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Bluetooth Headsets Not Showing in Playback Devices: Here’s How to Fix This

Connecting a pair of Bluetooth headsets on Windows 10 is fairly easy. They tend to work out of the box but sometimes, a Bluetooth device that you’ve paired, and previously connected to from your system stops working. Often, the only way to get it to connect again is to unpair and pair the device but if the issue reappears, you need to try a different fix.

Bluetooth headsets not showing in playback devices

#1 – Limit Bluetooth devices

Try to limit the Bluetooth devices that you’re using with your system. Normally, a system is able to connect to several Bluetooth devices but it may be congested. You don’t have to unpair devices but disconnect a device that you aren’t using.

  1. Tap the Win+K keyboard shortcut.
  2. A panel will open on the right; select the device that you aren’t using.
  3. Click Disconnect.
  4. Restart the system, and connect your Bluetooth headphones.

#2 – Restart Bluetooth

Try to toggle Bluetooth on your system.

  1. Click the Action center icon in the system tray.
  2. In the panel that opens, click the Bluetooth button to turn it off.
  3. Restart the system.
  4. Click the Action Center icon and click the Bluetooth button to turn it back on.
  5. Connect your headphones and they should appear as a playback device.

#3 – Run Bluetooth troubleshooter

Windows 10 has a built-in troubleshooter for Bluetooth.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to Update & Security.
  3. Select the Troubleshoot tab.
  4. Scroll down and click ‘Additional troubleshooters’.
  5. Select the Bluetooth troubleshooter and run it.
  6. Apply any and all fixes it recommends, and restart the system.

#4 – Run hardware troubleshooter

If the Bluetooth troubleshooter doesn’t fix the problem, you can run the hardware troubleshooter instead.

  1.  Tap the Win+R keyboard shortcut to open the Run box.
  2. In the Run box, enter the following.
msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnostic
  1. Run the troubleshooter and apply any fixes it recommends.
  2. Restart the system.

#5 – Update Bluetooth drivers

An outdated Bluetooth driver may cause problems with some devices. Try updating the driver.

  1. Make sure Bluetooth is turned on.
  2. Open the Device Manager.
  3. Expand Bluetooth devices.
  4. Right-click Bluetooth chip, and select Update driver.
  5. Install the driver update and restart the system.

#6 – Rollback Bluetooth driver

Drivers tend to update automatically on Windows 10. It’s possible that your Bluetooth driver updated and your headphones aren’t compatible with it. In that case, you can roll back the driver.

  1. Open Device Manager.
  2. Expand Bluetooth.
  3. Right-click your Bluetooth device, and select Properties.
  4. Go to the Driver tab.
  5. Click the Roll Back Driver button.
  6. Restart the system.

#7 – Check Bluetooth firmware update

Although rare, some Bluetooth headphones have their own firmware installed. Check if there’s an update available for the firmware. Doing so may fix any problems that the device is having. On that note, make sure the Bluetooth headphones are charged.

#8 – Check enabled/disabled audio devices

It’s possible that the Bluetooth device is disabled as an audio device.

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Go to Hardware & Sound>Sound.
  3. Go to the Playback tab.
  4. Right-click in an empty area, and select ‘Show disabled devices’, and ‘Show disconnected devices’.
  5. Check if your Bluetooth headphones appear. If they do, right-click the device and select Enable.

#9 – Set Bluetooth service to autostart

Sometimes, the Bluetooth service on Windows 10 fails to start. Normally, it should start automatically.

  1. Tap the Win+R keyboard shortcut.
  2. In the run box, enter “services.msc”, and tap Enter.
  3. Look for the Bluetooth Support Service.
  4. Right-click it, and select ‘Properties’ from the context menu.
  5. On the General tab, open the Startup type dropdown, and select Automatic.
  6. Restart the system.

#10 – Install proprietary Bluetooth app

Much like some Bluetooth devices have their own firmware, they also tend to have proprietary apps released by the manufacturer of the device. Check if there’s an app that goes with your headphones and install it.

#11 – Run Windows Store Apps troubleshooter

This is an odd fix but it has helped quite a few users resolve this problem with Bluetooth headphones.

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Open the dropdown at the top right, and select Large Icons.
  3. Select Troubleshooting.
  4. In the column on the left, click View All.
  5. In the list of troubleshooter, look for the Windows Store Apps troubleshooter.
  6. Run it, and apply any and all changes that it recommends.
  7. Restart the system.

Conclusion

Bluetooth devices are easy to set up but they can have trouble maintaining a connection with a system.

Make sure the headsets are fully charged.

Try using them with other devices e.g., a phone, and see if the device is able to maintain a connection with it. If not, the problem may be with the headset.

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