Skip to main content

How to connect your Xbox controller to a PC or phone and swap back to your console

How to connect your Xbox controller to a PC or phone and swap back to your console


Xbox One, Elite 2, and Series X controllers can now all do this quick-swap trick

Share this story

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

If you own any wireless Xbox controller from the current or previous generation, you already have a great option for playing controller-based games on a PC or smartphone. The key to the adaptability of these controllers is their support for both the Xbox Wireless protocol and Bluetooth. After Apple rolled out iOS 14.5 with support for wireless Xbox controllers and Microsoft tested and rolled out firmware updates for the older Bluetooth-equipped Xbox One controllers and the Elite 2 (matching the functionality of newer Series X models), these controllers went from being the only de facto option for Xbox or PC gamers to one of the most versatile options for use across consoles, phones, tablets, and Windows PCs.

Connecting to all these devices is simple, and even swapping back and forth between an Xbox console and a Bluetooth device is nice and easy.

Here’s how you set everything up:

  • First, you have to pair your Xbox Series X, Xbox One, or Elite 2 controller with your phone or PC. You can always play wired on a PC via a USB cable, but we’re here to use the full capabilities of your wireless controller. Activate wireless pairing on your controller by pressing and holding the sync button on the back, which is just above the USB-C port on the Series X gamepad. After a couple seconds, the Xbox logo on the front of the controller will flash rapidly.
Press and hold the sync button on the back of your controller to pair it with your phone or PC.
Press and hold the sync button on the back of your controller to pair it with your phone or PC.
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge
  • Then, follow the usual Bluetooth pairing process on the device you’re trying to sync with the controller and look for the controller in the Bluetooth settings menu. For example, on iOS 15, my Xbox Series X controller instantly appeared as “Xbox Wireless Controller,” followed by a four-digit number. Once I tapped it, the name auto-filled with a longer sequence of numbers and letters, and it prompted me to pair it. I then selected the controller to pair it. Over on Windows 10 / 11 PCs, be sure to click on “Add new device” under Bluetooth and Devices.
Pairing the Xbox Series X controller with an iPhone on iOS 15.
Pairing the Xbox Series X controller with an iPhone on iOS 15.
  • Once the controller is connected to your new device via Bluetooth, the white Xbox logo should go solid, and you can jump right into some games!
  • To swap your controller back to your Xbox Series X / S console again, double-tap the sync button. The Xbox logo will flash slowly, and the controller should reconnect with your console.
  • To switch the controller back from the Xbox to the Bluetooth device, double-tap the sync button once more. The Xbox logo again flashes slowly, and then it reconnects to your device.

That’s it! It’s now really simple to connect a Bluetooth-enabled Xbox One, Elite 2, or Xbox Series X controller to different devices and swap between that device and your Xbox. With remote play and a growing number of titles available via the Xbox Cloud Gaming Beta, there are more reasons to play Xbox games away from your console — as well as, of course, PC games.

One thing you should be aware of: this quick-swap functionality only works with the last mobile device or PC that the controller connected to via Bluetooth. When you double-tap the sync button, the controller is switching between its Xbox Wireless and Bluetooth protocols. It can only be synced with one Xbox console and one Bluetooth device at a time. So if you want to quickly swap between your Xbox Series X / S and a different device, you’ll need to manually set up your controller with that new device first.

Also, since the Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows uses the same wireless tech as Xbox consoles, it won’t let you quick-swap between those two.

Update March 4th, 2022, 2:55PM ET: This article was originally published on February 9th, 2021; all the directions have been updated.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.

The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.

A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.

Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.