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Using Bluetooth phones with Mac OS X

© May 2019 Anthony Lawrence

Like so many Mac operations, getting pictures from a Bluetooth phone to your Mac is actually very simple once you have done it once. If you've never done it, you may not have a clue where to start, and your phone's manual probably sends you off to get some piece of Windows software that won't help you at all. That's OK: everything you need is already built into your Mac. Here I'll lead you through the whole process, complete with screenshots. With your phone, the procedure may be slightly different on the phone side, but I'll show two examples.

Note: your cell phone provider may have deliberately crippled your ability to do this so that they can charge you more money for emailing your photos!

Note: the usual instructions you find have you SENDING files from the phone to your computer. Here, we're doing it the opposite way: GETTING files FROM the phone with our computer.

The first thing to do is to turn on Bluetooth on your phone. On my Motorola phone, that's Settings -> Connection -> Bluetooth -> Setup. On my wife's Nokia, it's Settings -> Connectivity -> Bluetooth.

Back on the Mac, open System Preferences -> Hardware -> Bluetooth. Click on Devices and then Set Up New Device. Select Mobile Phone as the Device type. After clicking Continue, your phone should show up in the next screen. If it doesn't, power cycle your phone and then try again. Click continue there, and your Mac will make an initial connection to your phone to gather information.

Bluetooth setup

Still not working?

If you still have trouble, check that some other program isn't already using your phone. For example, I have to turn off my BluePhone Elite software before I can do this.

Bluetooth connection

The next step is "pairing". Your Mac is going to show a screen like this:

Bluetooth pairing

Pay attention to your phone now: it will be asking you whether it is OK to pair with your computer. When you affirm that it is, it will ask you to enter the passkey that your Mac screen is displaying. Type that in with the phone's keyboard. If you do that correctly, the two devices will be "paired". Your phone may ask you once more if it's OK to accept the connection; you say that it is.

The next screen on your Mac would allow you to use the phone to access the Internet (assuming you have that feature with your phone service) and with Address Book. As we're just after pictures here, we'll skip those features.

Address book dialog

Back at System Preferences -> Hardware -> Bluetooth -> Settings, click "Show Bluetooth status in menu bar". A Bluetooth icon will appear and disappear in your top menu bar as you click that on and off. It's the same icon shown for Bluetooth in System Preferences -> Hardware but won't be blue.

Click on that Bluetooth icon in your menu bar and choose Browse Device. Your phone should be in the list; select it and click Browse. Your phone will probably again ask you if it's OK to connect with the Mac (it may have a setting where you can tell it that it's always all right to do this). After getting permission if necessary, your Mac will display folders on the phone. Navigate to the appropriate place (different on every phone), select your pictures, and click Get. A Save dialog will pop up, and that's it: the pictures will transfer to your Mac. This picture shows my Motorola phone; your screen may look slightly different and the path to your pictures folder is probably different too.

Folders on Bluetooth phone

After I transfer them, I hit the "Trash" icon to delete them all.

Before you leave a comment, please read ALL the comments. If this doesn't work for you, I CAN'T HELP YOU and quite possibly no one else can either. READ THE COMMENTS!

Got something to add? Send me email.

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-> Using Bluetooth phones with Mac OS X


Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

iOS 8: A Take Control Crash Course

Digital Sharing Crash Course

Take Control of Numbers

Photos: A Take Control Crash Course

iOS 10: A Take Control Crash Course

More Articles by © Anthony Lawrence

Mon Nov 13 14:14:17 2006: 2609   bruceg2004

This is good, except for Verizon users - we cannot browse our pictures on a Treo-650. I am not sure about other models, but Verizon has crippled this feature, in an attempt to get your to buy ringtones from Verizon, instead of using a bluetooth file transfer to the device. Very, very annoying. I think there was a lawsuite about this, and Verizon is supposed to enable this in a future software update on the phone.

- Bruce

Mon Nov 13 16:10:17 2006: 2610   TonyLawrence

Possible answer: (link)
That says you *CAN* send an Album..

But that's sending from the phone, not what I outlined here.. they've disabled browsing your phone FROM the computer also?

