Making your wireless controllers work with your game console is a little different than just plugging it in, like in the old days. Luckily, console makers have made syncing wireless controllers relatively easy.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t issues with wireless controllers, though. On the Xbox One, syncing is easy, but there are lots of ways to troubleshoot your controllers if any problems arise. Here’s what you need to know to sync your Xbox One with your controllers and deal with any problems that might come up. If you want to sync your Xbox controller to PC instead, we have a guide for that, too.
Power up your controller and turn on your Xbox One
Syncing your controller means powering it up. Xbox One controllers take AA batteries, but you can also get rechargeable battery packs for your controllers. Either way, make sure your controllers are juiced up before attempting to pair them — not enough power is often the cause of connectivity problems (or problems that seem like connectivity problems).
With the controller charged or fresh batteries in, turn it on by pressing the Xbox button in the center of it. It will light up to indicate it’s been turned on. Then hit the Power button on the console.
Find the connect button on the Xbox One
To pair your controller to your Xbox One, you’ll need to activate the connection on both the console and the controller. First, locate the Connection button on the console. On the original Xbox One, you’ll find that button on the left side of the console, near the disc tray.
On the Xbox One X and Xbox One S, the Connection button is on the bottom right corner of the front of the console, beneath the power button. Pressing the button should trigger the white Xbox logo to start blinking, indicating that the console is searching for a controller signal.
Press the connect button on the controller
Once you hit the connect button on the Xbox One, you’ll have 20 seconds to provide it a signal to make a connection — press the black Connect button on the top side of the controller. The Xbox logo on both the controller and console will blink while they’re searching for a connection; when they find each other, both logos will become solid, indicating the controller has synced with the console.
Repeat the process with any other controllers you want to sync to the Xbox, up to a total of eight.
Customize your controller profiles
After you’ve synced your controllers to your console, you can also see what happens when you turn one on. Press the Xbox button on the controller to bring up the main menu, then navigate to the Gear icon to pull up the Settings menu. Find Kinect and Devices, and navigate there to find your controllers. On the Controller menu, you can set which profiles, if any, each controller signs in when you turn it on (once you’ve synced it), as well as security measures to control who can sign in to different accounts on your Xbox.
Use a USB cable
You’re not stuck only using Xbox controllers wirelessly (and going through tons of batteries if you don’t have rechargeable battery packs for them). You can also plug them into your Xbox One with cables. Doing so will sync them to your console, so if you’re having trouble syncing with the wireless method, using a USB cable might be easier. Plug a Micro-B USB cable into your controller, and you can connect it directly to the console. The cable can act as a power source for the controller, so you won’t need batteries or a rechargeable battery pack, and you can still change controller settings in the Controller menu.
Update your controller’s firmware
If you’re having connectivity problems, it may be that your controller’s internal software is out of date. You can update that firmware from your Xbox One console, which can solve some issues. Head to the Settings menu and the Kinect and Devices menu, where you’ll find each of your connected controllers, either with a wireless connection or connected by USB. From this menu, select the controller you want to update and choose the Ellipses beneath the Controller button. From here, you’ll get a menu that allows you to check for firmware updates, which could potentially fix any issues you’re dealing with.
If your controller isn’t connecting, check for interference
If you’ve exhausted every other option—such as checking for dead batteries—and you’re still having trouble connecting your Xbox One controllers, it’s time to troubleshoot other possibilities. One of the most common contenders for this is interference in your play area, whether from other electronics, walls, or something unexpected, like radio or microwave interference.
First, make sure that you’re close enough to your Xbox One. The maximum distance that your controller can reach is somewhere between 19 and 28 feet away, so if you’re trying to play from further than that, you could run into connection issues.
Secondly, keep in mind that barriers can negatively affect your controller’s signal, too. Walls, furniture, and even other accessories plugged into your Xbox One can hinder your controller’s connection. Try removing as many of these as possible to see if that helps.
Try moving any metallic objects away from your controller and console as well, as these can also distort the signal. And lastly, it never hurts to turn your console off and back on again to start fresh. However, if you’re still experiencing connection issues after this, it might be time to head to Microsoft’s support website for more troubleshooting or go shopping for a new controller.