eXtensions - Saturday 14 October 2017

System Preferences in macOS, High Sierra: Bluetooth

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By Graham K. Rogers


With the update to the latest version of macOS, High Sierra (10.13), there have been changes to some System Preferences, while others are unchanged. The Bluetooth Preferences panel, which is for setting up and connecting Bluetooth devices, has seen minor changes.

Bluetooth devices exchange data over short distances under standards of the Bluetooth SIG organisation. The Bluetooth standard, originally put forward by Ericsson, later became a standard under IEEE (802.15.1). This is now maintained by the Bluetooth SIG. The name "Bluetooth" was originally the name of a Danish king - Harald Bluetooth Gormsson - who was a uniting force.

The Bluetooth Preferences panel is in two parts. The left side has a logo (itself made up of Harald Bluetooth's initials) and an indication of the On/Off state of the Bluetooth installed on the computer. The logo has a slightly different appearance compared to the one used in Sierra. Below is a button marked "Turn Bluetooth On". When Bluetooth is active, the button changes (Turn Bluetooth Off). Text below indicates that the computer is discoverable by other devices and shows the name that would be used.


The main panel displays names (and icons) for any devices paired with the computer, along with the current state of the connection. When the panel is open and Bluetooth is active, a spinning icon at the top indicates that the computer is searching for compatible devices. Any devices discovered by scanning are shown in the list with a Connect button to the right (previously Pair). Pressing this will initiate pairing: to complete the process, a panel on the target device is displayed to confirm acceptance.

When the cursor is run over a paired device, an X appears to the right (previously, left) so that the device may be removed from the list. When this is pressed a panel asking for confirmation of the deletion appears, adding that "You have to pair this device again if you want to use it later."

Bluetooth menu Below the panel is a checkbox that places a Bluetooth icon in the menu bar. When a device is connected the icon shows 3 dots through the icon. The menu bar icon provides access to a menu with controls (in sub-menus) for connected devices. These differ depending on the device itself. When Bluetooth is off, the icon is greyed out in the menu bar

The menu is in three parts: Bluetooth (On or Off); Devices; and Open Bluetooth Preferences. Despite pairing a Mac, this was not shown in the list of devices in the menu bar. Browse features and file transfers were not shown: these functions are now available using AirDrop.

To the right of the checkbox for the menu bar on the main panel is an "Advanced" button. Pressing this opens a panel with 3 checkboxes. Each item has a text explanation (wording unchanged) below it:

  • Open Bluetooth Setup Assistant at startup if no keyboard is detected;
  • Open Bluetooth Setup Assistant at startup if no mouse or trackpad is detected; and
  • Allow Bluetooth devices to wake this computer.


Bluetooth Setup Assistant is not in the Applications or Utilities folders. This is now in the System folder and operates automatically when a suitable device needs a connection. A panel appears and the user is asked to verify to confirm that pairing is desired.

See Also:

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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