Sun Dec 10 09:27:33 2006: 2710   anonymous

You can't do anything that requires OBEX, including OOP (Obex Object Push). These are required features for browsing and uploading/downloading from your Verizon phone. There are seem patches for certain phone models that will activate the standard USB/Bluetooth OBEX features, but the OOP code was completely removed from all new Verizon firmware, and that is required in most cases for the Mac OS X bluetooth device browsing feature.

You need to use Bitpim (www.bitpim.org) for any Verizon phones on Mac OS X. Unless of course you are using a Motorola phone from Verizon. In that case, Bitpim has a problem accessing it for the most part. For Motorola Verizon phones on Mac OS X, the only way to really access it is to either run Windows through Parallels or Bootcamp. I have a minimal Windows XP install through Parallels that I run in a tiny screen with "Motorola Phone Tools v4" (no earlier versions work with the new firmware) and access my phone via Bluetooth with a nice interface for navigating pictures, ringtones, movies, etc. You need the standard Motorola Drivers (www.modmymoto.com), and you can find "Motorola Phone Tools v4" through eMule, Bittorrent and other places, or you can simply purchase it for $29/$49 depending on the version.

Again, these are the ONLY ways to access locked down Verizon phones, unless your phone model that has an equivalent model from Alltel, Cingular or Sprint, in which case you can flash your phones Firmware with the firmware of any of those 3 carriers. This will give you completely UNBLOCKED features while retaining your Verizon cell service. Of course, if you have the Verizon RAZR V3m, forget about it... no V3m firmware has been leaked to the wild yet... have to wait on that. For other phones, try using google and search for the model of your phone along with the words "flash" and "firmware". For Motorola flashing, go to www.modmymoto.com

Thu Apr 26 12:12:40 2007: 2975   anonymous

If I try to transfer a file from the phone to the computer a message appears in the Bluetooth File Exchange Application, it says "The last operation failed: bad request". Why this?

Thu Nov 22 07:07:22 2007: 3265   anonymous

I just had my VERIZON RAZR firmware updated today and now OBEX works. Latest version is 24.1_01.19.05. This update allows you to remove the horrid VERIZON banner on your phone, put different pics on the inside and outside screen, and shows you both EV sig strength and 1X sig strength.

Wed Jan 9 02:24:14 2008: 3422   anonymous

I do all of those steps, but when i get to the part about browsing devices my phone and computer wont connect. It says that Device does not have the necessary services. I have the Samsung Gleam, and a MacBook and i cannot get the computer to see my phone. I cant get it to browse on cingular phones, but not verizon. help ... please. Anyone know how to fix this ????

Wed Jan 9 08:49:39 2008: 3424   TonyLawrence

That's Verizon.

They cripple your phone so that it won't work.

Fri Feb 8 16:13:38 2008: 3610   anonymous

i followed the steps you listed and it shows all my picture files on the screen but when i try to save them to my computer it doesnt get past the transferring window, it just says waiting for target to respond... can you help me out at all as to why its doing this?

Fri Feb 8 16:25:36 2008: 3611   TonyLawrence

OS and version?

Fri Feb 8 16:49:00 2008: 3613   anonymous

My computer is a macbook... OS X...?
my cell phone that im trying to get pictures off of is a LG 800

Fri Feb 8 16:51:57 2008: 3614   TonyLawrence

Apple Menu "About this Mac" will tell you the version.

And you aren't with Verizon, right?

Fri Feb 8 17:04:27 2008: 3616   anonymous

version 10.4.11

no, my cell phone provider is Bell Mobility

Fri Feb 8 17:24:34 2008: 3619   TonyLawrence

OK, your version is OK (though Leopard is better)

It's possible that Belll Mobility has programmed your phone not to allow this.. as you can see in comments above, Verizon plays that game too.

Tue Feb 19 07:31:03 2008: 3666   anonymous

Using T-Mobile Dash and OS X 10.5. After pairing, a "browse" command returns: "The device does not have the necessary services." Not sure if I can send from the Mac, but I want to get photos and videos off the Dash. Thanks for any assist.

