Getting Bluetooth Working on the Raspberry Pi 3

The latest version of the Raspberry Pi incorporates a BCM43438 chip which gives the device built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1/LE support. However, if you want to take advantage of these features, you’ll need to make sure that your Raspbian (the device’s Debian Linux-based OS) is up to date. Make sure your device is connected to the Internet, open a terminal and type


the following commands:

$ sudo apt-get update

$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Depending on how fast your internet connection is and how many updates your system needs, this could take a little while. Once these two commands finish, it’s time to upgrade your OS by typing: $ sudo apt-get upgrade.

Next, install the software for your Raspberry Pi’s Bluetooth hardware by typing  $ sudo apt-get install pi-bluetooth.  Next, install a graphical Bluetooth configuration tool by typing:  $ sudo apt-get install bluetooth bluez blueman.  Now just reboot your device by typing  $ sudo reboot.

After you reboot, you should see a Bluetooth icon in the upper right corner of the screen. If it’s not there, open the main menu and navigate to Preferences>Bluetooth Manager.

Pairing mobile devices with your Pi

Start by right clicking on the Bluetooth icon and click “Make Discoverable.” Open the Bluetooth settings on your mobile device and search for your Pi, then pair the devices. Click confirm in the dialog box which will pop up on your Raspberry Pi.

Transferring Files

Now that your devices are paired, you can send files from your Raspberry Pi 3 to your mobile by right clicking on the Bluetooth icon and clicking “Send files to device” from the menu; this will bring up a dialog box which allows you to choose the destination, then the files you want to send. Once you click “OK” to begin the transfer, your mobile device will then ask you to confirm the transfer.

Connecting Bluetooth Keyboards and/or Mice

If you want to free up your USB ports, using Bluetooth accessories is a great choice. To connect them, just right click the Bluetooth icon and choose “Set Up New Device.”  This will launch a set up wizard which will walk you through the process. Make sure to make your Bluetooth devices discoverable so that the wizard can detect them. You’ll be asked to create a passkey; this is a code which will help confirm that you’re connecting to the right device.

Usually, mice will have a preset code, either 0000, 111 or 1234 (check your manual). You can use any number you like for your keyboard. Next, enter the passkey on your keyboard to confirm. Once your mouse and keyboard are paired, you can use them like any other mouse or keyboard and your Raspberry Pi 3 will save this configuration and use it anytime it boots with these Bluetooth devices within range.

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