MAC 101: How to pair your Bluetooth device

Let’s face it pairing Bluetooth has never been the friendliest process. It’s quite possible even for the geekiest of geeks to realise a year down the track that both their computer and phone have Bluetooth and they’ve never thought of connecting them.

So here’s the quick start guide if you’ve never tried it with a Mac before.

First steps

The first thing to do is get your Bluetooth device in to Pairing mode. You’ll find instructions in the manual that came with your device but if it’s a mobile phone normally you’ll need to go to the settings connectivity section and turn on Bluetooth. You’ll also need to “make the device visible”. For security reasons Bluetooth is usually defaulted to invisible so other devices that aren’t approved to connect can’t find yours.

On your Mac go to System Preferences > Bluetooth. Click the ‘Set up New Device’ button to begin the setup process. The Bluetooth Setup Assistant should launch.

The setup assistant

Now you’ll be guided through the setup steps.

Firstly click continue and select the type of device you are trying to setup. Clicking on “any device” lets you browse all devices in range of your computer and is a sure bet to get your Mac to see your device.

Once you click continue the Assistant will start searching for Bluetooth devices. Give it a minute or so to register your device.

First you’ll see the physical MAC (hardware network address) of the unit but this should quickly be replaced with the Device name.

Once your device has appeared click the ‘Continue’ button.

The assistant then gathers information about your device and works out what it is capable of. Different phones support different services.

Most popular phones should pair with the Mac and some like a MotorolaRAZR will work with iSync. To see a list of supported phones click here.

If your phone is not officially supported by Apple there are a bunch of third party developers that have created cheap iSync plugins to add support for other phones.

Check out NovaMedia for Nokia Sony Ericsson Samsung Benq/Siemens and Motorola. You can buy support for the lot for one payment of 9.95 Euro ($A15.97).

There’s also Mobile.Feisar which supports a bunch of Sony Ericsson phones and costs only £1.49 ($A3.53).

Once the assistant has worked out what your phone can do you’ll need to enter an eight digit PIN in to your device. Entering this PIN means your Mac will talk to your phone securely.

Once entered your phone may ask you if you ‘trust’ the device – say yes as this means you won’t need to confirm a connection on your phone each time your computer tries to communicate with it.

If your phone is supported by iSync check the ‘Setup iSync to transfer contacts and events’ box to sync your personal information to your phone.

Once you’ve experienced managing your phone’s address book using the Apple Address Book app and syncing it via Bluetooth you’ll never look back — it’s a huge timesaver.

You can also send SMSes via your phone using the Apple Address Book. Simply right-click on a contact with a mobile number and select “SMS Message”.

Connecting to the net via your mobile in OS X

If your phone isn’t supported by iSync you can still access the Internet with your phone’s connection.

You’ll need to add some settings in to the OS X dialup networking configuration. Fortunately there’s a New Zealander Ross Barkman who has got an insanely comprehensive database of mobile network settings from around the world.

You might also need to download a modem script for your particular model of phone since Apple only supplies scripts for a fairly small number of models.

Once again it’s Barkman to the rescue — he has a large number of downloadable scripts for all the different manufacturers including Motorola Sony Ericsson Nokia Siemens Windows Smartphones Blackberry (ones that support tethered IP modem mode) Panasonic Samsung Kyocera and Palm Treo.

A word of warning

Naturally if you’re accessing the net via your phone you should really talk to your phone carrier first about what the best data plan is to be on. You might even want to consider changing mobile carrier. At the moment the best value deals by far are available through Three on its X-Series phones and Virgin Mobile.

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