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10.7: Show Bluetooth signal strength System 10.7
It's often useful to know the signal strength of a Bluetooth connection. For instance, my Magic Trackpad becomes much more responsive when it's on the left-hand side of my MacBook Pro, rather than the right. It took me some time to figure this out, and it would have been a lot easier if I could have easily measured the signal strength myself. Until now OS X hasn't given any easy way to show the signal strength.

But 10.7 adds an easy display of the signal strength! Go into System Preferences » Bluetooth. The window show a list of all your connected Bluetooth devices, one per line. Click on a device and then press the Option key, and a bar graph and number will appear on the right showing the current strength. These are displayed and recalculated as long as you hold down the Option key. Like Wi-Fi signal strengths, the number is a negative integer, and numbers closer to zero are better. For instance, -50 indicates a strong connection, while -80 is very weak.

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. I also verified this is not available in 10.6.8.]
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10.7: Show Bluetooth signal strength | 9 comments | Create New Account
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10.7: Show Bluetooth signal strength
Authored by: mr_kitty on Sep 20, '11 08:14:28AM

In 10.7, if you Option click the bluetooth menubar icon, you get the bt version, name and MAC address.

If you then highlight the connected device, you get the information listed in this hint as well as Role, Address & Battery Level. Or at least you do with my Magic mouse.



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10.7: Show Bluetooth signal strength
Authored by: mholve on Sep 20, '11 11:27:05AM

This works in 10.6.8 also!

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Everything Solaris - http://everythingsolaris.org



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10.7: Show Bluetooth signal strength
Authored by: tinb on Sep 20, '11 01:00:26PM

The menubar feature is also available in 10.6.8!



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10.7: Show Bluetooth signal strength
Authored by: landoncube on Sep 20, '11 08:54:00AM

I love this. Now I can see my readings and confirm that keyboard and trackpad performance is pretty weak at twenty feet.

I am getting -72 Trackpad and -79 Keyboard numbers.



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10.7: Show Bluetooth signal strength
Authored by: bglnelissen on Sep 23, '11 09:29:36AM

I noticed something particular. For most icons you need to hold-down alt and then click, but for TimeMachine you can press down alt after you clicked, this does not work in the other menu's I tried (like: Airport)



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10.7: Show Bluetooth signal strength
Authored by: QLR on Sep 26, '11 11:47:06AM

Try selecting the Perform Tasks button next to the - + buttons and select monitor RSSI. A window pops up with a graph displaying signal strength for the selected device. This will stay on screen as long as the prefferences app is running. Only tried this in Lion but I'm hoping this will help me find out why the trackpad becomes unresponsive and "jerky" at times.



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10.7: Show Bluetooth signal strength
Authored by: hankk on Sep 27, '11 09:46:26PM

I've seen exactly the same behavior with my Magic Trackpad under 10.7. For me, every few hours it'll get very jerky. Resetting it works, as does waiting a minute or two.

Using the regular trackpad on my MBP, I was able to get to System Prefs and see that the Bluetooth signal strength was *not* the issue. Strength of -59 was right where it is when it's working normally.



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10.7: Show Bluetooth signal strength
Authored by: QLR on Sep 28, '11 03:46:56PM

Looks as though this trackpad issue may have more than one cause. My trackpad worked fine in Snow Leopard but suddenly started to lag, skip and jerk at times. This may have started after an OSX update as reported by many others in various forums, but I can't be sure. This problem has continued in Lion. However when the trackpad plays up I found that moving it a couple of inches resolved the problem for a while. This got me looking into signal strength and indeed I found that my BT signal is way down around the -76dBm to -80dBm level much of the time. If I slide the trackpad closer to my MacPro it performs OK immediatly and the signal rises dramatically. When pulled further away the signal drops and the jerkiness returns. I intend trying an external bluetooth antenna to resolve this. I have seen this solution elsewhere for a similar issue with the magic mouse, so fingers crossed.



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10.7: Show Bluetooth signal strength
Authored by: QLR on Sep 30, '11 09:24:00AM

Well folks, thanks for the tip's re bluetooth signal strength. It's helped me to sort out my trackpad unresponsiveness. I have followed the tip at http://www.mcelhearn.com/2007/04/19/apple-bungles-bluetooth-in-mac-pro/ (read all the comments before trying this), and bingo my BT signal strength has rocketed by 30dBm or more and the trackpad so far is as smooth as silk. I'm not 100% certain that this is an error on the part of Apple as the article suggests but it does seem to swap the BT signal to an aerial which is at the front of the mac-pro case rather than underneath. For me the effect is to put the antenna much nearer to my trackpad as the mac pro is under my desk. My airport signal also seems unaffected but as I don't use the mac-pro for wireless I can't be sure that its as strong for wifi connections as it was. Ill post a further comment when I have used the trackpad for a while just to be sure.



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