How to connect a pair of bluetooth speakers to your iMac, Macbook or Macbook Air

There are a stack of bluetooth speakers available. Here’s how to pair one to your Apple laptop for better sound quality and volume.

Step 1: Turn on bluetooth

Open ‘System Preferences’ (from the Apple Menu at the top left of your laptop screen) then click on ‘Bluetooth.’

Click on ‘Turn Bluetooth On’ to turn it on. Don’t close the Preferences window yet – keep it open for Step 3 below.

Step 2: Put your speaker into ‘Pairing Mode’

The very first time that you use a speaker with a new computer or iPhone you need to ‘pair’ it so that it knows which computer to receive music from. You’ll need to look in the device user manual to find out how to do this. It varies from speaker to speaker but generally you are holding down the power or bluetooth button for a certain time until something starts blinking.

For a Marley speaker you press the bluetooth button and a blue light flashes.

For a JBL extreme speaker you turn it on then press and hold the POWER button again until it starts blinking.

For a Bose Soundlink you need to press and hold the Bluetooth® button on the speaker for three seconds.


Step 3: Select the speaker in your bluetooth preferences.

When the speaker is in pairing mode it should appear in the ‘Devices’ section of your Bluetooth Preferences Pane. You need to select the device and then it will say ‘Connected’ like the screenshot above. If it doesn’t’ appear, which sometimes happens, try some of the following: wait, turn the device off and on again, put the speaker into pairing mode again, restart your computer, turn bluetooth off and on again on your computer, wait longer, move the bluetooth speaker closer to your computer etc until it works.


Step 4: Show volume in Menu bar.

Go to system preferences, select the Sound preference panel, and select the box that says ‘Show volume in menu bar.’ Now a new icon will appear in the top right of your Menu bar.

Step 4: Select the Bluetooth Speaker as your audio out device.

Now you need to tell the computer to output the audio to your new connected speaker. Go to new volume icon in your menu bar and select the bluetooth speaker. In the example below I will be selecting ‘Marley Get Together.’ This will send the audio output from my computer to the bluetooth speaker.


19 responses to “How to connect a pair of bluetooth speakers to your iMac, Macbook or Macbook Air”

  1. I tried pairing Bluetooth speaker with my MacBook air but it’s not appearing in the Bluetooth devices section so u can’t click on it to get it connected. Any idea where the fault is from?

    1. Just trial and error. Turn bluetooth device on before opening bluetooth prefs. Turn it on after. Restart the mac. Check the device manual to make sure you know how to put the device into bluetooth pairing mode.

    2. Pavlo

      same story with my Mac Pro with Mojave and Marshall MID . there is no way to pair them .

    3. sandra

      Same – JBL is not showing up in Bluetooth preference so can’t connect. Frustrating!!!!

      1. Did you try restarting your computer and bluetooth device and then re-pairing?

  2. Ric cannon

    Ok with one but I can see two on the list but it will only pair with one. Trying to connect the second one disconnects the first, you article is about a pair os speakers, what am I doing wrong?

    1. Not really from the bluetooth menu. You can only connect to one bluetooth audio device at a time. There is a workaround. You can ‘join’ several devices together into 1 device. Go to your utilities folder and find an application called ‘Audio and MIDI setup.’ Press the plus button and select ‘Create Multi-Output Device.’ Select the 2 devices you want to link, and they will be mirrored to each other. This is so you can send the same audio to various devices at the same time. You can mirror to bluetooth devices and also to non bluetooth devices.

      1. This works wonderfully on my 2012 MacBook Pro (Retina) running macOS Catalina 15.2, and it’s the definitive answer for the Mac and the new JBL Go 2 Series III units.

        It took me a bit of experimenting to discover the way it works, but not so long.

        (1) Connect both JBL Go 2 Series III units via Bluetooth, and ensure they active. I renamed them to “JBL Go 1” and “JBL Go 2” to make it easier to distinguish them.

        (2) Run the Audio MIDI Setup app on your Mac.

        (3) Select the Audio window in Audio MIDI Setup app.

        (4) In the lower-left corner, click on the “+” and select “Create Multi-Output Device”.

        (5) You will see the two JBL 2 Series III units, so check them to select both of them for the multi-output device. Uncheck any other speakers that you see, which typically will be “Built-in Output”.

        (6) Exit the Audio MIDI Setup app.

        (7) Click on the “Apple” icon at the top-left or the Desktop and start the System Preferences app.

        (8) Click on the “Sound” icon.

        (9) Click on the “Output” tab and select “Multi-Output Device”.

        Since each JBL Go 2 Series III is a stereo unit, you get stereo from both units, which in a sense makes it monaural–except that when you set the volume levels of each unit to match, it’s more like surround sound, or the way a monaural system with two speakers is supposed to sound. This is excellent for listening to monaural recordings, which is the only way to understand songs from the 1950s and early-1960s. If you want stereo, then get a pair of SONY 7506 headphones and use them–except that “stereo” in this context has the Left channel going to the left ear and the Right channel going to the right ear, which is different from listening to room speakers, where both ears hear a blend of Left and Right since it’s not isolated like headphones. .

        The multi-output device does NOT have a volume control, so you need to set the volume levels via the JBL Go 2 Series III units and then to adjust the overall volume in specific apps like YouTube.

        I would prefer to have separate Left and Right controls, as well as separate Mac volume controls, but the internal speakers on my 2012 MacBook Pro (Retina) sound terrible, so for me this is a nice solution, and I’m happy.

      2. Robert

        Surf.Whammy – Great solution! I now have stereo on a pair of UE Booms driven by my Macbook Pro 2018.

      3. Christina

        Thanks Wayne!
        it worked! thank you!

  3. Bon

    Why can’t get the volume to go very loud on my iPod & my iMac yet my iPad goes real loud? Thx

  4. Christine

    Thank you for making me not have to call my partner on his business trip because of the incredibly, technologically incompetent human that I am.

  5. Emily

    For the people who are connected but hear no sound, you have to go to “system preferences”, click on the “Sound” Icon and go to output and double tap on your Bluetooth device (NAME). You guys should hear sound coming from your device now!

  6. Sean

    When I try to connect Bluetooth speaker to with my PC, it shows connected but with no sound, is there is any setting issues to with my PC or I need to change the speakers.

  7. PF Buck

    Try this link.
    I have connected 3 different speakers made from different companies. Sometimes there is as issue with sound drift. But I have been happy with the possibilty

  8. Marcus

    Which is a better speaker for Audiophiles for mobile phones and smartphones? any advice on that?

    Lovely content.

  9. Ellen

    My Wonderboom is not showing up as a device.

  10. Joanna

    This totally isn’t working for me in 2021. I couldn’t get the midi thing to see my two bluetooth devices, it just called them “airplay” not their names, and then it got utterly confused, listed for example the internal speaker twice and a bunch of blank devices, then it crashed twice, now when I start audio midi setup the “add multi output device” thing does nothing, and there’s a bunch of crap under my sound options / output devices.

  11. Stuart

    Thanks. Worked like a charm!

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