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How we fixed our Bluetooth nightmare

by Brandon Russell | June 7, 2015

Apple Handoff

There are a lot of devices in our office—too many to count. Add them to a number of appliances, TVs, office neighbors, camera gear, alarm systems and gaming consoles, and you have a lot of signals flying around. And while a lot of these devices have become increasingly sophisticated, they can be plagued by the simplest of issues.

Take, for example, Jon’s recent Nexus 9 predicament. Or, going back even further, his issues with the iPad Air 2. These issues shouldn’t be happening. You expect your expensive gadgets to work to perfection, even if those expectations are a little unreasonable. By and large, the technology we’re surrounded by every day works, more or less, how we want it to.

Mostly.

There’s been one issue in particular—something that came up shortly after our move—that has ground productivity in our office to a halt. For reasons unknown to us, Bluetooth connectivity in OS X Yosemite over the past several months has been utterly atrocious, almost unusable. It got so bad that Jon returned several headphones thinking they were busted, when, in fact, it was something to do with our computers (we think).

I rely on several Bluetooth devices everyday: my keyboard, my mouse, and a trackpad. These tools allow me to do my job, and when they’re not functioning properly, it makes for an incredibly frustrating experience. I don’t know how many times I would be in the middle of typing, and my keyboard connection would just drop off, only to mysteriously return 15 minutes later. Worse, there have been multiple occasions when my keyboard would endlessly type the same letter, as if it was possessed by some demon.

And it wasn’t whether or not if it would happen, but when. You can imagine how frustrating this is when it happens repeatedly throughout the day; it’s particularly maddening when you need to get something out quick, like during a major event. It would be like if you were driving and your car turned left when you wanted to turn right (extreme example, but you get the idea.)

I tried everything, too. I tweaked my Bluetooth preferences, turned off Bluetooth sharing, and never used AirDrop, thinking maybe the issue would slowly fade. But it didn’t, and, in fact, only seemed to get worse as time went on.

So we did some digging. Well, actually, TechnoBuffalo producer Ralph Llerenas did some digging, and he found a solution.

When Apple introduced OS X Yosemite, one of the headlining features was something called Handoff, which basically allows users to edit a document on one device, and pick it up on another. In theory, it meant a seamless workflow, giving busy folks the opportunity to easily transition between their army of gadgets. And it does work. But it also might be the culprit of our Bluetooth nightmare.

I’m not 100-percent sure Handoff is the wrongdoer; like I said, there are so many signals flying around in our office that it could just be a culmination of everything. But as soon as we turned the feature off—something none of us here in the office use anyway—our Bluetooth problems ended. Like a rash that suddenly cleared up. And it was instantaneous.

Over the past week or so, everything has gone swimmingly, with no issues to speak of whatsoever. It feels like a miracle, not having to delete and re-pairing devices. And unauthorized users no longer show up in my preferences, which leads me to believe Handoff did indeed have something to do with the problems we were having.

You can turn this feature off by going to System Preferences > General. You’ll see the option at the bottom; just uncheck the box and you’ll be good to go.

I can’t say exactly how or why Handoff was causing issues, but now that it’s off, Bluetooth is back to normal. Chances are if we were experiencing the issue, others might have run into something similar. Not only is a situation like this frustrating, but disruptive to productivity, which possess a major problem when your job is to spend all day on a computer.

Other Continuity features still work, like SMS, phone, and AirDrop. You just won’t be able to use the Handoff feature, which nobody uses anyway—at least here in the office.

Have you experienced anything similar?


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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...


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