How to Reset the Bluetooth Hardware Module on Mac OS X to Troubleshoot Challenging Bluetooth Issues
Bluetooth allows wireless devices like keyboards, mouse, speakers, trackpads to be used with the Mac, and while they usually work just fine, sometimes specific Bluetooth difficulties can arise and be very frustrating to troubleshoot. Maybe it’s a persistently disconnecting device, maybe it’s a device that refuses to acknowledge a specific Mac or vice versa. Sometimes disconnecting and reconnecting with new batteries or trashing the Bluetooth preferences and an SMC reset is enough to resolve the problem, but other times issues still persist. Rather than giving up, another approach for troubleshooting particularly stubborn Bluetooth problems is to reset the Macs Bluetooth module using a little known debug menu option.
Access the Hidden Bluetooth Debug Menu in Mac OS X for Hardware Module Reset
Keep in mind this is going to disconnect every Bluetooth device on the Mac, so if you only have a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse you’re going to temporarily lose the ability to use those devices as the Bluetooth hardware module is reset.
- From the OS X desktop, hold down the Shift+Option keys and then click on the Bluetooth menu item to reveal the hidden Debug menu
- Select “Reset the Bluetooth module” from the Debug menu list
- When finished resetting, reboot the Mac as usual and go through the process of connecting the Bluetooth device(s) to the Mac as you typically would, everything should now work fine
You’ll notice there are several other options available in the Bluetooth Debug menu, including logging options, the ability to factory reset all BT connected Apple devices, and the ability to remove all BT connected items in one fell swoop, those options can be useful for other scenarios, but for troubleshooting purposes the reset seems to be most valuable.
Keep in mind that if a Bluetooth device is too far away form the Mac it may also have problems connecting to the computer as well, you can monitor connection strength of Bluetooth devices with this trick if you’re uncertain about signal quality.
This should not need to be done often since Bluetooth is typically pretty reliable on the Mac, but I had to reset Bluetooth on a MacBook Pro recently after using a PS4 controller with the Mac and later trying to add a similar PS3 controller which was refusing to be discovered by the Mac. The reset trick worked and now both gaming controllers work with the Mac as expected.
This debug and reset options appear to be available only to the latest versions of OS X, but if you find it working in something prior to El Capitan let us know in the comments.