Bluetooth Problems on OSX Leopard with Mighty Mouse and Apple Wireless Keyboard

Update 2009-10-18: It seems like this is no longer an issue for me with Snow Leopard.  Don’t know why, but it stopped happening on my MacBook once I upgraded.  I got a new iMac at work and installed Snow Leopard with the free upgrade disk that came with it.  I have the same setup, a mighty mouse and wireless keyboard.  I’ve not yet had the problem.  The only issue is once in a while when coming out of sleep I need to restart bluetooth for it to detect the mouse/keyboard.  This happens rarely though, maybe once every 10 sleeps or so.  I hope they backport this fix, whatever it is to Leopard for people who don’t plan to upgrade to Snow Leopard.

Many people with OSX Leopard have been experiencing a number of problems with Bluetooth. Apple has released several patches trying to remedy these issues, the latest of which was with this week’s 10.5.8 update. Being skeptical of success–10.5.7 included Bluetooth fixes that didn’t help–I updated yesterday and crossed my fingers. Well, today I can tell you, to no surprise, I’m still having Bluetooth issues with my MacBook while using a Mighty Mouse and Apple wireless keyboard. I’m assuming other also are in the same boat as me, so let’s take look at what’s going on.

Heck, if this was a $399 Dell, I’d not be as fuming over this issue, but it’s not.  It’s a premium priced laptop using it’s own companies premium price peripherals.  And not some weird, uncommon peripherals–it’s their top of the line freaking keyboard and mouse.  It’s not like Apple has to deal with 1000’s of different bluetooth keyboards and mice… isn’t this the sort of thing they defend there closed platform OS against Windows and Linux by promising this silly crap won’t happen?  Maybe they need to get IKEA to lend them one of those robots that test the softness of their beds after 100,000 presses of a 500lbs weight on it. Enough ranting, let’s look at the meat of the issue.

First, let’s look at my system:

Hardware: 2GHz MacBook, Core 2 Duo, model number A1278.
Operating System: Mac OS X 10.5.8 (Leopard)
Bluetooth Chip: Broadcom firmware version 180 (368)
Apple Bluetooth Software Version: 2.1.8f2
Bluetooth Devices: Apple Mighty Mouse (model A1197), Apple Wireless Keyboard (model A1255)

Pretty standard, all Apple products.

Some quick simple definitions of words I’ll be using:

  • Associated: A device has been recognized and added to the list of devices the Mac is able to connect to.  You have to associate a new bluetooth device to your Mac in order to use it.  For keyboards, association usually requires entering a code on the wireless keyboard.
  • Connected: When an associated device is active and should able to ‘talk’ to your Mac.  For a keyboard, this means keystrokes should be getting sent to the Mac and for your wireless mouse it would mean button click and positioning information would be getting sent.  Connected devices also sometimes report battery status if they require batteries to function.

Now let’s look at the different way’s Bluetooth devices fail on this system. I’m going to categorize the different ones I’ve encountered and the work-arounds used to get everthing working again.

  1. Bluetooth Devices Freeze, but Still Appear Connected: This is by far the most common failure mode.  Basically, at seemingly random moments, both my Mighty Mouse and Wireless Keyboard will stop responding at the same time.  The laptop’s keyboard and trackpad will still function.  When I check the status of the bluetooth devices, they are both show to still be associated and connected.  The fact that this error occurs with both devices at the same time strongly leads me to believe it is not the devices that have problems but OS X. Ways to fix:
    1. Usually turning bluetooth off then on in the menu bar clears the problem and the mouse and keyboard begin working again.
    2. On the wacky side, I’ve also found that when this error occurs, you can turn on and off your Airport Wifi and it will clear the bluetooth problem as well (very interesting).
    3. Going into a terminal and issuing a SIGHUP (kill -1) to the blued seems to work as well.
    4. Of course, a full rebooting of the machine works.  Simply logging out and logging back into an account will not however.  You’ll notice if you log out you’ll not be able to type or move your mouse via bluetooth on the login screen.
  2. Bluetooth Devices Freeze, and are no Longer Connected: Though much rarer than the first problem category, this type of issue makes much more sense–even if it is still frustrating.  Both devices will no longer show up as connected, but they still appear on the associated list.  Can be fixed by the same way as problem category 1.
  3. Mighty Mouse Moves Cursor, but Clicks do not Register: This is a funky bug.  The wireless keyboard seems to work fine and moving my Mighty Mouse will cause the cursor to move on the screen.  However, if I try to click anything with the Mighty Mouse (right, left, or scroll ball) nothing happens.  For example, if I roll over the dock, I’ll get the Icon animations, but I can’t select anything, etc… Ways to fix:
    1. If you go to the trackpad on the laptop and click on something, then go back to the Mighty Mouse, it frequently clears the problem and the Mighty Mouse clicks will begin to register.
    2. Restarting bluetooth also seems to clear the issue most of the time.

