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