How to tell if your Mac has Bluetooth 4.0 (BT LE)

How to tell if your Mac has Bluetooth 4.0 (BT LE)

Some features coming to iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite are dependent on Bluetooth 4.0. Does your Mac have what it takes?

There are a lot of cool features coming to iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite this fall. One of the most hotly anticipated is Handoff, which enables you to pick up where you left off in an email, a document and other work between iOS and OS X devices. Handoff is elegantly choreographed dance between devices, operating systems and protocols. It's partly dependent on Bluetooth 4.0, the most recent widespread deployment of the popular short-distance wireless communication protocol, which includes Bluetooth Low Energy (BT LE). So, how can you tell if your Mac is properly equipped to take advantage of it?

Bluetooth 4.0 is included in most phones, iPod touches and iPads that will be capable of running iOS 8 when it comes out this fall. (The iPad 2 supports Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, but all other iOS 8-capable devices are equipped with Bluetooth 4.0.)

Unfortunately, it's not quite that clear cut on the Mac side of things. The cutoff starts somewhere in 2011:

  • The Mac mini and MacBook Air were both updated with Bluetooth 4.0 support in 2011.
  • The MacBook Pro and iMac added it a year later in 2012.
  • The Mac Pro languished without it until the new black model debuted in December 2013.

You can check for yourself if you're not exactly sure which Mac model you have. It's a little convoluted, so bear with me and follow these instructions to find out.

To determine your Mac's Bluetooth version

  1. Click the menu.
  2. Select About This Mac.
  3. Click on the More Info... button.
  4. Click on the System Report... button.
  5. Select Bluetooth from the sidebar on the left, underneath "Hardware."
  6. Scan down the list of information until you find "LMP Version."

If your Mac is equipped with Bluetooth 4.0, LMP Version will say 0x6. Anything lower than that is an older version of Bluetooth.

Does your Mac come with Bluetooth 4.0, or are you going to need a new system to take full advantage of Yosemite and iOS 8 when they're released this fall? Post your thoughts in the comments.

Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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How to tell if your Mac has Bluetooth 4.0 (BT LE)

61 Comments

I know my machine doesn't (MacBook Pro 15 late 2009).

What I'm curious about is if I get a BT4.0 adapter (that's supported by the built in drivers) if that will allow my machine to support handoff.

Sent from the iMore App

Glad I am no the only one thinking this...was just checking on-line and found a 4.0 BT LE adapter for less than $15. Would be very cool if it did since I have a Mid-2011 Mac.

I have a hackintosh with a bluetooth 4.0 adapter. Under LMP version it says 0x6 so it is Bluetooth 4.0 but I read a few articles saying as of now no dongles are working with the handoff feature

Ah, kind of a bummer here. Late 2011 high end MacBook Pro which I just put 16gb of RAM and a 500gb SSD in less than a month ago, so no way I'm parting with this beast. Power > small feature, in my opinion, though I would have liked to of been able to take advantage of it.

Not a great reason. My 2009 Mac Pro still screams circles around my 2012 MacBook Pro. Handoff is convenient, but hardly a deal-breaker.

Ouch! My MBP says the software version of bluetooth is 4.2.6f1 14216 - but LMP is 0X4. I was hoping the software version was it....but I guess not. Hardware trumps software.

Could you go into more depth about 'partly dependent on bluetooth 4.0?' I'm reading conflicting info from imore on how Handoff works. In a recent post, it made it seem like Handoff was all Wi-Fi... so the iphone could be in another room across the house. How does it use bluetooth? Thanks

The Hand-off program takes advantage of bluetooth when there is no wifi available. Meaning that older macs are more than capable of handling this but the software checks your hardware will work with all features. Another one of apples wonderful schemes. Chances are Mac Pro users won't be all that fussed because if you have a Mac Pro you aren't likely to use it as a home computer anyway. I am sure someone will come out with a modified version of hand-off to enable this function. It is still in beta so Apple may allow it to work with past generation devices eventually. To conclude, you may or may not be able to use it over wifi but a bit of googling will answer that (But it doesn't look likely)

Besides it is only the LE part there pottered about, it will kill all your devices with fully active bluetooth constantly listening.

