iMac Bluetooth dropping / crashing

Over the last year and a half, the bluetooth connection on my iMac would drop connections to my keyboard and mouse. Sometimes they would come back, sometimes the bluetooth icon would go to the squiggly lines showing crashed. It would happen frequently enough that I switched to a wired mouse and kept the keyboard wired as well.

I do have VMWare fusion running and there has been some chatter that it doesn’t play nice, but if I freshly boot the iMac and leave VMWare not running, it still happens.

I have tried chatting with Mac and got to a senior tech support person, but their solution was to delete the configuration files and reconnect the devices. The problem did not resolve. I went the wired approach rather than having to take my iMac into Apple for a service checkout.

Has anyone else ever encountered this with the iMac or have any ideas?

Keeping wired in a wireless world,
– Scotte

I was helping a friend with an Android phone and the software she was using to transfer photos to her MacBook Pro called Android File Transfer (AFT). I installed AFT on my iMac and noticed that the wireless trackpad and keyboard would stop working. After searching the internet I found many people were having the same issues with AFT. After I uninstalled AFT my bluetooth returned to normal. I was running AFT on my iMac with an Android phone I picked up for testing and learning so that I wouldn’t have to put my friends phone and photo library at risk trying different solutions.

Oh, I will try getting rid of that - I don’t have my android device anymore. Thanks!

I assume the Mac support people would have had you try this already but have you reset you NVRAM?. I have resolved Bluetooth issues doing that in the past.

Yes, the first level and second level support had me go through all of that.

Have you checked the console log to see if there are Bluetooth related error messages? Not my area of expertise, but I think searching for bluetoothd would be the place to start.

There is a utility called blueutil available in homebrew that may let you restart Bluetooth when it dies. It might even be possible to automate the restart. A bandaid, admittedly.


blueutil -p 0 && sleep 1 && blueutil -p 1

automatically (?)

Thanks for all the great ideas - yeah, I have my roots in unix so did spend a lot of time scanning all the logs I could find. I did try out blueutil and it occasionally would recover, however, it took a couple of minutes to do so.

There wasn’t anything in the logs to identify a crash.

So things I’ve tried -

  • log scanning
  • blueutil
  • touchpad instead of mouse
  • resetting from bluetooth menu using wired touchpad
  • tech support with Apple, level 1 and level 2
  • resetting NVRAM, SMC, all software updates
  • removing .plist files connected to bluetooth and reconnecting devices
  • removing wireless landline phones from room

I do have a second monitor (LG 5K) that perhaps could be interfering with the radio, but everything could run for days without an issue and then constantly have issues

How about usb 3 devices?
I’ve had trouble with them interfering with a BT mouse.
Perhaps a backup drive (etc.) you connect periodically?

Knowing what model iMac you have could be useful. Have you tried using the Bluetooth devices in another User account? This helps determine if this is a User account or system wide issue. Have you paired a different BT device to your iMac (ie: BT speaker) for testing?

@JohnAtl - interesting idea - I have a usb 3 hub and devices hanging off of it (bose speakers, scanner, yoke and pedals) plus a Drobo and LG 5k via thunderbolt 3

@MacGuyMI - nice idea - I have a 2017 iMac that’s loaded out. I can certainly try running a second account and see what happens. I have paired a bluetooth speaker briefly with the iMac but opted to stick with the Bose)

@Barry Hey there, I removed android file transfer and doubletwist which were left over from my Android days and I haven’t had a bluetooth issue in 3 days (at least keyboard hasn’t had an issue)

I will see what happens over the next couple of days and then check out removing USB devices if I need to or a guest account.

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Thanks for the update, that’s great news.

So a couple of days ago I added the trackpad and mouse back into the mix. So far so good and not a drop. I guess there was something about Android File Transfer and / or DoubleTwist. Guess Android and Apple don’t really play nice together afterall

Hoping I didn’t just jinx the thing…

@scotte ; Was this the solution to your problem eventually?

I have a client that have an identical problem. He have no Andriod devices though. It’s an iMac 2016 and it started to behave a couple of months ago.

It’s extremely hard to find the error with such an intermittent error. I’ll probably have to reinstall his entire setup. :frowning:

Any ideas?

Yes, it had fixed the issue for me


I was using Wireshark on a network question (h/t @ACautionaryTale), and noticed it has Bluetooth capabilities too. If you want to get in the weeds with it.
There are videos on YouTube (of course). Haven’t looked at it myself.