How to Troubleshoot Bluetooth Issues on Windows

Windows Logo

Bluetooth gives you the freedom to move without a tether, but it isn’t always the most reliable way to use wireless devices. If you’re having trouble with Bluetooth on your Windows machine, you can follow the steps below to troubleshoot it.

Basic Bluetooth Troubleshooting Steps

While many of these steps might seem obvious, they will fix many of the most common Bluetooth issues on Windows.

Check That Bluetooth Is Turned On

Start by making sure Bluetooth is actually enabled on your Windows PC. Just because the symbol is in the taskbar doesn’t mean your Bluetooth radio is actually turned on.

To check it, click the Windows notification icon on your taskbar in the bottom-right corner of your screen. If you don’t see a “Bluetooth” tile, click the “Expand” button. If the “Bluetooth” tile is grayed-out, your Bluetooth radio is turned off.

Click it to turn it back on—the tile will turn blue to show the change.

Click the "Bluetooth" tile.

You can also head to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth and Other Devices and toggle the “Bluetooth” switch until it turns blue.

Restart Your Bluetooth Radio

If Bluetooth is enabled, switching it off and on again might resolve some underlying issues of which you’re unaware.

To do this, click the notification icon in your Windows taskbar to access your quick settings. Click the “Bluetooth” tile to turn it off. Once it goes gray, click it again to turn it back on.

Click the "Bluetooth" tile to turn it off and on again.

When the tile turns blue, your Bluetooth radio is back on, and ready to use.

Check the Battery

If you aren’t keeping track of the battery level on your Bluetooth device, you might not even be aware when it runs out of power.

Before you try a more serious solution, you might want to replace the batteries in your Bluetooth device or charge it, and then try it again.

Restart Your PC

The best fixes are sometimes the easiest, and if you haven’t tried it already, give your PC a quick restart.

The "Update and Restart" option in the Windows 10 Start menu.

When you reboot your PC, you wipe the slate clean, and clear out any idle processes or memory leaks. It’s not a miracle fix, but it can rectify some issues with the hardware, so give it a go.

Check Bluetooth Interference and Device Distance

Bluetooth devices communicate wirelessly via radio waves. Just like a Wi-Fi network, interference can affect Bluetooth connections. Other radio signals, physical obstacles (like thick walls), and devices like microwaves can all block or degrade a Bluetooth connection.

Take a moment to survey the area. How far away is your Bluetooth device from your PC? The bigger the distance, the weaker the signal.

Move your device closer to your PC and see if it impacts the Bluetooth connectivity. If not, try (if possible) to use your Bluetooth device in another location. You can also use third-party apps, like the Bennett Bluetooth Monitor, to check your Bluetooth’s signal strength.

Signal strength for nearby Bluetooth devices in the Bennett Bluetooth Monitor.

If the problem persists, interference might not be the problem. But there are some other potential fixes.

Install or Update Bluetooth Device Drivers

Windows 10 automatically installs drivers for devices that connect to it, but only when those drivers are available on your PC or through Windows Update. In most cases, though, Bluetooth devices (especially keyboards and mice) should work fine right out of the box.

If Windows can’t find the correct drivers for your Bluetooth device, however, it won’t work. If this happens, check the device manufacturer’s website to see if it offers a driver for your device. If so, download and install it, and that should resolve the problem.

This also applies to the Bluetooth radio itself. If the drivers for your Bluetooth chipset aren’t installed automatically, Bluetooth won’t work on your PC. Visit the PC manufacturer’s website or, if you built the PC yourself, check the motherboard manufacturer’s website for supported drivers.

You might also find that a new Windows update has impacted your device, requiring updated drivers. In most cases, Windows will look for and install updated drivers automatically. If it doesn’t, though, visit the device manufacturer’s website and install the latest drivers.

To see whether your Bluetooth device is installed, you have to check the Windows Device Manager. To do this, right-click the Windows Start button and click “Device Manager.”

Click "Device Manager."

