I have a brand new Bluetooth keyboard (replacing an old one I spilt coffee on) and I would like to pair it with my iMac.

Trouble is, I can't log in to the iMac because the keyboard is not paired.

How do I resolve this chicken-and-egg situation? (I don't have any other keyboards to hand.)

  • Which iMac model do you have? Some have firmware support to ask you to pair the keyboard before boot time, others require you to reboot the device with no physical keyboard connected. Ether way, you should get the bluetooth setup dialog. If you have any old USB keyboard or can use the mouse to reboot the mac, you can avoid pulling the power cord.
    – bmike
    Feb 29, 2012 at 19:43
  • It turns out that he problem was the old, coffee-filled keyboard was still connected by bluetooth to the iMac. Taking the batteries out of it convinced the iMac to start looking for a new keyboard.
    – Nick Moore
    Mar 1, 2012 at 17:30

6 Answers 6


Here is a solution as noted here: How to unpair keyboard without original computer

Their solution was to:

  1. Disconnected everything USB, etc. from the computer.

  2. Restart the iMac while putting the new/different keyboard into discovery mode, and wait for the iMac to detect it.

The deal is you have to unplug ALL USB devices, have your wireless keyboard and mouse turned on, and restart. The system sees that there are no input devices and searches for them. Then asks you to type a passcode and hit return.

  • Thanks, it took a minute at the password prompt before it recognized my trackpad and keyboard. I had to restart the trackpad at the password prompt to login to my account.
    – Paul Solt
    Aug 22, 2012 at 15:34
  • Yup. Thanks a million. I had a USB mouse plugged in and it wouldn’t recognize anything.
    – Gezim
    Jun 1, 2020 at 4:15

If you have the Apple Keyboard 2 which has the Lightning port on the back of the keyboard, all you need to do is connect the USB -> Lightning cord to the computer and it will just like a normal wired keyboard.

Refer to: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201178


This is only true if you have already selected "check for bluetooth keyboard/mouse at startup" Otherwise you have to connect a USB mouse and keyboard

  • I don't see this option in the settings menu anywhere on Big Sur 11.4. Where can I find it? Jul 17, 2021 at 15:51

I just had this frustrating problem. Simultaneously pressing the command key and the power button worked for me.

  • I was using a wireless keyboard and somehow it got disconnected and the in built keybiard was disable now i was left with no other option but to enable the inbuilt keyboard. I just opened the macbook with command+power button it worked for me. Thank you đź‘Ś Aug 5, 2020 at 20:03

i just bought a secondhand mac mini and the seller installed Monterey and had it paired with his wireless apple keyboard. when i got it home it wouldn’t pair wi the my wireless Matius brand keyboard and plugging the keyboard in doesn’t work (seems the usb connection is simply for charging not for usb comms which is bazar).

Thé Matius keyboard has three wireless connection butta so you can set it up with three different devices and to pair you hold one of those buttons down for a few seconds and it will start blinking and continue for about 40 seconds or until it successfully pairs with a new device at which point it stops blinking.

i can put the keyboard into pairing mode no possibles the issue is with the mini not interested in pairing with devices.

i suspect if i reinstalled macOS overnight i would be able to pair it.

i had tu is same problem last time i bought a new mac mini. you’d think apple would have a ios app to be a remote keyboard or some way of resolving this using another apple device. or just an on screen keyboard that can pop up (like the old key caps extension) or pairing menu item. can’t believe thousands of people don’t waste hours of time on this bs. sure if you live in a city or work in an office just borrow a keyboard. if you don’t you are stuck.


(Mavericks) Make sure that your new keyboard is on and in the paring mode. then scroll your fingers across on your magic mouse. this will give you a glimpse of your desktop. once you there hold your fingers on the mouse or you will be taken to the lock screen again.

on the desktop you will see the pairing code that you will need to enter on your keyboard. write this down on a piece of paper and then release the mouse and enter the code and hit enter on your new keyboard. you have to be fast as the code resets quickly. then wait for a bit and the new keyboard will connect.

Good luck :)

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