If you’ve used your Bluetooth headphones or speakers with a Windows PC, you know the convenience is addictive, and it’s very difficult to go back to wired headphones. Recent improvements in Bluetooth technology ensure low latency and robust connection range. Sometimes, though, the Windows 11 device refuses to recognize Bluetooth headphones rather than ‘voice’.
Diagnosing and fixing Bluetooth headphone and speaker connectivity issues is straightforward on Windows 11. But before we dive right into troubleshooting remedies, go through the following checklist of basic prerequisites:
- Check that your headphones or speakers are powered on and paired to your Windows 11 machine.
- Make sure Bluetooth is turned on in the Quick settings section on your computer.
- Turn up the volume on your headphones and computer, just in case one of them is muted.
Now that we are sure these basic issues aren’t to blame, let’s try other ways to fix your headphone connectivity issues.
1. Select correct output device
If you have multiple audio devices connected to your PC, it is possible, your headphones aren’t selected for playback. To do that, follow the steps below.
Step 1: Click the Wi-Fi and volume icon in your taskbar to open the Quick Settings panel.
Step 2: Then, click the headphone icon beside the volume slider.
Step 3: In the pop-up menu, choose your Bluetooth headphones as the sound output.
2. Check your device battery level
If your Bluetooth headphones aren’t among the available sound outputs or if the connection drops a few moments after switching the device on, the headphones have likely run out of charge. So, recharge them and retry. If the headphones are charged, but unavailable as a sound output, follow the steps listed below:
Step 1: Switch your headphones off.
Step 2: After a brief pause, switch the headphones on again.
Step 3: Check if your headphones connect to your Windows machine by visiting the sound output device list in the Quick Settings panel.
The instructions to restart headphones varies for models but sometimes, power-cycling the device fixes long-standing connection issues.
3. Pair the Bluetooth device again
If your headphones aren’t connecting to your computer, you may need to pair them again. The process is very simple and you should also follow it if you reset your computer or headphones recently.
Step 1: Press Windows + I to open Settings.
Step 2: Select Bluetooth & devices from the left-hand sidebar.
Step 3: Turn on the Bluetooth toggle and click the Add device button.
Step 4: Click on Bluetooth in the Add a device window.
Step 5: Switch on your headphones and enter pairing mode. The process may differ by device.
Step 6: Click the name of your headphones in the Add a device window to pair them.
Step 7: If prompted, approve the pairing request code, and viola! Your headphones should show up in the Quick Settings panel as sound output.
4. Run the Bluetooth troubleshooter
Sometimes, headphones may not play audio, or may show up as a headset. A recent Bluetooth driver or headphone firmware update typically causes this. Thankfully, Microsoft makes fixing this rather painless. You just run the Bluetooth troubleshooter utility.
Step 1: Open the Settings app.
Step 2: Type Bluetooth troubleshooter in the sidebar’s search box.
Step 3: Click the first suggestion to open the Bluetooth troubleshooter.
Step 4: Click the Advanced button in the troubleshooter and ensure the Apply repairs automatically option is checked. Then, click Next. Your computer will automatically find Bluetooth issues and apply fixes.
Step 5: The troubleshooter will show you the issues it fixed. Click the Close button to exit it.
5. Set headphones as default device
If your Bluetooth headphones still show up as a headset, you may need to set them as the default audio playback and communications device to get them working perfectly again.
Step 1: Open Settings.
Step 2: Select System from the sidebar.
Step 3: Select Sound settings.
Step 4: Click the arrow on the right-hand side for your headphones under the Output section.
Step 5: In the drop-down for Set as default sound device, select Use as default for communications.
Step 6: Click the drop-down again and choose Also use as default for audio.
After these steps, Windows 11 will recognise your Bluetooth device as headphones, and not a headset.
6. Manually Update Bluetooth Drivers
If your headphones aren’t functioning as intended, it pays to check your Bluetooth drivers and ensure they are up to date. This fixes issues like frequent disconnections, packet loss, etc.
Step 1: Right-click the Start button.
Step 2: Select Device Manager from the list.
Step 3: Click the arrow beside Bluetooth in Device manager.
Step 4: Right-click the Wireless Bluetooth(R) device, which is usually your computer’s Bluetooth controller.
Step 5: Select Update driver from the drop-down menu.
Step 6: Select Search automatically for drivers.
Step 7: The system automatically installs the latest compatible drivers. Click the Close button after the update completes.
7. Use an External Bluetooth Dongle
If all the above options fail, the best way forward is to purchase an external Bluetooth dongle because it works independently of the Windows 11 settings. They also come with the latest compatible drivers. You just plug your Bluetooth dongle into your computer via USB and pair your headphones to the dongle.
Enjoy Your Bluetooth Headphones Without Any Issue
PC not recognizing headphones can leave you with a sour taste. You can use the tricks above to fix the issue in no time.