If your Bluetooth device is recognized, it appears under the category relevant to its purpose. For example, a Bluetooth radio would be under the “Bluetooth” category. If the device isn’t recognized, it will be listed under the “Other Devices” category.

When you find it, right-click the device, and then click “Update Driver” to search for a new driver.

Click "Update Driver" in "Device Manager."

Click “Search Automatically for Updated Driver Software” if you want to search for a driver automatically.

If you downloaded the driver from the manufacturer’s website (and it doesn’t include an automatic installer), click “Browse My Computer for Driver Software” and follow the onscreen instructions.

The "How Do You Want to Search for Drivers?" options in Windows 10.

If you clicked “Search Automatically for Updated Driver Software,” Windows will tell you if it thinks you already have the best driver for your device. However, you can also search Windows Update for alternatives.

To do so, just click “Search for Updated Drivers on Windows Update” to proceed.

Click "Search for Updated Drivers on Windows Update."

This opens Windows Update in Settings. Click “Check for Updates” to begin a search.

When (or if) Windows Update finds an updated driver for your device, it will download and install it. When that process is complete, restart your PC, and then try your Bluetooth device again.

Remove and Re-Pair Your Bluetooth Device

Sometimes, removing the Bluetooth device from your PC resolves connection issues. You can then “re-pair” the device with your PC.

To start this process, open the Bluetooth settings in Windows. If the Bluetooth icon is visible in the Windows taskbar, right-click it, and then select “Open Settings.”

Click "Open Settings."

If you don’t see the Bluetooth icon, right-click the Start menu and select “Settings.” From there, click Devices > Bluetooth and Other Devices to access your Bluetooth settings.

Your known Bluetooth devices will be listed here. Select your device, click “Remove Device,” and then click “Yes” to confirm. This removes the device from your PC.

Click "Bluetooth and Other Devices," and then click "Remove Device."

When the process is completed, restart your PC.

After you log back in on your device, head back to the Bluetooth settings. Click “Add Bluetooth or Other Device” at the top. In the “Add a Device” window that appears, click “Bluetooth.”

Wait for your PC to detect the device, and then click it to connect. You might need to type a PIN on one or both devices to allow them to pair.

Use the Windows 10 Troubleshooter

If all else fails, you can also try the Windows Troubleshooter on Windows 10 and see if it can resolve your Bluetooth issues. It checks your Bluetooth radio and device settings step-by-step, and identifies any issues.

If it detects an issue, it will inform you, and either ask you whether you’d like to fix it or direct you on how you can fix the problem yourself.

To run Windows Troubleshooter, right-click the Start menu and select “Settings.”

From there, go to Update and Security > Troubleshoot > Bluetooth, and then click “Run the Troubleshooter.” Windows will automatically begin working through your Bluetooth status and configuration. If it finds a problem, it’ll direct you to fix it.

The Windows Troubleshooter tool, with identified Bluetooth issues detected and fixed.

If the Troubleshooter can’t resolve the problem, you might want to contact the device manufacturer for further support and advice, as the problem might be with the hardware.

How to Fix Your Keyboard Typing Numbers Instead of Letters

Keyboard Mystery Hero Image

You’re typing on your laptop and, suddenly, some of the keys start registering as numbers and symbols instead of letters. What’s going on? Most likely, the answer lies with your Num Lock key. Here’s why—and how to fix it.

What is Num Lock?

Num Lock, short for “number lock,” is a feature of PC keyboards dating back to the very first IBM PC in 1981. To save room on the keyboard, IBM decided to make keys on the numeric keypad do double duty as both number keys and cursor keys. To switch modes between them, IBM introduced the Num Lock key.

Here is an example of a typical numeric keypad location on a desktop keyboard.

Numeric keypad on an IBM Model M Keyboard
Benj Edwards

With Num Lock turned on, the numeric keypad on a desktop PC works like an adding machine keypad with numbers and symbols (such as *, /, and +) that represent mathematical operations. With Num Lock turned off, the keypad registers as cursor keys (like up and down arrow) and some editing keys (such as Home and Insert).

What’s Different About Num Lock on a Laptop?

