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Removing a device that won’t remove

May 12, 2021

Short version: New Bluetooth (BT) earbuds, paired OK with laptop, but wouldn’t connect. Discovered that laptop’s BT version was 4.x and the new earbuds required BT 5.x or higher. Purchased BT 5.0 dongle online and waited for it to arrive. Plug and play they said… Not quite… Went down a rabbit hole of disabling other BT devices via Device Manager, and trying to remove the paired, but not connecting earbuds (clicking Remove Device came up with a Remove failed notification). Many reboots and several hours later, I was finally able to remove the pesky earbuds from my devices list so I could start again with the pairing and reconnection, which eventually worked after a bit more faffing around enabling BT devices.

So what did work to remove the earbuds from my devices and BT devices lists? Showing the hidden devices in Device Manager and uninstalling from there. Here’s how:

  1. Open Device Manager (type Device in the Start area on Windows 10, then select Device Manager).
  2. Expand the Bluetooth list. (If your device is not a BT device, then expand the relevant section in Device Manager.)
  3. On the menu, click View, then Show Hidden Devices.
    Device Manager window with the View menu selected and an arrow pointing to the Show Hidden Devices option
  4. Find the problem device that you can’t remove any other way.
  5. Right-click on that device and select Uninstall device.
  6. Go back to your list of BT (or other) devices—with luck, it should now be gone.
  7. Close the Device Manager window.

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