Tue Feb 19 13:00:58 2008: 3668   TonyLawrence

I'm pretty sure T-Mobile is one of the ones who want to get money from you from sending the pics..

Tue Mar 11 20:16:42 2008: 3834   Taylor

I have a question. So i did all of that, i got to the part where it even said 'your device has been paired', yet i go to send something and it goes to my phone, but then it says something about a failure with a name card. Thing is, i have a 2GB micro memory card..sooo i dont know whats up with that..

Sun Apr 27 19:34:42 2008: 4145   anonymous

I thought such stuff only happened in windows... but it seems osx can be pretty retarded too. How the*\*** do i transfer the contents of the whole memory card to my hard drive, without manually going through each and every folder and subfolder and copying the files... the bluetooth client wont let you copy folders... how utterly retarded.... and i've been googling without success for software that lets you do that.

Thu Jun 5 23:36:34 2008: 4316   anonymous

You are absolutely right!
The MAC team wrote this code has done a very smelly job!

Mon Mar 16 22:36:56 2009: 5726   anonymous

So I've got an LG VX-5500 and OS 10.4. It gets to the "gathering information" page of the wizard, and then the wizard stops and returns an error like "failed to connect." The phone asks for a pass number, then quits. Then the computer asks for a passcode, and the window closes. It seems that both the phone and computer recognize that each other exist, but there is something that's dropping the connection. Should I try bitpim, even though my model of phone isn't supported?

Mon Mar 16 22:54:39 2009: 5727   TonyLawrence

Does your provider allow this? That's the usual problem..

Tue Mar 17 18:13:26 2009: 5739   anonymous

It's Verizon. Do they disable all phones from bluetooth connection, or is there a way I can fix it? One of the reasons I got a bluetooth phone was so that I could connect it to my computer.

Tue Mar 17 18:21:27 2009: 5740   TonyLawrence

I don't know if Verizon disables this on all phones, but they certainly do this on some.

You may be out of luck.. I use AT&T but I have an older phone too - they may be up to the same crap by now.

Sun Apr 12 00:29:31 2009: 6118   anonymous

i did all that and i can send pics from my mac to my phone but when it browses my phone it comes up with all the folders but apaprently theyre empty why is it doing that?

Sun Apr 12 00:55:29 2009: 6119   TonyLawrence

I don't know - are you looking in the right directory?

Sun Apr 12 00:59:06 2009: 6120   anonymous

yes double checked it like 4 times lol think computers hate me it will open some folders but not the particular one i want which is nothing special just another pic folder

Sun Apr 12 10:58:43 2009: 6124   TonyLawrence

Sorry - no idea.

Sat Apr 25 13:22:28 2009: 6261   anonymous

I followed all of the instructions listed above, but when I reach the last step that should display the folders on my phone the box is empty. Can you tell me what I'm doing wrong?

Sat Apr 25 19:16:56 2009: 6262   TonyLawrence

Same answer as to the person just above you. Phones work differently, sorry.

Sat Jun 6 21:13:07 2009: 6454   anonymous

thank you so much - this was so helpful!

Sat Jul 4 23:24:56 2009: 6611   anonymous

I got connected but got stuck after that. This tutorial got me back on track. Downloaded an image from my Nokia 2760 with no problems. Thanks!

Thu Jul 16 21:09:31 2009: 6638   anonymous

Okay, so I'm with At&t. My cel phone is the new LG Xenon. I followed all of your steps, and got to the final part, and when I clicked on browse device, and allowed my phone to connect.. all it told me was "failed to connect: bad request" or something close to that. You said that Verizon disabled that... but what about At&t or what used to be Cingular?

Fri Jul 17 02:15:52 2009: 6639   TonyLawrence

As I said above, it still works with my old Motorola, but they may have disabled that in yours - I do not know.

Sat Oct 10 06:07:42 2009: 7169   Tash

Hey thanks heaps for this and i thought it was great but when i go browse device after all the other steps and click my bluetooth name from the list then browse device it goes away and then NOTHING comes up. :( Please Please HELP!!! PLEASE. thanks

Sat Oct 10 11:32:40 2009: 7170   TonyLawrence

I'm sorry - read the article and all the comments again: THIS MAY NOT WORK WITH YOUR PHONE. Your greedy cell carrier may have deliberately disabled the feature. ASK THEM.

