Xbox One Controller Won't Turn On? Five Ways to Fix It

Solutions to the most common Xbox One controller problems

Nothing can take you out of the game faster than an Xbox One controller that won't turn on. Even though these controllers are pretty sturdy, they do break down for a number of reasons.

When an Xbox One controller fails to turn on, you can usually tell by the fact that the Xbox button doesn't light up. When a controller is functioning normally, pressing the Xbox button will cause it to flash and then stay on.

Some problems that prevent an Xbox One controller from turning on may require professional repairs, or even require you to buy a replacement controller, but there are a lot of things you can check out, and even fix, yourself.

Common Reasons an Xbox One Controller Won't Turn On

Most of the problems that can prevent an Xbox One controller from turning on are related to the batteries or battery contacts, the charge and play kit, firmware problems, and 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 reasons that Xbox One controllers fail to turn on all have to do with the batteries. If the batteries are worn out, or in need of a charge, the controller won't turn on. The controller also won't turn on if the batteries are installed improperly.
  • Battery contacts: If the battery contacts are worn out or bent too much, the controller won't turn on. The controller 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 your controller, the cable may be bad. These cables fail internally, so you won't necessarily be able to tell it's bad just by looking at it.
  • Firmware problems: When a controller firmware update is interrupted, the controller may fail to turn on again. To fix this, you need to reinstall the firmware.
  • Internal faults: If something is physically broken inside the controller that prevents it from turning on, there's nothing you can do but have it repaired or replace it. Try connecting with a USB cable to see if the controller still powers up and works when connected via that method.

If your 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 Check Your Xbox One Controller Batteries

When an Xbox One controller fails to turn on, it's usually some type of problem with the batteries. The batteries may be dead, installed improperly, or failing to charge for some reason.

Here's how you can check to see whether the batteries are your problem:

  1. Remove the battery compartment on the back of your controller.

    The back side of an Xbox One controller, showing the location of the battery compartment.
  2. Examine the orientation of the batteries.

    Xbox One batteries installed backwards.
  3. Remove the batteries, and verify that they were inserted in the correct direction.

    The battery compartment of an Xbox One controller, showing the + and - battery contacts.

    Match the + on your battery to the + connection, and the - on your battery to the - connection.

  4. If the batteries were installed incorrectly, put them back in the correct direction. If they were already installed correctly, install a pair of new batteries.

    Batteries in an Xbox One controller showing the correct orientation.

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

  5. Replace the battery cover and try to turn the controller on.

How to Fix Xbox One Controller Battery Contacts

In addition to battery problems, it's also possible for an Xbox One controller to not turn on due to problems with the battery contacts. Instead of using springs like some electronic devices, the Xbox One uses metal tabs that bend in slightly when you install the batteries.

These tabs can become permanently bent if too much force is applied to them, and they can also get stuck or weaken over time. To fix this, you need to inspect the tabs to see if there is a problem, and then gently pry them out so that they are able to make solid contact with the batteries.

All AA batteries are roughly the same size, but diameters can differ from one brand to another. This usually isn't a problem for a device like Xbox One controllers that don't have dividers inside their battery compartments, but you may find that batteries from one brand work in your controller while batteries from another don't.

  1. Remove the battery cover.

  2. Remove the batteries.

  3. With the top of the controller facing away from you, examine the contacts in the right side of the battery compartment.

    The battery terminals in an Xbox One controller.
  4. The contacts should extend at an angle. If either of the contacts is bent in, use a small screwdriver or other prying too to carefully bend it back out.

    The battery compartment of an Xbox One controller, showing the battery contacts.

    Do not attempt to pry the contacts with the batteries still installed. Do not apply excessive force. If you are uncomfortable with this, ask for help from someone who has more experience with this type of work.

  5. Replace your batteries, and reinstall the battery cover.

  6. Check to see if the controller turns on.

How to Fix Xbox One Controller Charge and Play Problems

While the charge and play kit is tremendously convenient, there are a few issues that can cause one to prevent an Xbox One controller from turning on. If the battery component wears out, is damaged, or is installed improperly, the controller won't turn on. The controller also won't turn on if the cable is damaged and unable to charge the battery.

An Xbox One charge and play battery and cable.
 Microsoft

Here's how to identify and fix problems with an Xbox One controller charge and play kit:

  1. Unplug your charge and play cable from your Xbox One, and plug it into a different USB port on your Xbox One.

  2. If the controller still won't turn on, disconnect your charge and play cable and attempt to use a different micro USB cable.

  3. If the controller still won't turn on, unplug the charge and play cable.

  4. Remove the battery cover on your controller.

  5. Remove the charge and play battery and inspect it for damage.

  6. Insert fresh AA batteries, and check to see if the controller turns on.

  7. If the controller turns on with fresh batteries, suspect a problem with either the charge and play battery or cable. If the controller still won't turn on, you have a different problem.

How to Fix Xbox One Controller Firmware Problems

Xbox One controllers rely on firmware to work correctly, which is a type of software that's embedded into hardware. If the firmware on your controller gets corrupted, or an update is interrupted by turning off your console, your controller will fail to turn on.

To fix this type of problem, you need to update the firmware on your controller.

This process requires a working Xbox One controller. If you don't have a second controller, and you can't borrow one from a friend, you will have to buy a new controller. The alternative is to use a Windows 10 computer to update your Xbox One controller firmware.

  1. Plug your controller into an Xbox One using a USB cable.

    Test the USB cable using a different device to make sure it works.

  2. Using a functional Xbox One controller, press the Guide button.

  3. Navigate to System > Settings > Kinect & devices > Devices & accessories.

    A screenshot of the Kinect & devices Xbox One menu.
  4. Look for your controller that doesn't work in the list of connected controllers, and select Update Required.

    A screenshot of an Xbox One controller requiring an update.

    If you see Configure instead of Update Required, your controller already has the current firmware installed.

  5. Select Update Now.

    A screenshot of the Xbox one controller update screen.

    Make sure you have at least one Xbox One controller connected to your console with a USB cable, or you may be unable to complete this process.

  6. Wait for the update to finish, and check to see if your controller works.

How to Connect an Xbox One Controller Via USB

If your controller still doesn't work after trying all of these fixes, the controller may just be broken. Before you throw it away, try connecting it to your Xbox One with a USB cable.

In some cases, an Xbox One controller that won't turn on with batteries installed, or with a charge and play kit, will still work when connected directly with a USB cable.

  1. Turn on your Xbox One.

  2. Remove the batteries from your Xbox One controller.

  3. Plug a USB to micro USB cable into your Xbox One.

  4. Connect the other end of the USB to micro USB cable to your controller.

  5. Wait for the controller to connect.

If your controller works when plugged in with a USB cable, consider purchasing a long USB to micro USB cable and using the controller in wired mode. If it still doesn't work, then the controller may have an internal fault and require professional repairs.

In either case, contact Microsoft for support if your controller is still under warranty. Otherwise, the only options are to buy a replacement or just use the controller with a USB cable.