Most laptops don’t have dedicated numeric keypads, so Num Lock works differently on them. Instead of changing cursor keys into numbers, it converts a section of the QWERTY letters on the keyboard into a virtual numeric keypad.

Here is an example a keyboard made by Acer for a Windows 10 laptop. When you press the Num Lock key (seen here highlit in a red rectangle), 15 of the keys switch modes into a simulated numeric keypad. When you push them, they register as the symbol highlit in the red circle.

Example of num lock keys on a laptop keyboard
Benj Edwards

Your laptop will most likely look different than this, but many manufacturers use some variation of using keys on the right side of the keyboard as a numeric keypad with Num Lock.

As a result, if you hit the Num Lock key by accident on a laptop, you might have a problem that looks like this.

Example of num lock accidentaly turned on with a laptop

In this case, you’re typing numbers instead of letters because the Num Lock key is turned on. Here’s how to turn it off.

How to Turn Off Num Lock on a Laptop

The first step to turning off Num Lock is to find the Num Lock key on your laptop’s keyboard. Its location can vary wildly by laptop manufacturer, but it is usually located in the upper-right corner of the keyboard.

Look for a small key that says some variation of “Num Lock,” “NumLk,” or even a small lock symbol with a number 1 inside.

For example, here is the Num Lock key’s location on an Acer laptop.

An example laptop numlock key
Benj Edwards

In this case, the Num Lock key doubles as the F12 key, and it defaults to being Num Lock.

Some laptops may require you to hold down a Function key (commonly labeled “Fn”) while pushing Num Lock to toggle it on or off.

Also, some laptop keyboards may have an indicator light showing whether Num Lock is turned on or off. For example, this YouTube video shows the location of the Num Lock key and its indicator light on a Sony VAIO notebook keyboard.

[wpcc-iframe title=”YouTube Video” width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/FgpM4sNRNEI?feature=oembed” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen]

Your laptop will vary. If you have trouble locating your Num Lock key, try searching for a combination of your manufacturer name + “laptop” + “numlock key location” on Google, and you might find a websites with instructions specific to your laptop. For example, Google “lenovo laptop numlock key location,” and you will find information about the Num Lock key on various ThinkPad laptops.

Preventing Future Num Lock Accidents

Now that you know about the Num Lock key, you can easily turn it off if you ever accidentally find yourself typing numbers again. If you’d like to receive an audible alert when you push the Num Lock key, follow this guide to make your computer play a sound when you type the Num Lock key, so you’ll know if you pressed it by accident. There’s also a way to see a notification in your Task Bar if you turn on Num Lock.

Good luck, and happy typing!

How to Fix Screen Flickering in Windows 10

Dual monitors in a workspace.
cendhika/Shutterstock.com

Your Windows 10 PC’s screen can flicker for a variety of reasons. If you’re not sure of the exact cause, try these common solutions to troubleshoot and fix the problem, whether you’re using a laptop or a desktop.

Reseat a Loose Monitor Cable

Monitor cables can be loose if they weren’t inserted properly the first time. These loose cables can cause your screen to flicker. They may even loosen over time if they weren’t plugged in securely enough.

To check for this problem, unplug your monitor’s cable and plug it back in securely—from both the back of the monitor and on the PC. Make sure that the cable is fully tightened and that it doesn’t look or feel loose.

This applies to all cable types, which can become loose for various reasons. You don’t necessarily need to find out which cable type you’re using to perform this method.

A hand plugging a display cable into the back of a monitor.
bs studio/Shutterstock.com

Replace Your Monitor Cable

Low-quality display cables are a common cause of monitor flickering problems.

If you discover that the cable is damaged—or if you just have a cheap one—get a high-quality cable and use that with your monitor. By high quality, we mean a cable that either comes from your monitor’s manufacturer or from a third-party manufacturer with good reviews (Most sites, like Amazon, display reviews for each product.).

If you aren’t sure which cable type you need (whether it’s HDMI, DisplayPort, or DVI), check out our HDMI vs. DisplayPort vs. DVI guide, and it’ll help you find your cable type. Then, go to a site like Amazon, search for the type of cable you have (for example, an HDMI cable), and you’ll see many options.