The real question is if you can use a dongle with an older computer.

I personally usa a Early 08 MacPro with a kingston usb dongle. Yosemite works fine sees it however handoff's do not work. I'm assuming apple has not opened up handoff to 3rd party hardware. Hopefully this will change or at the very least.. APPLE make your own BT4.0 dongle

Or is Handoff using completely different resources than sending SMS and making calls between devices? Maybe that is the only feature fully using Wi-Fi.

Rene is correct; however, I wish to add a crucial aspect of the BT interaction: proximity awareness. This might confuse many people when they first use the Continuity feature and this is the reason why I did not chime in on the discussion above concerning whether a Bluetooth dongle will work. In essence, the iPhone, iPad, Mac system all do not necessarily traditionally "pair" with one another establishing a constant link.

The protocol will utilize your Apple ID to ensure the connection and authentication between the close-by devices is mutual.

In summation, this technology is the next step in the BT LE ventures Apple has been pursuing with iBeacon and the like.

Rene,

I have a Mac Pro prior to the wonderful black one the Leo has :-) Please tell me that there is a PCIe solution to my lack of Bluetooth LE. Actually, I would settle for any reasonable solution.

Peter, you say, "It's partly dependent on Bluetooth 4.0..." What exactly is dependent and what isn't? I have a compatible MBA but my iMac is a year too old. The thing I'm most interested in is the SMS messaging on my iMac...where I spend more hours of my life than I should ever admit...but the handoff would come in handy as I move about the house and work on different devices.

Actually the whole WiFi/BT LE thing is still a bit confusing to me. Is BT LE used to determine proximity, then hands the file/data exchange off to WiFi, or is the file transfer BT?

Has anyone disabled BT and then tested the handoff and SMS services to see if they still work?

I can tell you this: SMS is NOT dependent on BT LE. I have a mid-2010 iMac (running OS X 10.10), and SMS shows up there just like iMessages and FaceTime calls do. It is apparent that it is solely dependent on iCloud verification (you know like when your iPhone, iPad and Mac all pop up with that message saying "So and So's iDevice was added to such-and-such service")

@pop_art-i-wish says

I've seen that article a long time ago. It used to be that BT4 was not seen at all.
If you find the right dongle it works fine. However yosemitie flipped everything on its side.

With mavericks I used my kingston BT4 dongle but when yosemite came out it broke it had all kinds of bluetooth issues. even went as far as picking another BT4 dongle up. After some testing of an old BT3 by 4cirago it worked fine. So I then went out and and picked up a BT4 of 4cirago. Which in turn didn't produce good results so went back to the BT3 version.

I didn't like using the BT3 version because I always ran into bluetooth issues with headphones i.e. choppy sound just think the bandwidth is not their for this

All that being said with the second beta release i.e. v1.0 of Yosemite my kingston is working well again.

I really think apple is just playing and trying to get all the different forms of wireless working nice together. Don't know much about the inner workings of BT4 but hope it's just a tweak to allow certain chipsets to work.

It's beta we expect them to keep the test pool narrow for the time being. But as just like you all would like to see it widen

Sorry for the long comment
@tfraley

Because you will not be traditionally pairing devices, the proximity feature and the use of Apple IDs might be too far embedded into the design to permit the usage of a dongle; however, the betas will have to be more feature complete to see if that's possible.

Ok... testing is complete (iPhone 5 with mid-2010 iMac). Bad news - Bluetooth dongle that I found doesn't work. Unfortunately though, I have no idea if this BT from Rocketfish (http://m.bestbuy.com/m/e/product/detail.jsp?skuId=8820886&pid=1207351932175) is 4.0. It is the only one that my Best Buy stocks, and there is no indication of what version it is... ANYWHERE. But here's a list of works/doesn't work with whatever the hell version that one is (spoiler: no difference from before):
SMS/MMS (send/receive/sync) on iMac - works flawlessly (I assume because it uses iCloud verification ONLY, like FaceTime and iMessage)
Phone calls on iMac - doesn't work (I assume it requires BT LE to pair, then just stays on throughout your WiFi network... maybe Apple will add us lowly long-time users... doubt it though)
Handoff - doesn't work (this seems pretty straightforward that it depends primarily on BT LE, as it senses when you're close to your computer)

So that's that.

