How to Connect an Xbox 360 Controller

Get your game on with your favorite classic gamepad

What to Know

  • Sync to an Xbox 360: Press Wireless Connect on the Xbox 360, then press Sync on the controller.
  • PC: Plug a wired controller into an open USB port. For wireless, use a wireless receiver.
  • Mac: Plug in a wireless receiver, download Xbox 360 receiver driver, press and hold Guide, press Sync on the receiver and controller.

This article explains how to connect an Xbox 360 controller to an Xbox 360, Windows PC (with Windows 10, 8.1, or 7), or a Mac.

How to Sync the Xbox 360 Controller to an Xbox 360

Syncing an Xbox 360 controller with an original Xbox 360 is, naturally, the easiest process on this list. Here's how:

  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
  3. Press the Wireless Connect button on the Xbox 360. It's located on the front of the console. You should 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 is found by the controller ports. On the original Xbox 360 console, it's 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 gamepad's backside, next to the wired connection. The Guide Button flashes when the syncing completes.

You'll know the controller is synchronized with the console when the LEDs around the controller’s Guide Button stop flashing and one LED stays on. The Xbox console shows a similar light, although the Xbox 360 E shows a single solid light around the power button.

How to Connect the Xbox 360 Controller to PC

If you have a wired Xbox 360 controller, you simply need to plug it into an open USB port on your PC. Windows automatically installs the necessary drivers and notifies you when the controller is ready for use.

If your PC doesn't detect the Xbox 360 controller, try plugging it into a different USB port, then test it again. If it still doesn't work, make sure Windows is fully updated. Install any updates and try again.

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

  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 look for Device Manager, then select it from the results.

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

  4. Select Browse my computer for driver software.

  5. 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 appears 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 they don't, attempt the procedure again and make sure the receiver and controller are near one another.

If the above method doesn’t work, 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 the Xbox 360 Controller to a Mac

Connecting an Xbox 360 controller to macOS works similarly to 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.

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