Apple Mac Pro Bluetooth issue solved

Posted by on Sep 19, 2010 in Apple, default, how to, Mac | 13 Comments

If you are using a Mac Pro with wireless Bluetooth devices, particularly a mouse, you may have noticed an annoying lag or stutter in the performance. I bought the Magic Mouse and a wireless keyboard to solve some ergonomic issues. Unfortunately, poor performance made the situation even worse. Now, after having fixed this problem, my wireless devices are working perfectly.

The problem seems to be poor reception from the Bluetooth unit that shipped with my Mac Pro. I solved this by installing a third party Bluetooth usb adapter. In order for the new usb Bluetooth to operate properly, I had to disable the original internal Bluetooth unit. The instructions to disable the Mac Pro’s Bluetooth are below:

Review the procedure for working on your Mac by downloading a manual here.

1. Turn off Mac Pro. Remove power cord. Remove case cover.
2. Remove the processor tray.

 

Mac Pro Processor Tray

3. Find the Bluetooth unit on the motherboard. It is located near the bottom, on the right hand side as you are looking into the case.

 

Mac Pro bluetooth unit

4. Remove the connector that connects the Bluetooth to the motherboard.

 

Mac Pro bluetooth connector

5. Replace processor tray, and close case.

 

bluetooth USB dongle

6. Install a usb Bluetooth adapter.

Above is the tiny IOGear USB 2.1 Bluetooth Micro Adapter GBU421, which seems to work well with my Mac.

Note: I am using an Intel based MacPro4,1, bought in 2009. If you are using an older Mac Pro, you may want to look at this article and this article, as I believe that the configuration is different.

Caveat: While I am fairly certain that the Mac Pro’s internal Bluetooth could use and antenna redesign, given that so many people are having this same issue, I was not able to completely resolve my issue until I moved the usb Bluetooth adapter up onto my Cinema display, which features usb ports, and is a bit closer to the wireless devices. When I placed the adapter on one of the Mac Pro’s USB ports, on the front of the tower, again the result was poor performance. This leads me to believe that there is some interference from my furniture as well.

Note: If you are using a Magic Mouse, Magic Prefs is a must. It greatly expands the functionality of the Magic Mouse.

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13 Comments

  1. Jordan314
    July 12, 2011

    This is awesome, thanks. I have the exact same setup. Moved my macbook pro outside my studio to reduce heat and noise, everything works great except jumpy bluetooth. I have the same cinema display and the same logitech bluetooth dongle plugged in. :) It’s outrageous that apple doesn’t allow you to disable the internal bluetooth with software. Also, I got the stupid “keyboard unrecognized, please press the key to the right of the shift key” dialog when I plugged in the dongle. And I had to use mobile mouse on my iphone to get into the bluetooth menu to delete my magic mouse and trackpad to delete and re-add them.
    Thanks for the help!

  2. John
    August 1, 2011

    Found this via Google and wanted to let you know you saved me from smashing my mac pro and magic mouse to pieces. Your fix works perfectly. Thanks.

    John Robinette

  3. Doug Dolde
    September 14, 2011

    Why don’t the ******* instructions for the IOGear USB 2.1 Bluetooth Micro Adapter GBU421 say anything about removing the connector? They just say plug it in.

  4. Matt
    March 30, 2012

    Thank-you for a well written tutorial (including photos)

    I had a brand new mac pro and was experiencing jerky mouse movement.
    The mac store replaced my mouse but the problem was still there.
    I had read that a USB bluetooth dongle was the only solution, however I was told the USB device will automatically override the internal bluetooth module. This was not true. Each morning when I powered up the computer the mouse was jerky and I’d have to repair it again.

    You tutorial has put this issue to rest once and for all. Thanks.

  5. Dan
    May 8, 2012

    I had similar issue and found changing the channel on my router fixed it, if this helps.

  6. Jeff
    October 6, 2012

    Great suggestion. Thanks so much. I’ve been struggling with erratic Magic Mouse behaviour. Several suggestions on the web including buying a Bluetooth dongle and a couple of calls to Apple support haven’t helped. Disabling the on board Bluetooth by following your article worked fantastic. I’m using a 2010 Mac Pro and a Kinivo BTD-300 bluetooth adapter.
    Thanks again.
    Jeff

  7. Jimenez
    October 9, 2012

    Nice one, seems to have sorted my laggy magic mouse. Hero.

  8. Elliott Balsley
    October 26, 2012

    Actually OS X is supposed to automatically disable the internal bluetooth when you plug in a USB bluetooth dongle. You can verify this by looking in the Bluetooth Explorer app, which is part of Developer Tools, and you can even switch between them using that app. If that’s not working, the USB bluetooth dongle is probably not compatible with the OS. (For example, IOGear GBU421 does not work well with 10.8.)

  9. Shaun
    November 20, 2012

    Well WOW……….
    Apple replaced my entire Mac Pro to try & solve this problem
    But it was still there! The Technician admitted that…
    It is a design fault in the case & the RF inside the case also blocks the bluetooth signal & the more PCI cards you have the more interference you get.
    For instance my Magic Mouse was tolerable until I installed a Black Magic Extreme Video card, the killer was the 2 looped HDMI cables that link the card to the HD HMDI video input & output on a pci slot cover that comes with the card, as soon as I put them in, Bluetooth range was 1 to 2 feet maximum, so then Apple replaced my Bluetooth Module and antenna! STILL NO GOOD!
    So now I have a newer mac pro Dual Quad Core & double the memory at NO CHARGE
    Then it cost me a few hours of research to find this fix online & AU$20 for the pigtail cable to attach the mac Bluetooth module to an external antenna that I took off a WiFi media centre I don’t use (WiFi & Bluetooth are both 2.4G).
    I mounted the antenna between the HDMI input & output connectors as I had no blank spaces left & NOW ALL is PERFECT!
    20 feet range – NEW MAC PRO – EXTRA MEMORY – SPARE BLUETOOTH MODULE.
    I call this a WIN WIN situation. this fix it is the only real world option that give uncompromising functionality as is needed for the type of work done on these machines

  10. Oliver
    November 20, 2012

    Thanks Elliot. That is interesting. I will check into that. My Mac Pro is a 2009 model, and at the time I was working on this, I was fairly convinced that my bt dongle did not override the internal one. But you could be correct, as I only got maximum performance when I moved it up onto my cinema screen, where it still sits today, giving very good performance.

  11. Oliver
    November 20, 2012

    Congrats Shaun. The Mac pro is such a great machine, it’s a shame that so many are frustrated with this. They should train all the techs to understand this problem and assist. Wireless is the only way to go. Am I right?!

  12. Oliver
    November 20, 2012

    Thanks Dan, that is interesting. Hope people will try that too.

  13. Thomas
    November 26, 2012

    Thank you so much for your suggestion! I’ve tried for years now to replace the internal BT with an external USB stick, but I didn’t found out how to bring it into perfect mode. Your description was the key information and now mouse, keyboard and touchpad are working perfectly on my Mac Pro 4.1. Great!

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