Can I upgrade my Mac's Bluetooth with a dongle?

Dear all,

here’s the question of the day:

I have a mid 2010 Mac Mini server with Bluetooth 2. I need to have at least BT 4 because I have a few BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) Flic buttons I would like to connect to it and they are not seen (I suppose that is the reason).

Would simply buying a dongle do the trick or is there something I am missing?
If I can go the dongle way, do you have any suggestion on how to choose one?


I tried using a Bluetooth 4.0 dongle with my old 2012 Mac Pro. While it technically “worked,” the results were not great. For example, when listening to music through Bluetooth headphones, the music would stutter from time to time. Also, my AirPods would randomly disconnect. I installed an upgraded internal Bluetooth module. That worked better, but there were times when my wireless trackpad was unresponsive.

I’ve also had better luck with internal upgrades than dongles in the past. I added Bluetooth 4.0 to a late 2011 17-inch MBP by swapping in a Bluetooth module from a mid 2012 15-inch MBP. And probably owing to the fact that it wasn’t even a third-party component but an official Apple one, I had no hiccups with it at all.

Thank you both for your replies. I have found a Hideez dongle with positive reviews, even for older machines. I’ll try that and report back. Should it not work I will see if I can still get my hands on a compatible BT internal module.

Yes, please do let us know how it goes. You may already know this, but you’ll need to use Apple’s “Bluetooth Explorer” utility to change the default Bluetooth device to the new Bluetooth dongle.

Ah, no, I did not know at all! Thanks!

Where do I find that?

You’ll want to download the “Additional Tools for Xcode 13.3” from Apple’s Developer site.Here’s a walkthrough of how to change the default Bluetooth device.

Thanks again!
A bit more complicated than I hoped, but let’s see how I get on.

The adapter will take a few weeks to get here, I’ll let you know if it works for me as soon as I have it!

The adapter has been sent, let’s see how long it takes to get here.

Quick question: on this computer I am using a Logitech keyboard, with integrated touchpad (the Mini is my media center). The keyboard has its own BT dongle. I did not have to select anything, just plug the dongle into the Mini and the keyboard was immediately recognised. I keep the Mini in sleep mode and it never looses the connection.

Do you think that selecting a different BT as per link you posted will affect my Logitech keyboard connection?

I don’t think so, especially since the keyboard uses its own a dongle.

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Hi there!

The dongle is here, I have yet to try it. I’m reading the Amazon reviews (which also contain useful info) and I was wondering if you see any problem in proceeding as follows (instead of going through the developer tools as you indicated).

From an Amazon review:

Fist go the Hideez website and find the how to set up Bluetooth Dongle for a Mac. There are 2 ways to switch from your internal Bluetooth module to the Dongle.

The first is using Bluetooth Explorer (BTE), this is a very simple method that works with many other dongles. Unfortunately when you restart your computer you will have to open up BTE and change the settings every time.

But the better way, and where this dongle becomes a more interesting purchase is that you can use the terminal and type in:
sudo nvram bluetoothHostControllerSwitchBehavior=always
Then you just type in your password and restart. This method works from that point on. No need to open up BTE every restart. If you want to remove this change then go to terminal and type:
sudo nvram -d bluetoothHostControllerSwitchBehavior


I’ll answer my own question: the dongle works great!

Inserted into the 2010 mini server, followed their instructions here: How to use Hideez Bluetooth Dongle on macOS - Hideez Dongle (EN), including the one concerning the terminal line.

BT upgraded to 4.0, including LTE, which is what I needed for my Flic buttons (smart buttons, for anyone interested

It did not work with 10.12, but worked like a charm under 10.13.

I’m a very happy bunny and I didn’t need BTE!
My Logitech keyboard stayed connected all along with its own dongle.

I simply love how old Macs can still do some much and receive an upgrade for a few euros!