The good thing about these issues is that most of the time simply turning on/off bluetooth and the problem is suppressed for a few hours.  However, occasionally when one of these error states occur, nothing you do short of rebooting will fix the issue.   My latest issue was a category 3, one day after installing the update for 10.5.8.  This time clicking the trackpad on the laptop didn’t clear the issue with the mighty mouse.   I tried turning on/off the bluetooth and that caused the mouse to no longer move in addition to having it’s clicks ignored, plus it dropped my keyboard.  Both devices were reported as ‘connected’ in the bluetooth manager.  I had to do a full restart of the system to get everything working again.

Online there have been many suggested fixes or work arounds, none which have been successful such as:

  • Turn off any/all of the options in the bluetooth advanced settings like “Allow Bluetooth devices to wake…” or “Bluetooth-PDA-Sync”
  • Reset the PRAM (this is the Mac support fix of choice for everything… “ah, you’re smelling something burning… let’s try to reset your PRAM”)

Here are some lengthy Mac Forums following this issue so you can see you’re not alone in your frustration.

A few other links to other places with folks who are dealing with this:

BTW, let’s wait, pay $39, the hope for Snow Leopard to fix the problem is not my idea of a successful fix.  Feel free to comment with any other categories you think you may be seeing that isn’t in the above.

23 comments to Bluetooth Problems on OSX Leopard with Mighty Mouse and Apple Wireless Keyboard

  • Charles Wilson

    Apple also suggests resetting the Power Manager by powering down, pulling the power and battery, holding the power button for 30 seconds, plugging everything back in and powering back up. My bluetooth mouse went offline the other day and the system profiler showed the device as unavailable. Annoying but workable.

    • Yes, I check online for various fixes and spoke with many layers of Apple support, doing this and resetting the PRAM many times. Unfortunately, this only gives the same results as restarting the system. On startup, it’s just as likely to have problems as if you just turned on/off bluetooth without restarting. For a $1500 laptop with recent peripherals by the same manufacturer whose claim to fame is ‘it just works’, it’s more than annoying–it’s unacceptable.

  • Everest Mokaeff

    I’ve had the same problem with my mac pro. At first I was successfully pairing my motorola cell with leopard but at some point, i guess on 10.5.5 update, my mac started crushing every time i tried to connect to my cell via bluetooth. I did try everything including mac os re-install. Bluetooth works fine for me if i have 10.5 mac os. Any attempt to update renders my bluetooth option unworkable. I can sync thru usb cable though – its ok with me. Now i wonder if there is a sideline solution for mac may be from 3d party to use bluetooth capacity at full?

    • If you have time to attempt the 10.5.8 update I’m finding that it works significantly better–I’m having much fewer bluetooth issues (the random drop offs have seemed to gone away).

      • Everest Mokaeff

        Tnanks, but i’m armed to my teeth with all updates currently available. Furthermore, i’ve got my hands recently on snow leopard. It didnt work for me either. Sooner or later i’ll sort of find the solution. the sooner the better.

  • Ben

    Gah! Glad I’m not the only one with issues! Just connected my screen up to my macbook today, haven’t done it in a week, and turned it on and turned on bluetooth and my mouse and keyboard dont work at all! It says they’re connected, iStumbler also says they’re connect but they dont work! Grrrrrrr No reset, no nothing gets them to work! Everything was working happily last week, nnoooooooooooooo

  • Ash

    Steve Jobs can go shove it, and Ballmer and Gates, I just want a feckin pc that works, those money making c*nts have defiled the pc world with cheap overpriced crap and blame consumers for everything that goes wrong. We should be beyond dodgy keyboards now that pc’s have been around a while. 64 bit means sh*t when you cant type, Core i7 is useless if i cant click to open an app. F***ckin c********nts

  • Michael

    Well at least it’s not just me! I do expect much better from Apple. Even before I installed Snow Leopard things were going awry from time to time. Now it’s just plain silly.

    Not happy. Thanks for the info and solidarity though.

  • I am sitting here with a brand new just unwrapped MacBook Pro 17″. At first bluetooth were on and I were able to turn it off. But after updating to 10.6.1 it is always on. The “on/off” is greyed out staying at on…

    Just as my Mac Pro does a lot of time. After some restarts I can turn it off again and after some more, it on and greyed out…

    I hope Apple does something about it.

  • Shawn

    As one of the many stricken with this problem, I am curious if Snow Leopard fixed the BT issues?

