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I have an Apple Wireless Keyboard MC184LL/B which I use infrequently, but was using today (on a non-Apple machine).

I attempted to connect it to a new device, unsuccessfully, and now I cannot seem to use it on the original machine or on my MacBook Pro Early 2011 running OS X 10.11. (The MacBook Bluetooth is OK as I can connect to other devices.)

The MacBook sees it, and says "connecting" when I press the pair control, but always fails with Couldn't connect to the device.

I have always found this device frustrating; it came with almost no instructions and there seems to be no on-line manual, although there is a similar keyboard with 3 batteries rather than 2.

When I press the power the green light comes on for a few seconds then goes off.

I possible broke it by attempting to connect without pairing from the new device.

Is there anyway I can reset the keyboard to factory default.

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That's actually a feature, albeit a very poorly documented one.

The Apple Wireless Keyboard refuses attempts to be overtaken by a different host without a deliberate disconnect, physical access by the user, a very long timeout or a manual reset.

Your keyboard model is that of "October 2009", the manual can be found here: https://manuals.info.apple.com/MANUALS/1000/MA1208/en_US/Apple_Wireless_Keyboard_2009_UG.pdf

Page 6 states that you should disconnect (not unpair) your keyboard before connecting (or pairing) it to another computer.

Once the keyboard is no longer in a 'connected' state, it will happily reconnect to any device it has previously been paired to.

So in order to resolve your problem, you should either take your keyboard back to the computer it believes to be connected to (and explicitly disconnect it there) or try the following in order to disconnect it manually:

  • open the "Keyboard" pane in "System Preferences" and choose "Set Up Bluetooth Keyboard..." (or search for devices via the "Bluetooth" pane as an alternative),
  • power off your keyboard by pressing and holding the power button (on its side),
  • release the power button after the indicator light goes out (your keyboard is now in standby mode),
  • press and hold the (same) power button for as long as it takes for your keyboard to be successfully connected by your target computer (the indicator light will blink during the course of this step).

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In case you release the power button too early, i.e. without fully establishing a connection, the keyboard will simply fall back into the mode it was before – still connected to the other computer, safe from being overtaken. :)

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    It's also not unlikely that your keyboard has disconnected in the meantime. This solely depends on wether the other computer is within range and keeping the connection. Also see this answer: superuser.com/questions/560893/… – sekdiy May 10 '16 at 9:58
  • Thanks, I am now reconnected to my Mac. The links helped, although the detail has changed since 2013. Thanks also for the manual - searching for it failed miserably. – Milliways May 10 '16 at 12:49
  • Apple and manuals – a different story. I used MacTracker (mactracker.ca) to make the link between model number and product name. Any details within my answer that are outdated or need clarification? – sekdiy May 10 '16 at 15:53
  • "open bluetooth assistant and have it search for devices" There is not actually a "Search". "Open Bluetooth Preferences" never saw the keyboard, I had to go to "Keyboard" and "Setup Bluetooth Keyboard". The menus in the link have presumably changed since 2013, but the underlying logic still worked. – Milliways May 11 '16 at 1:33
  • Okay, tanks. I clarified that in my answer and added pictures to make the locations clearer. – sekdiy May 11 '16 at 10:51
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I had to hold down the keyboard power button while pressing Pair on the mac to get this working. Thanks for the tutorial!

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