How to Troubleshoot Intermittent Mac Bluetooth Connections

Diagnosing and fixing Bluetooth connectivity issues can be frustrating, even on a Mac. Here are the steps to work efficiently through the process.

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Once I adopted Macs as my everyday workstations, I hoped Bluetooth connectivity issues would be a thing of the past. I was wrong. Sometimes Bluetooth problems occur. Here are the steps I recently took to fix intermittent connectivity issues on my Mac.

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The problem arose with a loved one Logitech MX Master 3 for Mac Mouse that started disconnecting intermittently from my Intel powered 2020 MacBook Pro 13 inch. The mouse would become unresponsive. Although I received no “lost connection” message on the Mac, the pointer did not respond to movement and clicks were not registered. The problem usually corrects itself in four or five seconds. Still, the problem turned out to be broken and almost always left me confused and frustrated, as clicks didn’t execute commands and the mouse pointer moved to new and unexpected screen locations.

Start troubleshooting mouse problems

I started by following the basic advice. I disabled and re-enabled Bluetooth on the Mac by opening System Preferences, clicking Bluetooth, and clicking the Disable Bluetooth button. Then I disabled and re-enabled the mouse using its sliding power button. I also fully charged the mouse.

No joy. The problem persisted.

Next, I deleted the mouse’s Bluetooth profile on the Mac by opening the Mac’s Bluetooth preferences, highlighting the mouse entry, and clicking the corresponding circled X, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Removing and reinstalling a Bluetooth device can fix connectivity issues by creating a new connection.
Removing and reinstalling a Bluetooth device can fix connectivity issues by creating a new connection.

After reconnecting the mouse (by holding down the settings button until the numeric setting starts flashing rapidly and clicking connect in the Mac’s Bluetooth preferences), the problem went away. But only for a short time. Soon the connection problems returned.

So I tried to start from scratch. I uninstalled the Logitech Options software and removed the mouse bluetooth entry again. After making sure no macOS updates or patches were available, I restarted the Mac for good measure, then reinstalled Logitech’s software, making sure I was working with the version latest, and reconnected the mouse.

The problem disappeared for about 20 minutes, but reappeared again.

Go further: try another Mac

These are the steps that usually restore proper connectivity. If you’re trying these solutions but still having issues, it’s time to dig deeper.

My next step was to use the mouse with another Mac. I also use an Apple M1 powered Mac, so I set up the laptop in the same place using the same mouse. And guess what: no problem. Throughout a morning and afternoon of heavy computer use, the Logitech device and MacBook Pro performed flawlessly.

Although not the solution, experience has shown that the Logitech mouse works fine. Based on experience, I could reasonably conclude that neither the mouse’s electronics nor its Bluetooth radio were responsible for the intermittent issues.

Also, because I used the mouse in the same environment and under the same conditions – with an iMac and its wireless mouse and keyboard a few inches away – I could dismiss concerns that the mouse’s Bluetooth signal had been the victim of a crossover or an attenuation.

Perplexed, I went back to using the apparently faulty MacBook Pro. Only this time I connected another Logitech Bluetooth mouse, an old one MX Master 2S model. After a few minutes of working fine, this mouse also malfunctioned, returning to working fine soon after.

Since the issues arose after installing the macOS Monterey 12.3.1 update, it’s possible that a conflict was introduced with the update that prevents the Intel-powered MacBook Pro from communicating properly external Bluetooth mice. But such an explanation bodes ill for two reasons. First, Apple developers have an encouraging track record of not introducing new problems. Second, simple internet searches do not turn up any other complaints.

With nothing to lose, I kept digging. Anecdotal evidence suggests that you can remove the Bluetooth properties list from the Mac by using the Finder to access the Macintosh HD, double-clicking Library, then the Preferences folder, and deleting the file, as shown in Figure B. Some claim this step eliminates the problems, so I deleted the file and restarted the Mac.

Figure B

There is anecdotal evidence that deleting the Bluetooth properties list from a Mac can help resolve Bluetooth issues.
There is anecdotal evidence that deleting the Bluetooth properties list from a Mac can help resolve Bluetooth issues.

Trial and error sometimes works

In my case, the step seems to have worked. For now, I’m working with my fingers crossed. While I, and probably you, both prefer permanent resolutions, sometimes troubleshooting and resolving intermittent issues like this requires persistent trial and error efforts. Hoping that this problem is solved.

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Steven L. Nielsen