    • I’ve been running Snow Leopard on both my home MacBook and a new iMac at work for about 3 weeks. Both have same setup: a bluetooth mighty mouse and an apple wireless keyboard. So far, so good. The only related issue is that once or twice when it waking up from sleep I needed to restart the bluetooth–but this has not yet happened while actively working.

  • Kelly

    My goodness. I have to wonder if this is a way for Apple to force people to upgrade to Snow Leopard. Not only to I suffer from a failed SuperDrive (a VERY common ailment, too common for such an expensive piece of hardware) but now my Mighty Mouse has stopped registering clicks (actually, it does register them, just only as if the Command-Key was held down when clicking).

    Restarting, restarting bluetooth…neither work. They did work when I first experienced the problem but less and less so over time and now not at all. I’ve been with Macs since 1985 and while this is not their worst phase for quality control it’s pretty close to bottom. Steve seems more interested in style than anything else and that hurts us who know better.

    • Jim

      It’s not their way to get people to upgrade since I never had a problem with my Mighty mouse until I upgraded to Snow Leopard. I have a Mac Mini. BT keyboard has never had a problem. The mouse now, I can move it but not click or randomly Buttons 3 & 4 just stop working.

  • Carolyn

    I have had a problem with the Mighty Mouse not clicking in Snow Leopard 10.6.2 and Windows 7. I followed the procedure below from a forum when I was searching the internet. I tried it in Windows 7 and then in Snow Leopard. Now the mouse works with both operating systems. I was amazed how easy it was and hope it can help someone else.

    “here’s how to fix it;
    1. Turn on your mouse and then go to ‘Add Bluetooth Device’ under Control Panel.

    2. Wait until Windows detects your mouse.

    3. Now, do not just go and click �connect� .

    4. Use another USB mouse and right click on the Mighty Mouse iconand go to ‘properties’ -> ‘services’ Tab.

    5. Give Windows some timeto detect the services. Now it will list some HID services.

    6. Just check the box and click ‘Apply’. This will start installing the driver and magically the wireless Mighty Mouse starts working.

    7. Disconnect the USB mouse and you can use the wireless mouse.

    you may wont to change the scroll setting, as out of the box it’s a bit too fast. try changing it to ‘1’.

    InsanelyMac Protégé

  • john wilkin

    New 17″ Mac laptop recently stopped pairing with SuperMouse and other wireless mice. Running 10.5.8. Is this the same problem and is there a definitive fix? Thanks.

  • Mags

    What Carolyn says worked for me – BUT ONLY IF I ‘DIVORCED’ THE MOUSE FROM THE MAC FIRST. Then it will “marry’ the PC – I did it with OS 10.6.4 – and Windows 7.
    But – I tried and tried before reading all the forums and it wouldn’t be recognized by the PC until it was REMOVED FROM THE MAC FIRST.

  • John Burgess

    Thought the bluetooth problems were history after upgrading to Snow Leopard on my iMac, with keyboard & mouse working flawlessly. Turns out that’s only if I never want to put the machine to sleep. About one in five sleeps, bluetooth triggers a kernel panic (dutifully logged by the crash reporter) and the iMac has to be re-booted, so the bluetooth peripherals have gone back in the cupboard. What a bloody disgrace!

  • Johan-Martijn Flaton

    It’s a year later now. I’m working on a brand-new Mac Pro, with Snow Leopard 10.6.8 and I’m still stick with Bluetooth’s erratic behavior. Keyboard works fine, but the Trackpad & Mighty Mouse keeps falling off the edge; it drives me stark-raving mad! The System does detect the mouse and trackpad, but it’s Connecting spinning wheel turns and turns around.

    Nothing good will come of this.


  • John Temperly

    Approaching May 2012 using a 2009 MacBook Pro with Lion (latest build) and I have been having this problem, on & off, for months now and it has appeared again this morning – typing this on my trusty 8 yr old PC running Windows 7.

    I thought Macs were supposed to ‘just work’ :-(

  • Martin Young

    My Mighty Mouse problems included: fierce battery use; frequent disconnects; gross instability of pointer–it’d wiggle, swoon, and misbehave all over the place.

    My solution? First did a Google to find out that I was not the only MMM sufferer. Two considered a few “get into the system” changes, which frighten me. Finally, I bought a Targus Wireless Mouse for Mac from Amazon.

    Interestingly, the Targus Mouse came with a ‘dongle’ that one had to put into a USB port. I obeyed the instructions, and Voila! Not only did the Targus Mouse work, but so did my MMM. I’ve used both mice for four days now without a hitch. And I’ve not had to replace any batteries.

    I’ve used ‘dongles’ before, but never has one been so instantly and observably helpful. Accordingly, I’m forwarding these comments so that others may find similar success with a Targus Moud for Mac.

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