As gaming technology develops and gaming platforms expand to the point of being available on all manner of devices with services like Xbox Game Pass and Stadia (to name only two), it's important that you have a method to play those games that you're comfortable with. For Xbox gamers, that's the Xbox One wireless controller.

If you prefer playing with a controller over a keyboard and mouse, either because you find it easier, or because your laptop's keyboard doesn't have enough key travel or feedback, you'll want to continue using your Xbox controller on your PC too.

It's worth noting your process depends on whether you have Bluetooth on your desktop or laptop Windows 10 machine, and whether or not you have the newer wireless controller or the older model.

That's an important distinction because the older wireless controller - with shiny plastic around the 'X' home button - doesn't have Bluetooth, and can only pair to a dedicated receiver. 

Fear not if you have this controller - or a laptop without Bluetooth - we'll show you how to use your controller this way too. If you want to connect your Xbox controller to your smartphone, we show you how to do that in a separate guide

If you have Bluetooth and the newest Xbox One wireless controller

In the perfect scenario, you have a laptop and an Xbox wireless controller which both have Bluetooth, and so all you need to do is to pair them. Open up Windows 10's start menu and find 'Settings'. 

  • Click 'Devices'
  • Select 'Bluetooth and other devices'
  • Click 'Add Bluetooth or other devices'
  • Select 'Bluetooth'

At this point, your laptop or desktop will start searching the nearby area for available Bluetooth devices in pairing mode. So power on your Xbox controller and put it into pairing mode. 

  • Press and hold the 'X' home button for a couple of seconds until it lights up
  • Press and hold the small pairing button on the top edge
  • Your 'X' home button should start flashing on and off

With your Xbox controller light blinking, that means it's in pairing mode and it should show up in that list of available devices on your Windows 10 PC. Simply click on the Xbox wireless controller in that devices list, and within a second or two it'll be connected and the light on behind the 'X' will be solid.

If you have the older Xbox One wireless controller (or a PC without Bluetooth)

If you are one of the people without the Bluetooth equipped Xbox controller, or you have a PC without Bluetooth, you're going to need the Xbox wireless adapter. It's a proprietary dongle Microsoft makes that pairs to the controller using a dedicated wireless connection. 

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Once you have one of those adapters, you simply plug it in to a spare USB port on your Windows laptop or desktop, and then press and hold the pairing button on the side until the light starts blinking. 

Now you switch on your Xbox controller by pressing the central home button, and then press and hold the pairing button on the top edge until that big 'X' starts flashing. 

At this point the wireless adapter and your control pad should find each other automatically, and then after a few seconds they'll connect and the lights will become constant and stop blinking on both devices.