Your monitor’s manual guide also lists the cable types that the monitor supports. More often than not, a monitor supports multiple cable types, which means that if your current cable is an HDMI cable, your next could be a DisplayPort cable. They all work pretty much the same.

Just make sure that your PC supports the cable type that you’re getting for your monitor (Your PC’s back should have the cable type name beneath each port.).

That will fix all your cable-related issues, screen flickering among them (That is, if the issue was caused by the cable.).

Uninstall Problematic Apps

Apps can also cause your Windows 10 PC’s screen to flicker. For instance, in the past, some Norton products caused screen flickering issues on Windows 10 PCs.

Unless you know exactly which app is causing the issue (in which case, you should uninstall that app using the steps listed below), you need to identify the problematic app first. One way to do this is to find out when your screen started to flicker.

If your issue started occurring after you installed a particular app, then that app might be the culprit. In this case, check the app’s official site and see whether a newer version is available. If there is, install that version, and your issue will likely be fixed.

If a newer version is not available, you should remove the app from your PC for the time being. You might have to rely on an alternative app until the app developer fixes the issue.

To begin removing the faulty app, open “Settings” by pressing Windows+i.

Click “Apps” in the Settings window.

Settings app interface

Here, scroll down the right pane and find the problematic app. Click the app and select “Uninstall.”

Uninstall option for an app

Select “Uninstall” in the prompt to get rid of the app.

Uninstall prompt for apps

Restart your computer and see whether the problem is gone. In case the issue persists, see the additional fixes below.

Reinstall the Display Drivers

Microsoft says that screen flickering is often caused by display drivers. An easy way to fix this is to reinstall your display drivers.

You just need to remove the drivers from your PC, and your PC will automatically reinstall them from Windows updates.

To reinstall your drivers, Microsoft recommends that you boot your PC into Safe Mode. Do this by opening “Settings” using Windows+i and clicking “Update & Security” in the Settings app.

Settings app interface

In the Settings window, click “Recovery” in the left-hand sidebar. Find Advanced startup on the right and click “Restart now” beneath it.

Recovery menu in Settings

A blue screen with a few options will appear. Click Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart on these screens.

Press “4” on your keyboard to reboot your PC into Safe Mode. When you see the “safe mode” text written on your desktop, that means you’re in Safe Mode.

In Safe Mode, right-click the “Start” menu button and select “Device Manager.”

Start button's context menu

On the Device Manager window, click the arrow next to “Display adapters.” Right-click the adapter that shows up in this expanded menu, then select “Uninstall device.”

Right-click menu for the display adapter

In the Uninstall Device window, enable the “Delete the driver software for this device” option. Next, click “Uninstall.”

Uninstall Device window

Restart your PC.

Launch the “Settings” app and head into Update & Security > Windows Update > Check for updates to install the available updates.

Windows Update menu in Settings

Windows will reinstall your display drivers.

Modify the Monitor’s Refresh Rate

Your monitor’s refresh rate determines how often the content is refreshed on your screen. It might be that a higher refresh rate is selected and your monitor is having trouble refreshing the content at that rate.

To change the refresh rate, open “Settings” by pressing Windows+i, then click “System” in the Settings window.

Settings app screen

Click “Display” in the left-hand sidebar. Scroll down the right pane, and under Multiple displays, click “Advanced display settings.”

Display settings menu in Settings

Locate the “Refresh rate” drop-down menu and click it to select a new refresh rate. Try using a rate that’s lower than the current one, and see whether that stops your screen from flickering.

Advanced display settings menu in Settings


If all of these steps—even getting a better cable—don’t fix your problem, you may be experiencing a hardware issue with your monitor. You might want to contact your monitor company for assistance if your product is still under warranty. The problem could be a hardware failure in your monitor.

In cases like this, it’s often a good idea to seek professional help. A professional might be able to identify the problem, and getting help might be cheaper than having to buy a new monitor—depending on how expensive your monitor is.