Essential Tips and Tricks for New Xbox One Owners

Xbox One bundles
Xbox One bundles. Microsoft

If you just picked up a brand new Xbox One system, there are some essential tips and tricks that you should know that will help you get the most out of it. 

Xbox One Setup Help

Hooking up your Xbox One to your TV is very simple - just plug the included HDMI cable into the labeled HDMI output port on the back of the system and the other end into an HDMI input on your TV.  Also, of course, connect the power cable and plug it into the wall.


When you power up your Xbox One for the first time you will be walked through some initial setup steps to do things like select your language, set up a Wi-Fi connection, and either make a new Xbox Live account or sign in with an existing one.  Just follow the instructions onscreen once you hook it up and plug it in, but if you need help, Microsoft has a great step-by-step guide to walk you through it here.  

Important! - When you first use an Xbox One, you MUST connect to the internet, either via an ethernet cable or via Wi-Fi, in order to update the system.  You can't use the system until it has downloaded these updates.  You don't have to keep it connected afterward, but you have to connect at least once to update it.

Be Patient!  It is also important to remember to be patient during the initial boot up and update process.  It might not seem like anything is happening or you aren't making progress, but be patient.

 Thinking something is wrong and trying to restart it can potentially cause problems if the update is interrupted halfway.  Be patient.  In the unlikely chance that something does go wrong (like you see a black screen or the green Xbox One screen for more than 10 minutes), then you might actually have an issue.

 Microsoft has update troubleshooting help for that.  Only a tiny fraction of a percent of systems have a problem during the initial setup, however, so like we said, be patient and it should update successfully.

Tips & Tricks for New Xbox One Owners

#1.  Perform system setup and updates before you give Xbox One as a gift.  No one wants to sit around for an hour after they open up their new Xbox One on Christmas morning while it updates, so a good idea is to perform the initial setup and update process ahead of time and then put it back in the box.  That way your kids (or you ...) can hook it up and start playing right away.

#2.  Games can take a long time to install.  Every game, including disc-based games, must be installed to the Xbox One hard drive, and sometimes this can take a long time (usually because it has to install a game update at the same time).  Just like above, it is probably a good idea to pre-install games ahead of time before Christmas or birthday morning so kids can jump in and start playing without having to wait.

#3.  Location is vital.  Don't just shove it into an entertainment center or other closed space.  It needs room to breathe and ventilate.  Granted, the Xbox One does a much better job of keeping itself cool than the 360 did (that is what the huge fan on the right side is for), but it is still better to be safe than sorry.

  Also, be sure to put the power brick somewhere that has some ventilation too, and don't put it on the floor on the carpet (the carpet fibers can block the vents and cause it to overheat).  Also, don't stack game systems (any game systems, not just Xbox) on top of each other, and don't place items like game cases on top of a system.  This blocks ventilation and also reflects heat back into the system.  Take care of your systems, and they'll serve you well.

#4.  Most problems can be fixed with a hard reset of the system.  Say the dashboard is wonky and slow, or a game won't load, or Xbox Live is acting weird, or a host of other issues.  The way you fix it is to hold down the power button on the front of the system for several seconds until it turns off.  This turns the system off completely, instead of putting into stand by mode, and totally resets the hardware.  Similar to the way resetting your computer fixes a lot of issues, resetting the XONE can solve a lot of problems

#5.  Don't put a credit card on your system.  It is a lot harder for bad guys to get your info now than it was back in the heyday of the "FIFA Hack", but still better to play it safe.  There is nothing for anyone to steal if it isn't on your account in the first place, right?  Instead, use Xbox Gift Cards that you can buy either as physical cards at brick and mortar stores, or digital codes from online retailers.  They come in a wide range of denominations, so you can get exactly the amount you want.  I do think another safe option is to put a PayPal account on your system.  This way you get multiple layers of security from PayPal on top of multiple layers of security from MS. 

#6.  You only need 1 Xbox Live Gold sub for everyone on the system.  On the 360, you needed separate subscriptions for every account.  On Xbox One, one Xbox Live Gold subscription covers everyone that uses that system, so everyone can have separate accounts with their own achievements and everything else and can play online, but you don't need to buy everyone their own sub.

#7.  You don't need XBL Gold for apps.  Also related to Xbox Live is that you no longer need a Gold subscription to use apps like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, ESPN, WWE Network, or anything else.  You can use them all and any other app with a free account.  (Additional subscriptions required for apps still apply, of course)

#8.  You're probably going to need an external hard drive.  The internal hard drive on the XONE isn't necessarily tiny, but the games are definitely huge, and will fill up the 500GB drive pretty quickly.  Depending on how many games you plan on buying, you might not run out of space for a while, but if you intend to use your Xbox One to play a lot of games, you're going to need an external drive eventually.  The good news is that external drives are actually fairly cheap - 1TB for $60 - and you have lots of options for prices and sizes.  See our full guide here.

#9.  Learn to love the snap.  Using the snap feature lets you snap apps and certain games (Threes! works, for example) to the side of the screen while you're playing a game or watching TV or doing whatever on the main part of the screen.  You can easily control the snapped apps, or choose what you want to snap, by double tapping the Xbox Guide button (the big glowing X on the controller), which will bring up the snap menu.  If you have Kinect, you can also activate or deactivate snapped apps by saying "Xbox, snap "X"" ("X" being the name of the app you want to use) or close it by saying "Xbox, unsnap". 

#10.  You don't have to be always online, and used games work just fine.  Despite the policies changing more than two years ago, there is still a lot of confusion about this.  So we'll spell it out.  There is no always online check in.  Microsoft isn't watching you with Kinect.  You don't even have to use Kinect at all if you don't want to.  Used games work exactly like they always have - you can trade them or sell them or give them to your friends or whatever.  Anything you hear otherwise on these subjects is false.

Bottom Line

There you go, new Xbox One owners.  These tips should help you get the most out of your new system.  Take a look at some of our game reviews to see what is worth buying.  And, most importantly, have fun!

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