How to Connect Any Modern Xbox Controller to a PC: 3 Easy Methods

Wondering how to connect an Xbox controller to your PC? While using a keyboard and mouse is superior for many video game genres, other types of games work better with a controller.

As you’d expect, connecting an Xbox controller to a Windows PC is easy since Microsoft handles both platforms. Here’s how to use your Xbox controller to play PC games—this works for both Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S controllers, since they’re nearly identical.

There are three ways to pair an Xbox controller to your PC. We’ll cover each method in turn.

1. How to Connect Xbox Controller to PC via USB Cable

The most straightforward way to connect your Xbox controller and PC is with a micro-USB cable (for Xbox One controllers) or a USB-C cable (for Series X|S controllers). Simply plug the slim end into your Xbox controller and the other end into a USB port on your PC. Hit the Xbox button to turn the controller on, if it doesn’t do so on its own.

On Windows 10 and Windows 11, your computer should recognize the controller instantly. On earlier versions of Windows, the OS should automatically download drivers and your controller will be ready in a few moments.

When your Xbox controller is plugged into a computer, it will be powered by your PC, so the batteries will not drain. You can even remove the batteries and still use your controller over USB.

When you want to disconnect your Xbox controller from the PC, just unplug it. It may flash for a few seconds as it’s looking for other devices, but it will turn off before long. If you want to turn it off right away, press and hold the Xbox button on the controller for several seconds until the light goes out.

2. How to Connect Xbox Controller to PC Using Bluetooth

If your PC has Bluetooth, this is a convenient way of connecting your Xbox controller and PC wirelessly. However, to use it with an Xbox One controller, you must have the more recent model; see the image below for an illustration of the differences.

If your Xbox One controller has plastic casing around the Xbox button, as shown in the top image, then it is not Bluetooth-compatible. You’ll need to use the Xbox Wireless Adapter (explained below) if you want to connect your Xbox controller to your PC without Bluetooth. The bottom model, where none of the plastic surrounds the Xbox button, supports Bluetooth.

All Xbox Series X|S controllers support Bluetooth. You’ll know your controller is a Series X|S model if it has the Share button in the middle of the controller.

To use Bluetooth in Windows 10, head to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth & other devices. On Windows 11, go to Settings > Bluetooth & devices. There, enable the Bluetooth slider (if it isn’t turned on already), then choose Add Bluetooth or other device (Windows 10) or Add device (Windows 11). Select Bluetooth from the resulting list.

Next, press the Xbox button on your controller to turn it on. Then press and hold the Pair button on top of the controller (the small button next to LB) for a few seconds, and the Xbox button will start flashing rapidly.

From here, your Xbox controller should show up in the Bluetooth pairing menu on your PC. Select it and complete the steps to pair them. If you have trouble, refer to our guide on setting up Bluetooth in Windows 10.

Remember that the batteries in your Xbox controller will drain when using it wirelessly. To save money on batteries, we recommend picking up the Xbox One Play and Charge Kit (or the Xbox Rechargeable Battery for Series X|S controllers) to give your controller recharging capabilities. You can easily plug your controller into your PC when you’re not using it, so it will always be ready for your next session.

3. Use the Xbox Wireless Adapter to Pair Xbox One Controller to PC

Microsoft has a standard called Xbox Wireless that’s built into a few computers, though it’s likely not part of yours. So to sync your Xbox controller and PC wirelessly without Bluetooth, you’ll need to buy the Xbox Wireless Adapter.

This adapter lets you connect your Xbox controller to your PC wirelessly, through the same proprietary connection used by your Xbox console. Keep in mind that it’s not officially supported for Windows 11.

To use the wireless adapter, plug it into a USB port on your PC and let Windows install drivers. Once it’s done, press and hold the button on the adapter and you’ll see a light flash.

Next, hold the Xbox button on your controller to turn it on, then press and hold the Pair button on top of the controller. After a few seconds, the controller and adapter should see each other and connect.

From here, you can enjoy your Xbox controller on your PC wirelessly, just like using Bluetooth. We only recommend this method if you have an Xbox One controller that’s not Bluetooth-enabled, though. Otherwise, it’s better to add Bluetooth to your computer with an adapter that’s cheaper than the Xbox Wireless Adapter.

How to Reconnect Your Xbox Controller to Your Console

Keep in mind that if your Xbox controller is already paired to an Xbox One or Series X|S console, pressing the Xbox button will turn the system on. You should still be able to pair it wirelessly using either of the methods above, but you’ll probably want to turn your console off after you do so (or shut down and unplug it before you start). Trying to connect your controller to multiple devices at once will cause issues.

After you connect your Xbox controller to a PC using any method above, you’ll need to re-pair the controller with your Xbox next time you want to use it there. To do this with the wired method, connect the controller to your Xbox using a USB cable, then press the Xbox button to pair.

To pair the controller wirelessly, press the pairing button on the system. It’s to the left of the disc tray on the original Xbox One, and at the bottom-right of the front panel under the power button on the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. On Xbox Series X|S, it’s next to the USB port at the front of the system.

After hitting this button, turn on your controller by hitting the Xbox button, then hold the Pair button on the top to pair it. If you run into problems, see how to troubleshoot an Xbox controller.

If you have an Xbox Series S|X controller, there’s a convenient shortcut for switching paired devices. When you have it connected to a Bluetooth device, press the Pair button on top of the controller twice to immediately switch to the last Xbox Wireless connection (usually your console). Then, press the Pair button twice again to reconnect to the Bluetooth device you were just using.

Finally, remember that you can turn off your Xbox controller (when it’s not connected to a PC or console with a cable) by holding the Xbox button for around five seconds. When the light on this button goes out, your controller is off.

Connect an Xbox Controller to Your PC Easily

You have plenty of options for connecting an Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S controller to your PC. Whether you want to connect with a USB cable for the simplest option or prefer to connect wirelessly with Bluetooth, now you understand the available methods.

Meanwhile, a Windows PC isn’t the only device you can connect an Xbox controller to.

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