Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Bluetooth 4 Adapters for MacOS (updated January 2023)

Need a Bluetooth 4.0 adapter for an older Mac? Look no further. On this page I’ve listed all those on Amazon.com that are known to work on Mac.

Note: If you’re only needing to stream Audio over Bluetooth, you might want to check out the Bluetooth 5 (audio only) options. See here.

It’s not uncommon for the internal Bluetooth on MacBooks (and even Mac desktops) to have issues. Sometimes this occurs after the computer comes out of sleep, or when connecting/disconnecting a Bluetooth device. It can also occur when you have numerous USB devices plugged in. My MacBookPro periodically loses Bluetooth entirely. Hovering the mouse over the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar will say, “Bluetooth: Not Available”. The Bluetooth options icon completely vanishes from System Preferences. So there’s no way to try turning it off and on. I’ve written a few articles on ways to try and fix these issues. But in many cases it might be a better option to just install a new Bluetooth adapter. If your Mac currently only supports Bluetooth 2.0 or 3.0, the added bonus is you’ll get upgraded to Bluetooth 4.0. It’s more reliable, more energy efficient, has better range, and various other benefits. There’s only two USB micro Bluetooth adapters I know of that reliably support Mac OS.

Best Mac Tips recommends this adapter, or for a less expensive option, try the TP-Link UB400 Bluetooth 4.0 dongle shown further down the page.

Hideez Smart Bluetooth 4.0 Adapter for Mac and Windows

The Hideez Smart Bluetooth 4.0 Adapter for Mac and Windows is one of the few that are MacOS compatible. The product is claimed to be compatible with MacOS 10.7, MacOS 10.8, MacOS 10.9, MacOS 10.10, MacOS 10.11, MacOS 10.12, MacOS 10.13, MacOS 10.14, MacOS 10.15. Basically every version of MacOS since 10.7.

This adapter is very compact, as seen in this photo.

Note: You may need to follow the instructions at the end of this post to get your Mac to use an external adapter.

I see people with Mac Minis are reporting in the Amazon reviews that this adapter works as soon as they plug it in. So chances are you won’t need to make any other changes to your Mac Mini with this USB Bluetooth adapter.

Best Mac Tips recommends this adapter, or for a less expensive option, try the TP-Link UB400 Bluetooth 4.0 dongle shown further down the page.

ADDED JAN 2023

Smart Bluetooth Adapter for Mac and Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP – Hideez Dongle for Desktop, Laptop, Mouse, Keyboard, Headset – Low Energy USB Bluetooth

This is another Mac compatible option from Hideez. The Smart Bluetooth Adapter for Mac and Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP – Hideez Dongle for Desktop, Laptop, Mouse, Keyboard, Headset – Low Energy USB Bluetooth is another option I’ve discovered for you which indicates it is MacOS compatible. The product is claimed to be compatible macOS 10.7 (Lion) and beyond. The full list Hideez state it’s compatible with is: macOS 10.7 (Lion), macOS 10.8 (Mountain Lion) macOS 10.9 (Mavericks), macOS 10.10 (Yosemite) macOS 10.11 (El Capitan) macOS 10.12 (Sierra), 10.13 (High Sierra) macOS 10.14 (Mojave), macOS 10.15 (Catalina) macOS 11 (Big Sur), macOS 12 (Monterey), macOS 13 (Ventura).

I see a five-star review confirming it worked well on a 2008 Mac running El Captain (macOS 10.11)

Note: You may need to follow the instructions at the end of this post to get your Mac to use an external adapter.

This is usually around the same cheap price as the other Hideez adapter (above). So take your pick. The other one looks slightly more compact in size.

ASUS USB-BT500 Bluetooth 5.0 USB Adapter

This is a Bluethooth 5 dongle. It was mentioned in the comments to this article that the ASUS USB-BT500 Bluetooth 5.0 USB Adapter worked well on a new (2021) Mac Mini. I am still finding out whether that was an M1 or Intel Mac Mini. But I assume it’s running Big Sur (macOS 11.x), which would suggest the ASUS USB-BT500 Bluetooth 5.0 USB Adapter is compatible with Big Sur. This adapter gets a high rating on Amazon. But there’s little mention of its use on Mac.