SMS is not apart of the BT LE protocol that's handled separately for the most part and will work with BT disabled on both devices. It is too early to tell whether or not a dongle will actually work since the beta versions are feature incomplete. Even is you have a Mid-2013 MBA and an iPhone 5S like myself it currently will not work as designed.

Yeah, that's more or less what I was saying. Can you explain a little, what you mean by "it currently will not work as designed." Are you saying that you have been unsuccessful in using Continuity features (specifically Handoff and make/receive calls), even with supported hardware?

Thank god my Mac mini (brought in 2012), has it, time to buy new iPad though as I have iPad2 and it can not be used with many other new accessories too such as controller, stylus.

It's 3/2 in our household. My 15" rMBP and my partner's 11" MBA are BT LE. But not our 2009 24" iMac which lately has been operating as a stand in for our failing TV.

Sent from the iMore App

Why HandOff not work on:
MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2011), Os X Yosemite,
Apple Bluetooth Software Version: 4.3.0d54 14222
Bluetooth Low Energy Supported: Yes
Continuity Supported:Yes
AirDrop Supported: Yes
LMP Version: 0x6

I wonder if they could make finding the Bluetooth version level of your computer a little more nerdy? 0x6 of LMP was just so obvious and intuitive.

Sent from the iMore App

Is this a simple matter of upgrading the BT/Wifi card in your Mac? I mean, iFixit makes it look extremely easy to do that for my model of MacBook Air (Late-2010):
https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Air+13-Inch+Late+2010+AirPort-Bluet...

That assumes that the card from the mid-2011 model still works with the 2010 model. Which, from what I'm reading about the interchangeability of parts, seems like it does. Question is, does BT LE exist at the chip level alone, or does the antenna hardware make a difference too?

Here's the internal BT/wifi card for sale:
https://www.ifixit.com/Store/Mac/MacBook-Air-Late-2010-Mid-2011-Mid-2012...

This is interesting, I'm able to see my text messages on my macbook pro mid 2009 with Yosemite Beta from my iphone 5 with IOS 8 beta but can't reply from my mac. iMessages works fine send/receive. Any thoughts?

I've an 11" mid-2011 MacBook Air now running Public Beta 6, and the System Info tells me that, while I have BT LE, LMP Version 0x6, software version 4.3.0f10 14890, it also stated "Handoff Supported = "No"

Could this be due to it being the Public Beta, and that once the final release is out I'll be good to go? I wonder...

Yep, I have the same combination with a mid-2011 Mac Mini: LMP 0x6, Handoff Supported: No. The LMP version alone is apparently not enough.

I have a Late 2011 15" MBP that doesn't have Bluetooth 4.0 LE. I CAN'T handoff e-mails and messages with the MBP like I can with my iPhone 6 and iPad Air. I CAN make and receive phone calls and SMS messages via my MBP however. So not all is lost thankfully.

I have a mid 2007 iMac, with BT 0x3. Anybody knows if I can use a external USB BT adapter to take benefit of Handoff ?

Thanks in advance

Ah, so THIS is the deciding factor. I was holding out a fool's hope that my upgrading some hardware myself might get my 2010 iMac to slip in with Handoff support. Can't say I'd use the software handoff a lot, but glad to see SMS and call support works nonetheless.

P.S. If you want this article to follow Yosemite, it appears "More Info..." has been updated to "System Report".

This article is not accurate.

A Mid-2011 MacBook Air does have Bluetooth Low Energy and the LMP Version is: 0x6 but Handoff is still not support. This was likely due to performance issues with the feature that it was restricted.

To determine if your Mac supports Handoff, go to the System Profiler and go to Bluetooth, the 4th line down says Handoff Supported: Yes or No.

So ere we are now out with Yosemite, and a patch on top of it to boot, and still no bluetooth connection between my MacBook Retina 15" and my iPhone 5...both with BT4 (at least based on the LMP eval method 0x6) Any ideas?