Sat Oct 31 21:21:39 2009: 7399   Andi

I have a blackberry curve with at&t and i cant get it to work. i go through all the steps and then i get to the end to send the file and it says my phone doesn't have the necessary services. Please help. Thank you. Great step by step instructions.

Sat Oct 31 22:23:07 2009: 7400   TonyLawrence


If you actually READ everything here, including all the comments, then you know the answer: I DON'T KNOW WHY YOUR PHONE CAN'T DO THIS. What does the second paragraph say? How many people asked the same thing in comments? What was the answer every single time?

It was: your cell phone provider may have deliberately crippled your ability to do this.

How many times do I need to say the same thing? I DON'T KNOW WHY YOUR PHONE CAN'T DO THIS. I don't know if your software is broken, if you are just doing it wrong or if your cell phone provider deliberately crippled it. I DON'T KNOW.

Got it yet? I DON'T KNOW.

Sun Nov 8 20:47:59 2009: 7501   TonyLawrence

This might be of interest to people who found this page while searching around:


Mon Nov 16 23:42:18 2009: 7561   titaniumgeek

Thanks for this article, it solved my problems. (Nokia 2760 and macbook, OSX10.5) The computer and phone were a bit hesitant about being friends, but your tip about choosing 'browse device' from the bluetooth menu bar did the trick. Thanks!

Mon Dec 28 11:02:32 2009: 7828   anonymous


To the people who open files in the directory of their phones to find no picture files or whatever in them, try (on your phone) making sure that the bluetooth visibility for the folder is on. I have a samsung tocco and i just stumbled across this whilst trying to file transfer. to do this, i just went to the 'my photos' file, and under options chose 'bluetooth visibility'. i had never noticed this before. hope that helps :)

Mon Dec 28 13:46:12 2009: 7829   TonyLawrence


Nice catch!

I never would have thought to look for that!

Wed Jan 6 16:49:18 2010: 7874   anonymous


I eventually gave up on the Mac -> Phone option and just sent the files from the phone to the Mac. I'm on an LG LX150 with Credo Mobile (Sprint).

Couldn't get the Mac to GET-> files from the device.

Thu Jan 21 23:59:14 2010: 7940   anonymous


I have my motorolla w755 hooked up to my computer fine, but when i try to send a file it just comes up with bad request, or some other error Mac vz 10.4.11

Fri Jan 22 13:47:56 2010: 7942   TonyLawrence


OK - once again - did you read ALL the comments?

Fri Jan 22 13:50:11 2010: 7943   TonyLawrence


This is reached the point where I need to exert some editorial control.

If you have something useful to add, I'll approve your comment. If it's just another "It doesn't work with my xyzx", I'm just going to ignore it.

Sun Feb 28 06:49:39 2010: 8160   anonymous


does it cost money if you do it this way??

Sun Feb 28 12:06:08 2010: 8163   TonyLawrence


does it cost money if you do it this way??

No. That's why people get really cranky if they can't.

Tue Mar 9 21:37:30 2010: 8203   Narjes


I used to do this kind of file transfer between my Mac and my cellphone (sony ericsson c905a) but suddenly my cellphone or maybe my mac stopped transfering files in the middle of browsing and copying the pictures and now, my mac does not brows my cellphone at all.
I reset the connection and again paired the two bluetooth devices. No browsing anymore. I can see my cellphone in the bluetooth devices of my mac but I can not connect to it and the only options that I have are using my cellphone as a presentation device, or desktop or one more thing that I don't remember.
I don't know what has happend but I really appreciate that if you have any clue about what has happened.

Tue Mar 9 21:58:18 2010: 8204   TonyLawrence


No clue, sorry.

Wed Apr 21 03:40:51 2010: 8451   anonymous


i have a question........ you said that the cell phone provider may have deliberately crippled my ability to use bluetooth so that they can charge me more money for emailing my photos...... do they eventually give you back your ability to use bluetooth? Please help!

