[Update: April 27] macOS Big Sur update is reportedly causing Bluetooth connectivity issues for some, but there're few workarounds
New updates are being added at the bottom of this story…
Original story (published on December 10, 2020) follows:
The macOS Big Sur update brings a ton of new features and improvements over macOS Catalina and also comes with a fresh new user interface.
Like most other updates, macOS Big Sur also has dozens of under the hood improvements in order to improve the user experience.
Moreover, the new OS for Macs now lets users run iOS or iPadOS applications as well, albeit only on the new Apple M1-powered MacBooks and Mac Mini.
But even with all the new improvements and months of beta testing, several bugs and issues have managed to sneak their way past Apple’s developers and are now troubling those who installed macOS Big Sur.
Matter of fact, some users with older MacBooks found themselves with bricked computers after installing the seemingly harmless software update.
And on the subject of bugs and issues, it seems that those who installed the macOS Big Sur update or have the new Macs that come with macOS Big Sur out-of-the-box are facing Bluetooth issues.
We’ve shared some reports from users who are experiencing Bluetooth issues below:
I have spent a lot of time with Apple support with the same problem. They suggested making sure my bluetooth devices had updated firmware. In the end I had to revert to Catalina as Big Sur doesn’t support ANY of my bluetooth headsets/speakers. (Source)
been having so many bluetooth problems with Big Sur (Source)
I have the same issue with my Sony MX1000m3 and other bluetooth devices. My iPhone can pair and use them without any problem but on my iMac they don’t even show up in the list. I’ve reset the BT module and cleared the ram on restart but nothing helps. (Source)
As you can see, users complain about them being unable to use their Bluetooth devices after installing the macOS Big Sur update.
While most complaints are from users who are facing Bluetooth connectivity issues when trying to pair their audio devices to their Macs on macOS Big Sur, the problem extends to other Bluetooth accessories as well.
What makes it even more disappointing is the fact that these Bluetooth issues appear to have been around since Apple was beta testing the OS as highlighted by some users on this Reddit thread that was created two months ago.
Having said that, there appears to be at least a couple of workarounds that have helped many individuals resolve the issue on their Macs.
Workarounds for Bluetooth connectivity issues on macOS Big Sur
1. Delete the HAL plugin folder:
Apparently, deleting the ‘HAL’ folder resolved the problem for some users (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) who were having Bluetooth connectivity issues after installing macOS Big Sur. We’ve shared the location of this folder below:
In case you aren’t able to find you, a user has shared an alternative method:
If you’re unable to locate and delete the “HAL” plugin folder (sometimes it’s hidden from view), try this:
– Open Terminal app
– Type in: sudo rm -rf /Library/Audio/Plug-ins/HAL/
– Restart your Mac (Source)
Doing this seems to fix all Bluetooth connectivity issues on headphones/earphones. Therefore, it’s definately worth a shot in case you were having issues trying to get your audio accessories paired via Bluetooth.
2. Reset the Bluetooth module:
The problem could also potentially be resolved by resetting/debugging the Bluetooth module on your Mac.
To do this, press and hold the Shift + Option (Alt) keys and then click on the Bluetooth icon generally located in the macOS menu bar. Then hover the mouse over Debug and click Reset the Bluetooth module. Once done, restart your Mac.
3. Reset the SMC:
At least one user who was experiencing these issues claims to have fixed the problem by resetting the SMC (System Management Controller).
In case you aren’t familiar with how to reset the SMC on your Mac, you can head here for the detailed guide on how to reset the SMC for the various Macs out there.
Well, these are the few possible solutions that don’t require you to perform a factory data reset. Unfortunately, Apple is yet address the issue publicly and we do not expect them to do so.
But we will continue tracking the situation and will post an update once more details emerge or when Apple rolls out a fix for the problem.
In the meantime, check out our dedicated tracker to know the status of all other bugs and issues reported by users who have installed the macOS Big Sur update on their devices.
Update 1 (January 12, 2021)
As per a recent tweet, Apple is seemingly aware and already working on a fix for the Bluetooth connectivity issues brought about by the macOS Big Sur update.
Update 2 (April 12, 2021)
Another user-shared workaround that has caught our sight is to select the device manually under System Preferences/Sound settings. Take a look at what the user shared:
I finally figured that as well as connecting to bluetooth
you also must open System Preferences/Sound and select the device.
I think this used to be an automatic selection when you connected to bluetooth previously, but not since Big Sur.
So connect bluetooth to your device, then open Sound and select the device
Update 3 (April 27)
The macOS Big Sur 11.2 update release notes do mention improvements in Bluetooth reliability so you might want to update to that version. Full changelog can be accessed from here.
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