I’ll post more info here once I know more.

The others I’ve listed on this page, this adapter is very compact, as seen in this photo.

Note: You may need to follow the instructions at the end of this post to get your Mac to use an external adapter.

Best Mac Tips doesn’t recommend this adapter until more reports come in regarding Mac compatability.

Best-Mac-Tips recommends this adapter or the Hideez Smart Bluetooth 4.0 Adapter for Mac and Windows (the first adapter in this article, above)

BEST PRICE! — The TP-Link UB400 Bluetooth 4.0 dongle works on Mac computers (A LITTLE KNOWN SECRET)

TP-Link USB Bluetooth Adapter for PC(UB400), 4.0 Bluetooth Dongle Receiver is the best priced quality brand bluetooth dongle on Amazon. TP Link states it only works on Windows. But, here’s the secret — it also works on Mac. In the reviews and elsewhere I searched online, people have stated it works in these situations (and likely many that are similar):

  • Apple Macbook Pro Mid-2012 running macOS Catalina 10.15.7
  • Works on old Macs like 2002 PowerMac G4 MDD
  • Working on latest MacOS Catalina on an older MacBook Pro
  • Tested on macOS 10.15.2 and 10.15.4 beta (works)
  • Works on macbook pro early 2011 (High Sierra)
  • Works on macOS 10.15.5

One thing I did note is a few people said it had issues (like stuttering audio) when used on USB 3.x ports. That it needs to be used in a USB 2.0 port. Keep that in mind.

This adapter is typically selling for under US$10. So it’s a very affordable option.

(Added to this page May 29, 2021)

Avantree DG80 Bluetooth 5.0 USB Audio Adapter (Audio Only)

This adapter, Avantree DG80 Bluetooth 5.0 USB Audio Adapter (Audio Only) claims to work on Mac. But there’s currently no reviews stating this, nor any Questions & Answers where this is discussed. Also it only works for audio devices (no mice or keyboards, for example). So it’s good only for Bluetooth headsets and speakers.

Note: You may need to follow the instructions at the end of this post to get your Mac to use an external adapter.

Best-Mac-Tips does NOT recommend buying this Bluetooth adapter.

Avantree DG40S USB Bluetooth Adapter

The manufacturer of this adapter expressly states it is not Mac compatible. It’s called, Avantree DG40S USB Bluetooth Adapter, and it’s available on Amazon. I have, however, seen numerous people reporting online that it worked on their Mac, and there’s also people saying the same in the Amazon reviews. So try this option at your own risk. I’d suggest searching online to see if you can find anyone with your particular Mac computer saying it worked.

Note: You may need to follow the instructions at the end of this post to get your Mac to use an external adapter.

How to make your Mac use an external Bluetooth adapter

Because your Mac still has its internal Bluetooth adapter, you’ll need to make it switch over to the external USB Bluetooth adapter. There’s a couple of ways to do that.

One involves using software called Bluetooth Explorer (BTE). Apparently it works with numerous other adapters or dongles. For most users it’s going to seem rather complicated getting Bluetooth Explorer onto their system. It comes as part of Apple Xcode, which you need to set up an Apple Developer account to access. What’s more, you will need to use BTE to perform the handover to your external BT adapter every time you restart your computer. That’s not my cup of tea, but if you want to go down that path there’s a great article here that explains how to do it.

Another option is to apply the following command in Terminal.app:

sudo nvram bluetoothHostControllerSwitchBehavior=always

It will prompt you for your password. Enter that. Then restart the computer. Under most circumstances it will remain active after restarts, although I seem some people reporting online that sometimes it does not (perhaps after a failed shutdown or system crash).

To undo this change use the following command in the Terminal.app:

sudo nvram -d bluetoothHostControllerSwitchBehavior

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17 Comments

  1. Nice information…thanks! We are having a new Dolby Atmos A/V receiver installed in a closet off our living room along with our Roku and new Mac Mini. We use the Mac Mini tied to the HDTV to play movies, TV serials, etc. on a daily basis and there’s no problem when the equipment is all within 15′ directly in front of us. The problem is that the Apple bluetooth keyboard and new magic trackpad only work line-of-sight and about 15′ away, so if the Mac is moved into the closet 20′ away, the keyboard/trackpad will sadly not not connect to the Mac. So far the only thing I’ve found that “may” work is an ASUS USB-BT500 Bluetooth 5.0 USB Adapter:
    https://amzn.to/3hC8NHQ

    I need a much stronger Bluetooth signal and I guess we’ll see next week when the installer comes.

