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How to connect Bluetooth headphones to a Mac

Videoconferencing has become a new norm in the workplace, but there's nothing more awkward than your meeting blasting throughout a quiet office because your headphones won't connect. Here's an easy three-step solution.
Written by Christina Darby, Associate Editor
Working from home wearing headphones

Whether you're returning to a crowded office or one of many working from home, your Bluetooth headphones are probably among your desk essentials -- and your most reliable microphone. 

With virtual conference calls or quick Slack huddles most likely being a constant in your daily routine, headphones aren't just a way to block out the world, but a way to plug in to your work environment. 

While pairing Bluetooth earbuds with a smartphone is fairly intuitive, connecting them to a Mac is slightly less so. To avoid blasting your meeting through a quiet office or disrupting your partner's work-from-home oasis, here's how to quickly pair Bluetooth headphones with your Mac. 

Also: 30-plus Black Friday headphone deals: AirPods, Beats, Bose, and Sony on sale

How to connect your Bluetooth headphones to your Mac

Whether you have a MacBook or a desktop Mac computer, these steps will help you to connect your Bluetooth headphones. 

1. Go to Apple's System Preferences

First, leave your headphones to the side. We'll get to those in a moment. In the upper left-hand corner of your Mac, select the Apple icon, and select the System Preferences option from the dropdown menu. 

Mac system preferences
Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

2. Open the Bluetooth menu

In the System Preferences menu options, select or search for Bluetooth.

Review:  $149 earbuds solved my biggest problem with AirPods

System Preferences menu on a Mac
Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

3. Pair your headphones

Once the Bluetooth option expands, you'll see a sidebar that displays any current devices connected via Bluetooth. If you haven't connected any devices before, the box will be empty. 

Now it's time to get your headset involved. Depending on the make and model, there will be a pairing button on either the charging case, usually the situation for earbuds, or on the Bluetooth headphones themselves. If you don't know where the pairing button is, do a quick Google search or look in the manual if you still have it.

Press down on the button until you see the name of your device pop up in the box to the right. Once you see your device's name, Christina's AirPods, for example, toggle the "Connect" option. 

From there, you'll be connected and good to go! No more having private meetings with your boss on speaker for the whole office to hear.

Pairing your earbuds with your Mac
Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

Also: 15+ Black Friday deals on AirPods: Save on AirPods Pro and Max


Why are my Bluetooth headphones not connecting to my Mac? 

If your Bluetooth headphones aren't connecting, make sure that your headset or your buds are charged, powered on, and within range. If they're still not connecting, try turning your Mac on and off and seeing if you need to do any software updates, such as drivers. 

Can I have two pairs of Bluetooth headphones connected to a Mac at once? 

Yes, it is possible to connect two devices at once. But you will have to go to Applications > Utilities folder > the AUDIO MIIDI app

Can you connect Bluetooth earbuds to a Mac that aren't AirPods?

Yes, you can. Just make sure to connect them via the Bluetooth setting via your Mac's system preferences. 

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