I have a Macbook Pro (late 2011) with the latest OS X (10.9.4) and once in a while the Bluetooth subsystem disappears and the system hangs for a few seconds every ~10 minutes. The icon in the menu bar looks like this:

bluetooth menu icon with line

And there is no Bluetooth system preference anymore:

bluetooth system preference missing

This happens once every 2-3 days and I have no idea what the cause could be.

Question: How can I restart the bluetooth subsystem from the command line to make it available again? Or (more interesting of course) what is the cause of this infrequent hang and how can I heal it completely?

I cannot remember which software I've installed at the time the error started to show, it might have been bootcamp to support a 32 bit windows in a virtual machine or some Citrix software (Citrix Access Gateway)

  • I have just seen this question: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/3610/… and I will report back if that is the solution (resetting the SMC)
    – topskip
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 7:41
  • After resetting the SMC, the problem is still there.
    – topskip
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 17:00

3 Answers 3


Here is the list of all Apple BT symbols and they meaning.

BT symbols

Additional steps:

Log in as different user to see if it is your profile related.

Start in safe mode to see if other applications are making problems

Since you have another major problem with missing BT in sys pref, resetting SMC and PRAM might help.

Use Manual method to ON/OFF the BT

Type Bluetooth in Spotlight

Select Application- Bluetooth Exchange

will bring up a switching window


Last not least, reinstall your OS.

  • Thanks! I'll see if resetting the SMC helps, then I'll try the other steps. It would be nice to see if reloading some kernel extensions or something similar would help switching from "offline" to "off" or "on".
    – topskip
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 8:53
  • see my update for ON/OFF
    – Ruskes
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 9:03

If an SMC "soft" reset doesn't work using the official method, remove the bottom cover and disconnect the battery for a few minutes. I had issues with a non-existent SD card reader on my 2011 MBP, it wasn't recognised in System Profiler and none of the usual resets would make it work.

It wasn't a software issue in my case as booting from an external drive gave exactly the same result. Giving the system a "hard" reset by pulling the battery for a few minutes restored full functionality to the card reader and it's been fine ever since.

This may or may not help in your case but it illustrates the standard SMC reset routine doesn't always clear hardware configuration and management issues.

  • 1.5 days without a crash. This might be a good sign that disconnecting the battery was the solution. I'll report back in two days or so. Thanks!
    – topskip
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 11:02
  • oh well, my hope was too early... /me is crying...
    – topskip
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 19:52

I have re-installed the software on the computer and pulled off the battery, but the problem persists. So I believe it's a hardware issue and there is no solution...

Which means that there is seemingly no answer to my question.

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