    • Thanks for the tip Gar. Yes, some bluetooth dongles seem to have pretty poor range. I suspect that’s often the case with these tiny little mini dongles we’re dealing with here. I believe Bluetooth 5 has better range over older version, as v4 does over v3, etc.
      So you had no issues getting this dongle (https://amzn.to/3hC8NHQ) working on your Mac Mini? Is that the M1 Mac Mini, or the Intel version?

  2. As the Hideez dongle was not readily available, i went for a Sandberg Bluetooth dongle, which works fine for me and has extended the lifetime of my old Mac a bit 🙂

    Before that, I tried a no-name dongle, which claimed to work. Using the command above, it connected with my Mac, but I was unable to connect to any peripherals. But Mr Sandberg did the trick 😀

    • Thanks for the comment. Is this the Sandberg Bluetooth dongle you’re referring to? https://amzn.to/3oqEc1j
      Seems it also has poor availability at the moment. But perhaps you mean another one? Let me know, as I may add it to this article.

  3. I just purchased the ASUS USB-BT500 Bluetooth 5.0 USB Adapter and can confirm it indeed works on a 2020 MacBook Pro 13 inch running macOS Big Sur 11.5.2. Using it to pass through to a Virtual Box.

  4. I just purchase the TP-link UB400 USB adapter for my Power Mac G4 (PowerMac3.6) and the adapter worked perfectly. I plugged the UB400 into the USB port in the back of my G4 MDD and MacOS 10.4 recognized the UB400 immediately. I then connected to my Apple mouse and Apple keyboard using the Bluetooth app inside the System Preferences window with no problems.

  5. Tried TP Link UB400 on iMac 2009 and although it was recognized by the OS (High Sierra) it didn’t connect with anything I tested

    • Darn. Sorry to hear that. It’s got me wondering whether the device is faulty, or simply isn’t able to work as needed. The fact macOS recognised it, yet it doesn’t connect to devices, seems a bit odd. Did you find one that did work?

  6. I bought the TP Link because of this article as I was looking to upgrade my Mac Pro 2009 Bluetooth (D-Link DPT-120) form version 1.1 to Bluetooth 4.0 (I was hoping for 5.0 but it did not seem possible) that would work with wireless headphones for smooth no delay playback of sound and for FaceTime calls. I took a chance on this after getting ripped off in a local store buying a $35.00 Gator USB Bluetooth The Mac Rep said would be perfect, that does not work on Mac at all and they would not give a refund as they said it was on “sale”. After a fair amount of money and time wasted at that computer store… I thought I would try the TP Link form this article even though it did not list compatibility with MacOS 10.13. I am happy to report that even though it says PC only, it does in fact work on my Mac Pro 2009 running 10.13.6 and it preforms great. Occasionally I have to disconnect and reconnect the headset (only rarely), but other than that it has been $10 well spent and a great source of anger at my self for trusting a young adult who claimed to be a Mac Expert in my local computer store. thanks for the great info and suggestions.

    • I wanted to add that it has worked flawlessly with my Magic Mouse and wireless keyboard, not single hiccup. This has been a great purchase, my only regret was that I did not find this article before going local and getting ripped off.

    • Hi Okamiotoko, thanks so much for sharing your positive experience. I’m really glad to hear the DPT-120 dongle worked for you. And I appreciate you letting me know. I wish you all the best.

  7. Hi There,

    Trust me when I say this I M from INDIA and I have tried everything regarding BLUETOOTH issue in my old 13 inc Mackbook AIR 2016 Model 13th Inch , as per I have purchased TP LINK (TP-Link USB Bluetooth Adapter for PC(UB400), 4.0 Bluetooth Dongle Receiver) and after doing your TERMINAL link troubleshoot , I CAN SAY Proudly that “IT WORKED” and now I M able to connect my Airpods 2nd gen + Airpod Pro.

    THANK YOU. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

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