How to Unforget a Bluetooth Device on Mac

It never fails. I get a new Bluetooth device and get everything set up perfectly, but then, as soon as I get comfortable, I start having connection issues. It always seems so random – the device disappears, it just won’t connect, or some combination of both.

I love my Bluetooth speakers, so I decided to scour the internet once and for all to figure out how to solve Bluetooth issues on Mac.

How to Unforget a Bluetooth Device on Mac

 When you manually forget a device, Mac erases all the data about how to connect the device. To reconnect it, follow the steps you did to connect it for the first time. If your Mac forgot automatically, try running an SMC or PRAM reset, then pair the device.

Most of the time it’s relatively simple to reconnect the device. Simply ensure Bluetooth is turned on in your Mac, set the device to pairing mode, and select it when it pops up on your Mac’s Bluetooth menu.

Once the device has been paired again, your Mac will recreate all the information and permissions that it needs to be able to connect automatically afterward.

This information is typically stored in what’s called the Bluetooth Preferences List, a file labeled “Bluetooth.plist” on your Apple computer.

When this file is up to date with the information it needs, it can create quick and automatic connections to all the devices it has permissions for, but when a device is forgotten, it loses these data and permissions so needs to be updated again.

If for whatever reason, your device won’t connect using the Bluetooth menu, or the device disappears without you telling it to be forgotten, you likely have a deeper issue that needs to be troubleshot.

This is where the SMC and PRAM resets  can help.

The system management controller (SMC) and the parameter random access memory (PRAM) store and manage the information and processes for several essential hardware on your Mac. This includes the trackpad, keyboard, power supply, fans, webcam, WIFI, and yes, –Bluetooth connectivity.

A quick reset of the SMC and PRAM can solve many issues, and the process is quite simple. Once complete, it’s likely that you will be able to connect all your devices again (manually, the first time) and the issue is resolved.

However, the truth is, when it comes to pairing, repairing, and maintaining a good connection on your Bluetooth device whether it’s new or forgotten, each device is different. If you cannot pair the device as you did before it was forgotten and the tech is still giving you the blues, or you just want to optimize, there is more you can do to “unforget” your device and make your life in the world of Bluetooth that much simpler.

How to Easily Find Bluetooth Menu and Device Pairing Statuses

The first and most helpful step when “unforgetting” devices, is to be sure you have an easy way to check when and whether the device is paired or not.

You can always access your Bluetooth menu by navigating to ‘System Preferences’ and finding the ‘Bluetooth’ Menu.

However, you can also add a Bluetooth icon to your top menu bar if you haven’t already. While you are in System Preferences > Bluetooth, simply check the bow beside ‘Show Bluetooth in Menu Bar’.

Once you’ve done this, you can see a little greyed-out Bluetooth icon (if Bluetooth is off) near the clock and battery status icons. If Bluetooth is on, it will be black, and if there is a device paired actively, the icon will be grey with three black dots going through it. You can also click on the icon for more information about what device is paired, what devices are visible, and as a shortcut to the Bluetooth menu in System Preferences.

How to Reset Your Bluetooth Module

If you tried an SMC and PRAM reset, and you are still having issues like the device won’t pair, Bluetooth won’t turn on, or something similar, you can try resetting the Bluetooth module.

This step is usually unnecessary, especially if you manually told the computer to forget your device, but if the disconnect and forget happened without your asking – the Bluetooth module could be the issue.

Please note: This will remove ALL your pre-configured devices in the process, even the ones that were not forgotten! If the devices have already been forgotten, however, there’s no real need to fear. You will simply have to re-pair them to the Mac manually the first time to update the .plist file again. Then everything will be automatic.

To reset your Bluetooth Module, you must perform a little trick to get debug options visible.

Hold down the Shift and Option keys together and click on the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar.

Just like before, additional options will appear, but this time, you should have an extra option named Debug. First, go ahead and remove all devices by clicking Debug > Remove all devices.

Then, hold Shift and Option again and navigate to Debug > Reset the Bluetooth Module and click.

Now you can try pairing your device manually through the menu again.

How to Recreate the Bluetooth Preferences File

Another possibility that would make unforgetting your device impossible is if the Bluetooth Preference List is corrupted. Since this file (Bluetooth.plist) stores all the devices’ information and their pairing states, if it gets corrupted, you will need to remove and recreate the file, then try reconnecting your devices.

You can shortcut this process if you’re comfortable using the Terminal. If so, just open a Terminal window and type “sudo rm -R /Library/Preferences/” (without the quotes). Enter your password if asked and restart your computer. This will do automatically what we are about to do manually, instead.

If you prefer to navigate using Finder, then manually recreate the preferences list:

To do this, first, turn off Bluetooth in your Mac’s Bluetooth menu. Then find the folder /[Drive]/Library/Preferences. The Drive will be something like Macintosh HD or whatever you changed the name of your startup drive to be.

In this folder, find and drag it to your desktop. (This is a “cheat” way to make a backup before removing the file. If you want to restore the old one, simply move the one from the desktop back to the /Library/Preferences folder.)

Then, in the Finder window, right-click the original copy of the file and move it to the trash. Enter your password if required, then click OK. Finally, restart the computer, and pair your Bluetooth devices like normal.

Your Mac will automatically recreate a brand-new Bluetooth.plist file in the proper folder.

How to Troubleshoot Other Common Bluetooth Issues on Mac

What if you need more ways to troubleshoot Bluetooth connectivity and devices? Below are some of the most overlooked troubleshooting tips when it comes to unforgetting your devices:

• Restart computer and device – Sometimes, this is all it takes! It’s a meme and a cliché, but it does work. Give cutting it off and turning it back on a try – both on your Mac and on your Bluetooth device

• Too many devices connected – Macs supposedly can only support a maximum of 7 devices at a time, but the truth is, sometimes 2 or 3 can feel like a lot if the device uses a lot of data. If you’re having issues connecting a device, try removing or forgetting some that aren’t in use.

• Perform Mac updates – Apple is always making improvements to Bluetooth connectivity software and processes to keep up with the latest technology. It’s possible that updating your computer could be the trick.

• Disable hand-off feature – In some cases, the iCloud hand-off feature could be confusing. Navigate the System Preferences > General and make sure Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices is unchecked.

• Potential interference – Bluetooth operates on the 2.4GHz band and other devices can interfere such as microwaves, baby monitors, WIFI routers, telephones, etc. Also, metal objects can be difficult to transmit Bluetooth through. Make sure these objects aren’t between your device and your Mac for the best connectivity.

• Device battery low – Some Bluetooth devices won’t connect if the battery is low. Try charging your device and connecting when it’s full.

Closing Thoughts

When figuring out the best way to unforget a Bluetooth device on Mac, you have a few options.

Typically, the fix is quite simple, just that your Mac needs permission again to automatically connect the device in the future. But, even in the case that this first (and preferred) method doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean it’s time to throw away the device (or the Mac!) Instead, other quick fixes are quite easy to perform.

And many times, these fixes may even improve the quality of your other devices’ connectivity as well!

Don’t give up – in truth, it really could be as simple as a  low battery .

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