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How to Connect
Most modern Xbox controllers (360 and X) use Bluetooth connectivity to connect to your PC gaming system. That makes connecting incredibly easy, whether playing a single-player adventure game where you can control every aspect of your character’s life or a multiplayer racing game where you can compete with thousands of other players online.
Usually, you need to connect the Xbox controller’s USB cable or, if yours is broken or missing, get another one and turn on Bluetooth on your computer. From there, follow the process of pairing a new device to your PC (under Windows, it’s the “Add Bluetooth or other device” option, and under MacOS, it’s the same), then select the Xbox wireless controller when prompted by the operating system. It may take a few seconds for the guide button to flash to let you know that it has successfully connected, but once it does, it should be visible in your computer’s Bluetooth & devices list and ready to use.
If your Xbox controller is older and requires a wired connection, you will need an Xbox wireless adapter, a tiny Bluetooth transmitter, and a receiver. Insert the tiny black box into an available USB port on your computer, then press your controller’s sync button until it flashes quickly. After a few seconds, your computer should prompt you to add a device and choose the Xbox wireless controller.
There are many options available for PC gamers when it comes to controllers. One of the most popular is the Microsoft Xbox controller for a PC, which works well out of the box with most PC titles and supports wired Bluetooth or 2.4GHz wireless connection. The controller features native Windows support and offers a range of customization options like button remapping, battery level monitoring, and more. You can also find the Xbox accessories app, which allows you to customize your controller more personally and adds unique features like customizable thumbsticks. The app is available in the Windows store and is used by top esports teams and others.
Alternatively, you can use any modern console controller with your PC. All the major brands offer USB-C or MicroUSB-connected controllers that can be connected to your PC and will work right out of the box. For example, the newer Xbox Series X and X|S controllers have a share button that lets you instantly snap a screenshot and upload it to social media.
Using Bluetooth for your controller is a great option that eliminates the need to deal with tangled cables and lag. It’s also more secure and requires no additional software on the PC side. If you run into any issues, try restarting your PC or Xbox and moving any objects that could interfere with the signal. You may also need to update your controller’s firmware.
If you’re playing on a PC, there are several ways to remap your controller. The easiest is using the Xbox accessories app on Windows 10. It lets you change button placement, remap paddles, swap thumbstick X and Y axes, and specify shift inputs.
It works for standard Xbox wireless, elite, and adaptive controllers designed to help gamers with physical disabilities. If you want to go further, the app lets you adjust brightness, rename the controller, and store up to 256 configurations. It also allows you to map keyboard keys, which can be very helpful for games that require precise movement and quick reactions.
Another option is to use a third-party tool called reWASD, which offers similar functionality but has the bonus of showing you what you’re remapping in real-time. To set up reWASD, ensure your controller is plugged in and connected to your computer via USB or the Xbox wireless adapter. Open the program, and click the configure button to get started.
Remember that while remapping your controller at the system level is convenient, it might confuse clarification within the game itself. Many console games don’t have on-screen prompts for mouse and keyboard controls, so you might have to revert your settings if you want to play one of those titles.
There’s a reason many popular PC games encourage you to play with a controller. While the mouse and keyboard are still king, using a controller for specific genres like platformers or racing games can feel more intuitive. That’s why it’s good to know that most modern Xbox controllers, including Microsoft’s standard wireless controller for the series X and S, work well on PC. The process is nearly the same as using an Xbox console, and you can connect wirelessly or with a USB dongle.
You’ll need to pair the controller with your computer (using the same steps as when using it on a console) and then set up the buttons. Once that’s done, you’ll be ready to go. Most PCs will automatically recognize the controller and its button layout. However, if you’re looking for extra features and customization options, several software programs let you do that and more.
Microsoft’s standard Xbox wireless controller is the best overall pick for PC gaming. It has a refined design that fits comfortably in your hands and works wirelessly over Bluetooth or with a USB dongle. It also doesn’t require special drivers and works with Windows games right out of the box. The Xbox Elite wireless controller is an excellent choice if you want to pay more for added features. It’s remappable, has back paddles, and can create “shift” layers that change button functions when you press them.