How to Connect an Xbox Controller to a PC

How to Connect an Xbox Controller to a PC

By Valentina Tuta

The Xbox Wireless Gamepad may have Xbox in the name, but you’re not limited to pairing it with just a console. In fact, the controller can also pair with Windows 10 and Windows 11, allowing you to use it wirelessly with any compatible PC game. 

And in fact, connecting your Xbox gamepad to your Windows PC is almost as easy as connecting it to your console. So pay close attention, because here’s what you need to do to start using your Xbox gamepad with your PC.

Figure Out Which Xbox Controller You Own

Well, if you just got a new Xbox gamepad, you can skip this part because you already have the most current version. Likewise, if you got one in the last few years, you’re probably good on that front too. The current Xbox Wireless Gamepad is the same one included with Xbox Series S/X and supports Xbox wireless communication and Bluetooth.

The original Xbox One controllers lack Bluetooth connectivity and rely specifically on the Xbox wireless communication standard. This is fine for Xbox consoles, but not for PCs. You can still use one with your PC, but the process is different; you must obtain a wireless dongle. Even after the initial wave of Xbox One consoles, most Xbox wireless gamepads of that generation also included Bluetooth. 

How do I know if my Xbox controller has Bluetooth?

Now, if you have an older Xbox One gamepad, you should look at the plastic surrounding the Guide button. If it is the same plastic as the controller face, with no seams, you have a Bluetooth gamepad. Inversely, if it is the same plastic as the bumper buttons, with a seam between the guide button and the controller face, it is a non-Bluetooth gamepad.

Finally, if it has a small, rectangular capture button between the menu and view buttons and a USB-C port on the top instead of a micro USB, it is a current Xbox series controller and also has Bluetooth.


Connect Your Xbox Controller to PC With a Wire

This is a very simple process, although you will need a physical cable connecting the controller to your PC. This is how you can do it:

  1. Plug one end of your USB-to-micro USB or USB-to-USB-C (depending on the version of controller) cable into the controller.
  2. Plug the other end into your PC

That ‘s it! It will automatically configure Windows 10 and 11, and work with virtually any game on your PC.

Connect Your Xbox Controller to PC With Bluetooth

Pairing the Xbox controller with your PC via Bluetooth is almost the same as pairing it with your Xbox One or Xbox Series. To activate the controller, you must press and hold the Guide button, then hold the Pairing button for three seconds until the first button flashes. This means you are in pairing mode.

If you are connecting the controller to a console, press and hold the pairing button on the system itself. If you are connecting the controller to a Windows 10 PC, you must go through some menus. You also need a Bluetooth USB dongle if your PC does not have Bluetooth. Here is the complete step-by-step process:

  1. First, hold the Guide button to turn on the controller.
  2. Now, hold the Pairing button for three seconds until the Guide button flashes.
  3. Then, right-click the Bluetooth icon in your system tray.
  4. After that, click “Add a Bluetooth Device.”
  5. Subsequently, click “Add Bluetooth or other Device” and select Bluetooth.
  6. Lastly, click “Xbox Wireless Controller.” Wait until the Guide button is solid white, and the Bluetooth menu says the controller is connected.

You can now use the Xbox Wireless Gamepad with your PC, and play the vast majority of modern games that support controllers. However, you can’t use the headset jack on the gamepad, just like Sony’s DualShock 4 and DualSense controllers. 

Although you can use a wired gaming headset with the gamepad and its associated game system, audio isn’t sent through the jack when it’s connected to a PC via Bluetooth.

Connect Your Xbox Controller to PC With a USB Adapter

Well, if you have an older Xbox One controller, or you just want to use your newer one with Microsoft‘s proprietary wireless connection instead of Bluetooth (and get headset connectivity), you need to get an Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows 10.

Basically, this is a USB dongle designed to connect directly to your Xbox gamepad without any Bluetooth setup or pairing. So all you need to do is plug it in and pair it with your controller as if you were pairing your Xbox by pressing the pairing button on each device. 

Sadly, this adapter is long out of stock, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find it online for around $40 to $75 instead of its original $25 price. Good luck tracking it down, though. If you eventually manage to get one, it will allow you to use up to eight gamepads with the adapter, while Microsoft recommends using only one at a time with Bluetooth. The headset jack is also enabled if you use the adapter, with adjustable settings in the Xbox app.

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