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How to pair Bose Bluetooth headphones to any device

Skip the pairing frustration like you would a bad '90s pop ballad: Here's how to successfully pair your Bose headphones with everything from an iPhone to a Windows PC.
Written by Christina Darby, Associate Editor
Reviewed by Kelsey Adams
Musician wearing Bose 700 Headphones Wireless in subway
Bose

A new pair of Bose headphones comes with the promise of blocking the world out and tuning into your favorite music, podcast, or audiobook. 

I can personally say that Bose makes listening easy, but the pairing and connecting process is a little less so. 

To avoid pairing frustration and skip straight to the sound, we broke down the easiest ways to pair your Bose headphones with whichever device you desire. 

Also: The best noise-canceling earbuds

Let's get into it. 

How to put Bose headphones in pairing mode

1. Make sure your device's Bluetooth function is turned on

So that your device can recognize your Bose headphones, go to your device's settings – usually indicated by a gear icon – and make sure that the Bluetooth function is toggled on.

2. Locate and press the pairing button

The key to activating your Bose's pairing mode is a small switch or button the same color as the hardware. 

Over-ear models, like the QuietComfort 45s, will have a switch on the ear cuff. Slide the switch to the "on" position until a blue light starts pulsing blue. 

For earbuds, like the QuietComfort II earbuds, the button is located on the back of the case. Press down on the button for about 2 seconds. Release the button when you see a slow blinking blue light. 

On both in-ear and on-ear models, the blue light signals that you've activated the Bose's Bluetooth capability and your headphones are ready to pair.

If the buds are in your ears already, you'll also hear a voice saying, "Ready to pair."

After pressing the button on the back of my QuietComfort II buds charging case for a few seconds, the light will slowly pulse blue, showing the buds are ready to connect to my device. 

Christina Darby/ZDNET

3. Select the headphones from the Bluetooth device list

After the light starts blinking, release the button and look at the Bluetooth device menu in your phone, tablet, or computer's settings or in the Bose Music app. Your Bose headphones will appear as a connectivity option in the Bluetooth device menu. 

Tap on the Bose option and place the headphones on or in your ears. 

Next, don't be startled like a certain ZDNET editor was the first time she paired her Bose headphones. To signal connectivity, the earbuds will project a whooshing sound followed by a robotic voice notifying you of a successful connection and updated battery level. 

Luckily, the robot voice doesn't signal a Terminator-style takeover (yet), just the go-ahead that your headphones are connected and ready for listening.

How to pair Bose headphones to an iPhone

1. Activate your phone's Bluetooth connectivity

To make sure your iPhone's Bluetooth settings are on, go to your Settings (gear icon), select the Bluetooth option, and make sure the Bluetooth switch at the top is toggled on (it shows up as green). 

You can also swipe down from the upper-right corner of the home screen and tap the Bluetooth toggle on for quick access.

To quickly make sure your Bluetooth is on, swipe down on the upper right corner of your iOS device home screen and select the Bluetooth quick toggle.

Christina Darby/ZDNET

2. Put the headphones in pairing mode

Either press and hold the button on your Bose earbuds' case or slide the button on the cuff of over-ear headphones. Wait for the blinking blue light to flash and release the button. 

3. Select from the Bluetooth device menu

The Bose headphones will appear as a device connection option in the Bluetooth menu. Put the earbuds in your ears or slip on the over-ear cans and select the Bose device. You may have to wait while the phone buffers, but a robotic voice will tell you that "Connection was successful" and give a battery percentage update once pairing is complete.

The same process applies for connecting to an iPad or another iOS device.

Screenshot of the Bluetooth settings menu on an iPhone with a red arrow pointing to a device to connect to: the Bose QC Buds II

Under the "Other devices" option in the iPhone Bluetooth menu, you'll see your Bose headphones pop up. Tap on the name to finish the connection process. 

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

How to pair Bose headphones to a Mac

1. Turn Bluetooth on in System Preferences

The process of pairing Bose headphones to a Mac is fairly intuitive. In your Mac dock, select the System Preferences icon (gear). From here, select the Bluetooth option and make sure that the Bluetooth settings are on, so your headphones can recognize your computer as a connection point.

A red circle indicating where to find the Bluetooth icon in Mac's System preferences.
Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

2. Select your Bose headphones from the Bluetooth menu

Keep the Bluetooth settings open as you pair your headphones by pressing and holding the connection button on earbuds or by switching the Bluetooth toggle on your over-ear cans until you see the blue light. 

