Check Bluetooth Signal Strength in Mac OS X
If your Bluetooth device connections seem flakey, or if your Apple wireless keyboard or Magic Mouse isn’t as responsive as you think it should be with your Mac, there are two easy ways to check Bluetooth signal strength in OS X. Using the Bluetooth signal data, you can then make adjustments accordingly to improve the connection, either by reducing obstructions, changing batteries, or limiting interference.
Here’s how you can check Bluetooth signal strength from OS X from the menu item, and from the preference panel:
Checking Bluetooth Signal Strength from the Bluetooth Menu Item in OS X
- Option+Click on the Bluetooth menu bar item, then move the mouse cursor over the Bluetooth item you want to check the signal strength for
- Look for “RSSI:” to see the signal strength
Checking Bluetooth Signal Strength from Mac System Preferences
- Open System Preferences from the Apple menu and click “Bluetooth”
- Press and hold the Option key to reveal signal strength for the device
Understanding RSSI as Bluetooth Signal Strength
The lower the number shown as the signal, the better the connection, just like measuring wireless signals in the hidden awesome OS X Wi-Fi tool. For example, -20 is a much stronger signal than -90, but don’t feel bad if you can’t get a very low signal. In the screenshot above a bluetooth enabled iPhone was right next to a MacBook and got -38.
For input devices in particular, a weak Bluetooth signal can mean less responsive control, and for data devices, a weak signal could mean extremely slow transfer speeds if not failed connections. One very important thing to pay attention to: batteries can directly impact the signal strength of Bluetooth devices, so if your Apple wireless keyboard or magic trackpad is right next to your Mac but the connection strength is terrible, you may want to double-check the batteries and swap them out. Unsurprisingly, having a good set of rechargeables is ideal for Bluetooth users.
You’ll need OS X Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, or El Capitan for this feature to be available, earlier versions do not seem to support RSSI readings from Bluetooth hardware.