plist file. Then everything will operate on its own.

You must first perform a small trick in order to make debug options visible before you can reset your Bluetooth Module.

While holding down the Shift and Option keys together, click on the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar to pair your device with your computer.

In the same way as before, additional options will appear, but this time there should be an additional option referred to as Debug. First, remove all devices from the system by selecting Debug > Remove all devices from the menu bar.

Finally, while holding shift and option, navigate to Debug > Reset the Bluetooth Module and press the Reset the Bluetooth Module button.

You can now attempt to pair your device manually through the menu system once more.

How to Restore the Bluetooth Preferences File to Its Original State

Another possibility that would make it impossible to recover your device is if the Bluetooth Preference List was corrupted. Because this file (Bluetooth.plist) contains all of the information about the devices, including their pairing states, if it becomes corrupted, you will need to remove and recreate the file before attempting to reconnect your devices.

It is possible to expedite this process if you are familiar with using the Terminal. If this is the case, simply open a Terminal window and type “sudo rm -R /Library/Preferences/” (without the quotes) (without the quotes).

If prompted, enter your password and then restart your computer. Instead of doing what we are about to do manually, this will do it for us automatically.

To navigate using the Finder, you must first manually create the preferences list as shown below:

To accomplish this, first go to your Mac’s Bluetooth menu and turn off Bluetooth. Then locate the folder /[Drive]/Library/Preferences on your computer. The Drive will be named something like Macintosh HD or whatever you named your startup drive when you first booted up your computer.

Locate the file list within this folder and drag it to your desktop. (This is a “cheat” method of creating a backup before removing the file. (If you want to revert back to the previous version, simply drag the file from your desktop back to the /Library/Preferences folder.

In the Finder window, right-click and drag the original copy of the file to the Trash icon to remove it from the system. If you are prompted for a password, type it in and click OK. Final step: Restart your computer and pair your Bluetooth devices as you normally would.

Your Mac will automatically create a completely new Bluetooth connection. Place the plist file in the appropriate folder.

Using the Mac, you can troubleshoot other common Bluetooth issues.

What happens if you require additional methods of troubleshooting Bluetooth connectivity and devices? When it comes to unforgetting your devices, the following are some of the most overlooked troubleshooting tips to try:

  • Restart the computer and the device – This is sometimes all that is required! It’s a meme and a cliche, but it’s effective nonetheless. Give it a shot – both on your Mac and on your Bluetooth device – by turning it off and then back on.
  • Having too many devices connected – Although Macs are only capable of supporting a maximum of seven devices at a time, the truth is that two or three devices can feel like a lot if the device consumes a lot of data. If you’re having trouble connecting a device, try removing or forgetting any that aren’t currently in use to see if that helps.
  • In order to stay on top of the latest technology, Apple is constantly making improvements to the Bluetooth connectivity software and processes on Mac computers. It’s possible that simply updating your computer will solve the problem for you.
  • Turn off the iCloud hand-off feature – The iCloud hand-off feature can be confusing in some situations. Make sure that Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices is unchecked in the System Preferences > General section of the menu bar.
  •  Interference – Bluetooth operates on the 2.4GHz frequency band, and other devices such as microwaves, baby monitors, WIFI routers, telephones, and other similar devices can cause interference. Additionally, metal objects can make it difficult to transmit Bluetooth signals through them. Make sure that none of these objects are in the way of your device and your Mac in order to achieve the best connectivity.
  • Low battery on the device – Some Bluetooth devices will not connect if the battery is running low. Alternatively, try charging your device and reconnecting when it’s fully charged.

Lastly, some final thoughts

When determining the most effective method of unforgetting a Bluetooth device on a Mac, you have a few options.

Typically, the solution is straightforward; all that is required is that your Mac be granted permission to automatically connect the device in the future. However, even if the first (and preferred) method fails, this does not imply that the device (or the Mac!) should be discarded. Other quick fixes, on the other hand, are relatively simple to carry out.

Many times, these fixes will also improve the overall quality of your other devices’ connectivity as a result of the changes made.

Don’t give up – in reality, it could be as simple as a low battery that is causing the problem.


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