Your Mac will recognize your headphones and the name of your Bose device will pop up as a device option. Put the headphones in or on your ears and select the Connect button. 

Also: How to quickly connect your laptop to a TV

Upon a successful connection, you'll hear a robotic voice telling you connection was successful, and all the listening awaits.

A MacBook's Bluetooth settings menu with red arrows pointing to the Bluetooth connectivity option and the headphones connection button.

To connect Bose headphones to a Mac, make sure Bluetooth is on and press the Connect button next to the name of your device. 

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

How to pair Bose headphones to an Android device

1. Open settings and check Bluetooth connection

On your Android device, swipe down on the home screen and select the gear icon in the top right corner. From there, select the Connections option and make sure the Bluetooth switch (third option down) is toggled on. 

You can also swipe down on the home screen twice and tap the Bluetooth quick toggle.

Screenshot of a Galaxy Z Flip 4 settings menu with red circles outlining the gear and Bluetooth icons.

To get to the full Bluetooth menu, select the gear icon in the upper right corner. If you just want to make sure Bluetooth is on, look at the widget in the quick settings interface. 

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

2. Pair your Bose headphones

Select the Bluetooth option from the Connectivity menu. Then, press or slide the Bose connectivity button until you see the blue light start to blink. It may take a few seconds, but you'll eventually see the name of your Bose headphones pop up under the "Available devices" menu. 

Select your headphones, pressing the Pair button when your Android phone prompts you. 

Put your headphones in or over your ears to hear a connectivity chime and your headphones' battery percentage. 

Bluetooth menu of a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 with a red circle around the "Pair" prompt.

To finish the connection process, select the Pair button when prompted by your Android phone. 

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

How to pair Bose headphones to a PC

1. Toggle on Bluetooth settings

Find your settings menu on your PC, often located in the dock. Make sure the Bluetooth setting is toggled on, so your headphones can easily pair. 

2. Put the Bose headphones in pairing mode

As with connecting the headphones to the other devices, press or switch on the connectivity button until it starts to blink blue.

3. Add device and pair

Under the Bluetooth menu, select "Add device" or your PC's equivalent invitation to connect a new device. Follow the connection prompt or prompts until you hear, "Connected." 

Screenshot of a Bluetooth settings on a PC with red indicators signaling key connection points.
Screenshot by Addison Murray/ZDNET

How to pair Bose headphones using the Bose Music App

1. Download the app

Available from both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store, the Bose Music app is a control hub for your Bose devices. The app allows you to create a fun nickname for your headphones like "Earphoria," adjust the EQ, and quickly pair them. 

Download the app to your iOS or Android device and set up an account.

Select the headphones and frames option

Once you've created an account, select the option to "Set Up New Product." From there, choose the "Headphones and Frames" option from the setup menu.

Screenshot of the Bose Music App, inviting a user to set up a new product. A red arrow is pointing to the Headphones and Frames option.

The Bose Music app is an easy way to connect and control your headphones. When setting up your headphones, make sure to select the app's Headphones and Frames option. 

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

3. Connect

Make sure that your Bose headphones are charged, within range, and in pairing mode -- the blue light is blinking -- and the app will recognize your product, inviting you to connect. 

Select the Connect button and wait a few seconds for the pairing process to complete. 

The app interface will change from a "connecting" screen to a widget displaying your make and model of headphones, their battery percentage, and the device they're connected to. Tap the widget to further adjust the EQ or switch between modes as you listen.

From here, all there's left to do is place the headphones in or on your ears and lock in to the sound.

A picture of two Bose QC II earbuds floating above the black "Connect" button on the Bose Music app. A red arrow is pointing to the Connect button.

Press Connect to add your headphones to the Bose Music app library. 

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

FAQs

Where is the pairing button on Bose headphones?

Sneakily camouflaged in the hardware, the Bose pairing button can be hard to find. For over-ear headphones, the pairing button is actually a switch located on the side of the earcup. For earbuds, the button is located on the back of the charging case. 

What do I do if the Bose App won't connect? 

If your Bose app isn't connecting, here are some quick troubleshooting suggestions:  

  • Clear the Bose Connect app cache
  • Enable location permissions 
  • Check the app for updates 
  • Connect manually through Bluetooth 

Will my Bose headphones automatically connect to my device after I pair them?

Unless you've paired the headphones with multiple devices, your phone should recognize your Bose headphones and automatically connect them once you take the earbuds out of the case or turn the earphones on and place them on your ears.

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