How to Fix: Bluetooth Won’t Turn Off on Mac

Whether it is for security, to prevent interference such as on an airplane, or that you just don’t want your Mac connecting to Bluetooth devices for some other reason, the ability to completely turn it off is a convenient feature for many. 

For some, this feature does not seem to be working properly. This was mainly an issue seen in macOS High Sierra and it has a very simple fix. If you are still seeing this in the newer macOS versions there are some other things we can try to resolve the problem.

My name is Eric and I have been working with computers of all kinds for decades. Over the years I have spent time troubleshooting many problems like this. Sometimes these problems are difficult to fix but in this case, there is most likely a simple solution.

Stick with me if you would like to troubleshoot this problem on your machine. Hopefully, we can find a quick solution for you.

Issue with High Sierra

This was a common issue that was seen by users using a certain version of High Sierra. If you are seeing this issue and your Mac is still running High Sierra (find out which macOS version your Mac is using here), then the best solution is to update your system to the latest macOS

It turns out that this was a bug in macOS in which Bluetooth actually is turned off, but it is still showing that it is on. A simple reboot will then show the status correctly and you can see that it is not really on.

This is a bug that was later fixed with macOS updates, so if you are able to update your machine then that is the best bet, but if you are not able to update, try turning the Bluetooth off and then rebooting and you should now see that it indicates that it is turned off.

If that does not solve your problem, then you may try the following steps.

Warning: The steps below will remove all of the devices from your Bluetooth connection list and they will need to be re-paired.

Step 1: Go to Finder and type in the search field.

Step 2: It should find this file under Libraries/Preferences. Once it has been found, delete it or drag it to the trash can.

Step 3: Reboot your Mac and you should now see that Bluetooth is turned off. If it is not, try switching it off again and it should remain off.

Once your system restarts, it will create a new file. Sometimes this file can get corrupted and cause Bluetooth issues. By deleting it and regenerating a new one, we can often fix the problem.

Other macOS

Although not as common, this issue can pop up on other more recent macOS versions. In this case, it is probably not a bug in macOS but some other glitch or file corruption. For this, we’ll take a look at some possible solutions starting with the simplest first.

If the solutions above did not work for your High Sierra macOS you may try these as well.

Solution 1: Reboot

It’s probably the simplest solution and it’s always worth a try before you do anything else. Try restarting your system and see if that fixes the problem. If not, you can move on to the next possible fix.

Solution 2: Update macOS

Whenever you are troubleshooting an issue like this, it is always wise to ensure that your mac has the latest updates. You never know when a glitch or other issue will show up due to not having your system up to date. Check for updates and if needed install them.

Solution 3: Reset the Bluetooth Module

A simple reset may possibly fix this issue. Just follow the steps below.

Step 1: Press the Shift+Option buttons and then click on the Bluetooth symbol on the upper right side of the screen. 

If you don’t see a Bluetooth symbol on your screen you can enable it by going to System Preferences, click on Bluetooth and then select Show Bluetooth in the menu bar.

Step 2: Select Reset the Bluetooth Module. For some, this will be under a submenu called Debug.

Step 3: Once the reset is complete, check to see if you can now turn Bluetooth off. If not try rebooting your Mac again to see if that works.

Solution 4: Disconnect All Bluetooth Devices

Sometimes an existing Bluetooth connection can prevent you from turning it off. There’s an easy way to quickly remove all devices which will in turn then let you finally turn it off. Just follow the steps below.

Keep in mind that this will disconnect all of your paired Bluetooth devices, so you will have to pair them again if you want to use them in the future. Also if you are using a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse, these will be disconnected as well.

Step 1: Press the Shift+Option buttons and then click on the Bluetooth symbol on the upper right side of the screen. 

If you don’t see a Bluetooth symbol on your screen you can enable it by going to System Preferences, click on Bluetooth and then select Show Bluetooth in the menu bar.

Step 2: Select Remove All Devices. For some, this will be under a submenu called Debug.

Step 3: Click on the OK button to accept and continue. All of your Bluetooth devices will be disconnected and removed from the computer.

Step 4: Once the devices have been removed, go ahead and reboot and hopefully you will now be able to turn off Bluetooth.

Solution 5: Reset NVRAM or PRAM

Resetting your NVRAM/PRAM can often resolve problems when your system is acting glitchy. Just follow the quick steps below to try this.

Note: This only works on some Macs. On Macs with an Apple Silicone chip NVRAM/PRAM cannot be reset. It is reset automatically every time you reboot and the data is rebuilt on startup.

Step 1: Shut down your Mac.

Step 2: Turn it back on and immediately press and hold down the Option + Command + P + R keys all at the same time until you hear the startup sound.

Once your Mac starts back up, check to see if you can now turn off your Bluetooth.

Solution 6: Reset SMC

This can also help resolve system glitches similar to the previous steps of resetting NVRAM/PRAM, but if you have a Mac with Apple Silicone, you won’t be able to do this. It is done automatically every time you reboot your system.

There are different methods of doing this depending on the type of Mac you are using. Take a look at the recommendations from Apple Support to see how to do this with your system.

Final Words

There are many reasons why you may need to turn off your Mac’s Bluetooth and when you are unable to do that, it can be very frustrating. This is caused by a bug in older macOS versions or a glitch in newer systems. 

I hope one of the steps above will provide a solution to your Bluetooth problem. 

As usual, let me know if you have any questions. If you have seen similar problems and know of other solutions, please share them with us. We would love to hear from you! 

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  • Nate

    Using a very high quality meter, I’ve noticed a lot of EM radiation coming from my new M1 Macbook with Bluetooth and WiFi turned off. I then noticed in the log files using Ulbow, what looks to be an AirTag call saying that Bluetooth is off but Bluetooth AirTag is still on. Could you investigate?

    • Jerry Romero

      Hi Nate,

      That is very interesting. I don’t know a whole lot about how AirTag works but I do know that it has some security built-in so that your device will detect someone else’s AirTag and alert you. This is meant to prevent someone from tracking or stalking you by somehow putting an AirTag in your car or your bag or something like that. I am wondering if that security feature still runs and uses Bluetooth even though you may have BlueTooth turned off. I would need to do some more research to see what I can find out.