The Xbox One Wireless Gamepad might have Xbox One in the name, but you don’t need to use it with the console. Windows 10 can simply and painlessly pair with the controller, and give you wireless gamepad controls over any compatible PC game. Depending on how old the controller is you might need to use a separate wireless dongle, but as of the Xbox One S, all recent controllers include Bluetooth support to make PC connections that much easier. Here’s what you need to do in order to start using it with your PC:
Figure Out Which Xbox One Controller You Have
Xbox One Wireless Gamepads included with the Xbox One S and made after its release have Bluetooth, while the original Xbox One controllers don’t. You can use both wirelessly with your PC, but the process is different; you need to get a separate wireless dongle for the non-Bluetooth gamepads. This means you need to figure out which controller you have.
Unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t do something obvious like put a Bluetooth logo under the battery door. To determine whether you have a Bluetooth or non-Bluetooth Xbox One controller, you need to look at the plastic surrounding the Guide button. If it’s the same plastic as the face of the controller, without any seams, you have a Bluetooth gamepad. If it’s the same plastic as the bumper buttons, with a seam between the guide Guide button and the face of the controller, it’s a non-Bluetooth gamepad.
Pairing the Xbox One controller with your PC over Bluetooth is almost the same as pairing it with your Xbox One. Power on the controller by holding down the Guide button, then hold the Pairing button on the top of the controller down for three seconds until the Guide button flashes. This means it’s in pairing mode. If you’re connecting it to an Xbox One, you then hold down the Pairing button on the system itself, but for Windows 10 you need to go through some menus. You also need a Bluetooth USB dongle if your PC doesn’t have Bluetooth onboard. Here’s the full step-by-step process.
- Hold the Guide button down on the controller to turn it on.
- Hold the Pairing button on the controller for three seconds until the Guide button flashes.
- Right click on the Bluetooth icon in your system tray and click “Add a Bluetooth Device.”
- Click “Add Bluetooth or other Device” and select Bluetooth.
- Click “Xbox Wireless Controller.”
- Wait until the Guide button is solid white and the Bluetooth menu says the controller is connected.
- Start playing!
You can use the Xbox One Wireless Gamepad with your PC now 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, while you can use a wired gaming headset with a controller and its associated game system, audio isn’t sent through the jack when it’s connected to a PC over Bluetooth.
With a USB Adapter
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, you need to get the Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows. It’s a USB dongle designed to connect directly to your Xbox One gamepad without any Bluetooth setup or pairing. All you need to do is plug in the dongle and pair it to your controller just as if you were pairing your Xbox One, pressing the Pairing button on each device.
This $25 adapter has some benefits over Bluetooth. For starters, you can use up to eight gamepads with the adapter, while Microsoft recommends using just one at a time with Bluetooth. The headset jack is also enabled if you use the adapter, with adjustable settings in the Xbox app for Windows 10.
Use It Wired
Finally, if you don’t need a wireless connection, you can just use a micro USB cable. Plug one end into your PC and the other into the micro USB port at the top of the gamepad, and it will automatically install. You won’t have to go through any menus or plug in any adapters. Of course, then you need to deal with a physical tether to your PC, so it isn’t very viable for a couch setup.