How to Fix an Xbox One Controller That Won't Turn On

Solutions to the most common Xbox One controller problems

Nothing takes you out of the game faster than an Xbox One controller that won't turn on. Even though it's pretty sturdy, it can break down for a number of reasons. You can usually tell it's not working when the Xbox button doesn't light up. When a controller is functioning normally, pressing the Xbox button causes it to flash and then stay on.

Some problems that prevent an Xbox One controller from turning on may require professional repairs or require you to buy a replacement controller. However, there are several things you can try first to resolve the issue. We detail these troubleshooting steps below.

Common Reasons an Xbox One Controller Won't Turn On

Most of the problems preventing an Xbox One controller from turning on are related to the batteries or battery contacts, the charge and play kit, firmware problems, or internal hardware faults. Some of these can be fixed at home, and others can't.

Here are the most common problems that can keep an Xbox One controller from powering up:

  • Batteries: The most common reason an Xbox One controller fails to turn on has to do with the batteries. If the batteries are worn out or in need of a charge, it won't turn on. It also won't turn on if the batteries are installed improperly.
  • Battery contacts: The controller won't turn on if the battery contacts are worn out or bent too much. It also won't turn on if the batteries don't make firm contact for any other reason.
  • Charging cable problems: If you use a charge and play kit to charge the controller, the cable may be bad. These cables fail internally, so you can't necessarily tell it's bad only by looking at it.
  • Firmware problems: A controller may fail to turn on again when a controller firmware update is interrupted.
  • Internal faults: Sometimes, something is physically broken inside the controller that prevents it from turning on.

If the controller lights up but won't connect, see What to Do When Your Xbox One Controller Won't Connect for more in-depth troubleshooting information about that specific problem.

How to Fix an Xbox One Controller That Won't Turn On

Here are some troubleshooting tips and solutions for a range of Xbox One controller issues:

  1. Check the batteries. Remove the battery compartment on the back of the controller. Remove each battery and verify it's inserted in the correct direction. If it was installed incorrectly, put it back in the correct direction. If both batteries are installed correctly, install a pair of new batteries.

    Don't take batteries out of a different device. To be certain the problem isn't the batteries, use a brand new pair right out of the package, or a pair of freshly charged ones.

  2. Check the battery contacts. Instead of using springs like some electronic devices, the Xbox One controller uses metal tabs that bend in slightly when you install the batteries. These tabs can become permanently bent if too much force is applied, and can get stuck or weaken over time. Remove the battery cover and the batteries, and examine the contacts on the right side of the compartment. The contacts should extend at an angle. If either is bent in, use a small screwdriver or another prying tool to bend it back out carefully.

    The battery terminals in an Xbox One controller.

    Don't attempt to pry the contacts with the batteries installed. Don't apply excessive force. If you're uncomfortable with this, ask someone who has more experience with this type of work for help.

  3. Test the Xbox One Play & Charge Kit. The cable could be worn out or broken. Make sure it's securely plugged in on both ends. If that's not the issue, unplug it from the Xbox One and plug it into a different USB port on the console. If the controller still won't turn on, disconnect the Play & Charge cable and try a different micro USB cable.

  4. Update the firmware. Xbox One controllers rely on firmware to work correctly. If it gets corrupted, or an update is interrupted by turning off the console, the controller won't turn on.

  5. Connect the controller via USB. When all else fails, connect the Xbox One controller to the console directly using a USB cable. In some cases, a wireless controller that won't turn on with batteries installed, or with a charge and play kit, will work when connected with a USB cable. If your controller works when plugged in, consider purchasing a long USB to micro USB cable and using the controller in wired mode. If this fix doesn't work, the controller may have an internal fault and require professional repairs.

  6. Contact Microsoft for customer support. If none of the above fixes work, it may be time to seek customer support. If your controller is under warranty, you can probably get a replacement.