How to Connect an Xbox 360 Controller

Get your game on with your favorite classic gamepad.

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The Xbox 360 might be long past being Microsoft’s flagship gaming device, but its controllers live on in the palms and living rooms of gamers all over the world. If taken care of, they work just as well today as they did when the console first launched, so learning how to sync an Xbox 360 controller with all sorts of systems is a great idea.

How to Sync Xbox 360 Controller to an Xbox 360

Syncing an Xbox 360 controller with an original Xbox 360 is one of the easiest platforms to get it working with.

  1. Turn the Xbox 360 on.

  2. Turn the Xbox 360 controller on by pressing and holding the big Guide Button in the center.

    Xbox 360 connect
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  3. Press the wireless connect button on the Xbox 360, located on the front of the console. You should then see the light ring around the console’s power button flash and rotate.

    On the Xbox 360 E and S consoles, the wireless connect button can be found by the controller ports. On the original Xbox 360 console, it is located near the memory card slots.

  4. While the lights are still flashing, press the sync button on the controller. It's located on the backside of the controller, next to the wired connection. The Guide Button will flash while the syncing completes.

You’ll know the controller has synchronized with the console because the LEDs around the controller’s Guide Button will stop flashing and one LED will stay on. The Xbox console will show a similar light, although the Xbox 360 E will show a single solid light around the power button.

How to Connect Xbox 360 Controller to PC

If you want to connect an Xbox 360 controller to a Windows PC, you need a wireless receiver. Microsoft has an official one, but there are also third-party options which work just as well, though they include a couple of extra hoops to jump through.

These instructions can be applied to Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.

  1. Connect the wireless receiver to a spare USB port on your PC. If you’re using the official adaptor, it should automatically launch the driver installation software. Follow the on-screen instructions, then skip to Step 7. If you’re using an unofficial adaptor, follow the steps below.

  2. Use the Windows search box to search for “Device Manager,” then select it from the results.

  3. You should see one item in the list that has a small, yellow triangle, suggesting Windows doesn’t recognize the device. Right-click it select Properties, select the Driver tab, then select Update Driver.

  4. Select Browse my Computer for driver software.

  5. On the following screen, select Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer.

  6. Scroll down the list and select Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver for Windows. Then select Next.

    Connect Xbox 360 controller Windows
  7. A warning message will appear suggesting it can’t confirm whether the driver is compatible. If you've followed the steps correctly, it will be. Select Yes and wait for the install to complete. The light on the receiver should then change to a solid green.

  8. Turn your Xbox 360 controller on by pressing and holding the central Guide Button. Press the sync button on the wireless receiver, as well as on the controller. They'll both blink for a few seconds, but should then connect. If not, attempt the procedure again and make sure the receiver and controller are near one another.

If the above method doesn’t work for whatever reason, you can download the Xbox 360 Wireless Controller driver from Microsoft’s download website. Just search for “Xbox” in the gaming category, then select Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows. Download the right driver for your operating system, open the file, then follow the on-screen instructions.

How to Connect Xbox 360 Controller to a Mac

Connecting an Xbox 360 controller to macOS is much the same as it is with Windows.

  1. Plug the wireless receiver into your Mac.

  2. Download and install the open source Xbox 360 receiver driver from GitHub.

  3. Turn your Xbox 360 controller on by pressing and holding the Guide Button.

  4. Press the sync button on the wireless receiver, as well as on the controller. They will both blink for a few seconds, but should then connect.