How to Pair an Already Paired Apple Bluetooth Keyboard

I discovered a little trick when pairing an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and I thought I’d share my notes in hopes that I could help someone in a similar situation. Let me know in the comments if this helped you!

I borrowed a cubemate’s Bluetooth Apple Keyboard to use with my Mac while I’m at my work desk. He had previously paired the keyboard to one of his iPads1 and did not un-pair it before giving it to me.

I was able to set up the keyboard just fine, but every once in a while it refuses to pair to my Mac. I power the keyboard on, the green light appears for a moment and then goes dark. While I have yet to confirm my suspicions, I believe that it’s trying to pair with the previous iPad and in certain cases succeeding.

I discovered that if you hold the power button down while trying to pair the keyboard to a new device it will force the keyboard into “discovery” mode.

With the keyboard off2 press and hold the power button. Don’t let go. Now open the “Bluetooth Setup Assistant” under “Set up Bluetooth Device” via the Bluetooth menu item.3

Select your keyboard from the list of discovered devices and select Continue. If all goes well you should be prompted to enter the randomly generated 8 digit pass code to pair the keyboard. Once you see this screen you can stop holding down the Power button and continue the pairing process.


  1. Not that he has a 1,000 at his desk. He helps to set up and configure them for enterprise use.

  2. Hold the power button down for a few seconds until it turns off.

  3. Or from the Bluetooth Preference Pane in System Settings, select the + icon in the lower left.

28 thoughts on “How to Pair an Already Paired Apple Bluetooth Keyboard”

  1. Chris, this was just what I needed. When your Apple keyboard responds normally to keystrokes while using the arrow keys, and when you can use the F1 and F2 button to adjust the brightness, but at the same time, all CHARACTER KEYS are not working at all, you just start to wonder what’s wrong with your equipment, especially since your Mac reports that the keyboard is perfectly connected. Well, you are right: ‘re-pairing’ = repairing!

    You brought the answer, and you have phrased it very clearly, so that’s why I can now type this message again.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Matthieu Quere.

  2. Worked for me. Keyboard now paired with iPad – many thanks. Another query if I may: is there a quick way of temporarily switching back to the onscreen keyboard – turning off the keyboard power button didn’t seem to work!

  3. Wow, you helped me so much, this has been an irritating problem for me, being an apple superuser with various products around, often in Bluetooth mode.

  4. Very good. I’ve been apple for 25 years. But..sometimes they are really irritating…such as WHY is it a secret how to do this keyboard thing. Come on apple……. geezee…..

  5. thanks! although I thought I tried this before, did not do it correctly, I found out this technique works for similar problems on many bluetooth paired devices. (Holding down the power button while looking for bluetooth devices.

  6. Thanks so much. I needed it to switch the keyboard between an upstairs and downstairs Apple TV. I suspect good ol’ Apple wanted me to buy another keyboard.

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