Wed Apr 21 09:27:18 2010: 8452   TonyLawrence


Not unless they change their policies.

Thu Apr 22 01:08:07 2010: 8455   gkid9


Ok, if you have problems with sending name cards or pictures to your phone, do this. Go into sharing settings (search for it if you don't know where it is) and enable bluetooth sharing and it will allow you to exchange files ect. I have been so frustrated with this... finally figured out what setting does it!

Sun May 16 22:16:16 2010: 8600   anonymous


How come when I try to browse my device (phone) it says "the device does not have the necessary services"?

Sun May 16 23:26:09 2010: 8601   TonyLawrence


It probably means your phone isnt able to be browsed. Did you read everything above and all the comments or did you just jump diwn here and ask your question?

Fri Jun 4 10:45:34 2010: 8656   ana


I did all the steps and can now succesfully transfer photos from my mcbook to my nokia E71 but not the other way round...since under the browse option, it does not show any files from my phone...and only the send button is activated not the get button! any ideas?

Fri Jun 4 10:56:00 2010: 8657   TonyLawrence


No, except to say once again that your provider may have deliberately crippled this.

Sat Jul 3 06:03:52 2010: 8777   anonymous


About the step you skipped (the internet), what do you do if you don't have internet (on your phone)?

Sat Jul 3 06:08:10 2010: 8778   anonymous


Actually, everyone, I think you should take a look at this: (link)
You don't have to do any of the stuff THIS page says and just do that. It also works on iMacs, so the leopard thing doesnt matter. :DDDDDDD
You can also decide whether or not you need to bother pairing, so, once again, you dont need to do anything on this page :D

Sat Jul 3 12:05:48 2010: 8779   TonyLawrence


what do you do if you don't have internet (on your phone)?

This has nothing to do with internet.

Sat Jul 3 12:11:10 2010: 8780   TonyLawrence


You don't have to do any of the stuff THIS page says

That's for sharing your files. No, you don't HAVE to pair - nor do you need passwords on anything and you can just leave your computer at a table in a coffee shop and it will be there when you get back.

Mon Jul 26 19:04:18 2010: 8859   Alikary


YAY!! Thanks a million!! Worked like a charm. I am a Verizon customer and own a LG NV2! WOrked perfectly!! Thanks!

Thu Aug 19 10:53:52 2010: 8916   Joachim


The settings described at (link) did the job for me after all attempts to "get" from the mac and "send" from the phone failed.

Of course you'll have to turn those settings off again when taking your computer to an internet café or some other place with bluetooth devices which you don't want to share anything with.
But I sure prefer this to running about in search of the appropriate USB cable or wasting my time on Nokia/T-Mobile manuals and customer support when I just want to email some holiday pics.

Thu Aug 19 11:39:09 2010: 8917   TonyLawrence


I don't know why people keep saying that - I do not have to turn that on to get pictures from my phone. However - if you are having trouble and turning that on makes it work for you, that's the way to do it.

Wed Sep 22 18:26:39 2010: 8990   JohnMcCandless


Nokia 2760 to MY Mac, impossible. No such option were available, however it did try to connect but continues to fail.
Time to buy a different phone.

Tue Oct 26 19:51:40 2010: 9069   DFX


After I transfered videos from cell to mac, the videos had no audio. I can't figure out why.

Thu Nov 25 11:35:42 2010: 9135   anonymous


this totally worked
thanks !

Tue Nov 30 18:59:11 2010: 9139   anonymous


Hi, great article on linking via bluetooth to a Mac, but I've encountered a "snag" that I cannot figure out. I can connect my phone (Samsung Flight) to my work Mac but am unable to browse device to transfer images. I continually get the message "The connection failed or closed" and I am unable to reconnect. Do you know what I can do to fix this situation?

Tue Nov 30 19:15:08 2010: 9140   TonyLawrence


Did you read what I said just above the comments?

Before you leave a comment, please read ALL the comments. If this doesn't work for you, I CAN'T HELP YOU and quite possibly no one else can either. READ THE COMMENTS!

Sun Jan 2 15:41:44 2011: 9191   JP


Merci! Ça fonctionne très bien :)

Sun Jan 30 00:17:36 2011: 9258   BN


HI Tony,
Yes, I have read all the comments before creating this comment :-) I just purchased a new iPhone 4. I am trying to "get" all files (contacts, pics, vids, etc...) from my (almost) 2 yr old Samsung Eternity. I have done so previously without incident. Now, When I try to "get" files from the phone, the "get" button is greyed out and only the "send" button is accessible. Could the phone (Samsung) be fried and inaccessible?
Thanks for your expertise!

Mon Feb 14 22:38:11 2011: 9312   RET


Wow, that all worked without a hitch! A first for me, Thanks!

Wed Sep 14 02:36:38 2011: 9835   anonymous


One question please, (i read already the comments)
I want to use Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset with my mac OS X 10.5.8. I browse for the device and i can pair it, but asap i try to use it, it disconnects. I try to reconnect it (by browsing for it again but the message "The device does not have the necessary services" appear. I try to reconnect but cant so it doesnt work....
Please help me out with this :(

Wed Sep 14 10:32:32 2011: 9837   TonyLawrence


I have no idea. I suggest you call or email Plantronics.

Wed Oct 19 05:23:20 2011: 10042   anonymous


I can bluetooth anything on my Macbook on any NON smart phone...but when I try to bluetooth files from my driod or iphone I get the error "this device does not have the necessary services". I have downloaded the app for the driod--"bluetooth file transfer" and it works fine, a bit slow, but it works. I now use DROPBOX for all file transfers. It is free and it works great--actually it is amazing!!!! Drop from computer or phone and instantly it is on either device:-)

Wed Oct 19 10:05:42 2011: 10043   TonyLawrence


I absolutely agree - if you can use DropBox, it is a great solution.

See (link)

Sun Oct 30 16:40:13 2011: 10097   anonymous


I'm still struggling through this with 4.6K of one file downloaded so far which I aborted after 5 minutes, but I had the empty folder problem. I went to the phone's bluetooth menu (Settings -> Bluetooth) and there is an "Exchange Folders" option, and I switched it to memory card (SD slot, where most, but not all, of my photos reside). Once I did that, I saw all of the photos on the card, and I was able to choose one and "get," although I seem to be stuck there now. I don't seem to have the same folders visible that I have when I use the USB (such as the music folder), but maybe this will help someone out there.

Thanks for trying to teach us about technology. Let me know when you give up and go back to 2 cans and a string.

Fri Dec 9 00:22:37 2011: 10326   anonymous


Ugh, I'm using a Sidekick 4G from T-Mobile and I've don't this before (on a different mac.. an air one model year older than mine), so I know how to get to the 'browse device part' ... but then all the folders are empty! And I can't send from my device to my computer, because the mac rejects it! What do I do?!

Fri Dec 9 01:21:04 2011: 10329   TonyLawrence


Can't help you, sorry.

Sigh. I keep saying this over and over but people keep asking. I DON'T KNOW WHY YOUR PHONE DOESN'T WORK. If I did, I'd be happy to help you, but I DO NOT KNOW.

Fri Jan 20 19:44:49 2012: 10487   Cyntone


I found your advice very useful in that I read through all the comments and found that the anonymous comment on 28 Dec 2009 regarding making the files visible to bluetooth worked perfectly, enabling me to transfer photos from my Samsung Galaxy Ace to my macbook Air. Thank you so much

Thu Sep 12 17:08:32 2013: 12310   anonymous


Great and easy to use but where do my photos show up on my MacAir? I transferred them from my Samsung phone and they went fine but I cannot find them on my Mac Air

Thu Sep 12 17:37:39 2013: 12311   TonyLawrence


Your question is completely unrelated to this article, but:

If you dragged them FROM the phone, they are wherever you dragged them to.

If you had your phone SEND them, that's up to the phone: I'd check Pictures and Documents.

Fri Sep 13 18:10:25 2013: 12312   anonymous


When trying to access my Music folder, it says there is a general error. I can access all other parts of the phone (pictures, movies, etc.)

Fri Sep 13 19:24:37 2013: 12313   TonyLawrence


No ideas about that, sorry.


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