How to connect your Xbox 360 controller to a PC

These days, you can use just about any gaming controller on your computer. Even older controllers (like the one that came with your Xbox 360 and is now gathering dust) are compatible, so long as you’ve got the relevant hardware and a few minutes to spare. Learning how to connect an Xbox 360 controller to a PC might sound intimidating, but the process is actually pretty simple.

Whether you’ve got a wireless or wired controller, functionality is identical — though many players insist that a wired controller is a must, since there’s basically no input lag. Either way, we’ve got you covered below.

Plug in your wireless receiver

This section only applies to those with wireless controllers. If you’ve got a wired Xbox 360 controller, skip straight to Install software.

For those of you that own wireless Xbox 360 controllers, connecting to a PC isn’t as straight forward as simply plugging the device in. First off, you’ll need to purchase a capable receiver, then run the proper setup wizard.

how to connect your xbox 360 controller a pc wireless receiver

If you don’t already have a receiver, they typically cost between $10 and $20. The official Microsoft version will cost a bit more than that, but there are many third-party versions available that work perfectly well.

After purchasing the wireless receiver, connect it to a compatible USB port on your computer (see Figure A below). Once plugged in, a green light will appear on the receiver indicating the device is working properly.

Install software

For the wireless gaming receiver and the wireless Xbox 360 controller to properly sync with one another, users must download the necessary software via Microsoft’s website, or the bundled installation disc packaged with their receiver.

If you have the aforementioned installation CD (probably not, but it’s possible), insert it into your PC’s main optical drive and follow the on-screen wizard. You may need to restart your computer. If not, you can download from the Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows link; if wired, select Xbox 360 Controller for Windows instead. Choose which version of Microsoft Windows you’re using — the Windows 7 drivers will work for Windows 8 and Windows 10 — select the operating system language, and click Download.

Once the download screen pops up, hit Run and allow the Xbox 360 Accessories Setup program to install the required files. Again, you may be required to restart your computer upon completion of the install.

how to connect your xbox 360 controller a pc sync guide

Syncing the controller

If you’re using a wired controller, just plug it in. You’re good to go. Scroll down to Testing the Controller to make sure everything is working correctly.

If not, you’ll need to connect the wireless Xbox 360 controller with the receiver plugged into your computer. To do so, first turn on the controller by holding down the Xbox Guide button in the center of the controller, and wait for the green backlight to turn on. Afterward, press the connect button on top of the wireless receiver (figure B) until it begins to flash green, then press the corresponding button on your controller (figure C).

The pairing process should only take a few seconds, after which the light on the receiver will return to solid green and one of the four corners around the controller’s Guide button will light up (figure D). If you’re still having issues, check Microsoft’s support page for more help.

Testing the controller

Once the necessary software is installed and the controller plugged in or synced, it’s time to test the connection. Open the Start menu on your PC, click the search menu, and look for “game controllers.” You should see an option that says “Set up USB game controllers.”

how to connect your xbox 360 controller a pc test

Now, press the controller’s buttons, pull the triggers, and move the joysticks to ensure the controller is functioning properly. If it is, you’ll see the correlating action highlighted in the application. Don’t worry about which area is lighting up — as long as the system recognizes each button, you’re good. If the application does not recognize the controller, you can troubleshoot via Xbox’s support website.

Start playing

That’s all you have to do. The Xbox 360 controller is the typical default configuration for modern PC games, so you shouldn’t have to do any special key bindings or settings tweaks in the vast majority of titles. Just make sure the controller is connected when you load the game and it should be detected. In fact, some games can switch to the 360 controller automatically, even in the middle of gameplay.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Self-balancing skates, tiny tripods, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

TV calibration 101: Here's how to tune up the picture of your new TV

You’ve got your new TV out of the box, but now what? Our TV picture adjustment guide takes you through the simple steps to get the best picture from your brand new TV so you can set it and forget it.
Home Theater

Want to save your favorite film? Here's how to fix a scratched DVD or CD

A scratched edition of your favorite DVD is no good, but our guide will show you how to fix a scratched DVD, whether you prefer to repair it using a smattering of peanut butter or Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser.
Social Media

New to Snapchat? Follow our guide and go from newbie to pro

Whether you're a Snapchat addict or a newbie, our detailed Snapchat guide will help you become a pro in no time. Find out how to get started, spice up your snaps, chat, send money, and carry out a host of other useful actions.
Movies & TV

Lose the torrents. Here's how to watch 'Game of Thrones' online (legally)

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on TV, but unless you're a cable subscriber, finding a way to watch isn't always easy. Check out our guide on how to watch online, whether you prefer using HBO, Sling TV, Hulu, or Amazon.
Gaming

‘Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’: Everything you need to know

Ubisoft will release Assassin's Creed Odyssey in October for consoles and PC. Here is everything you need to know about the next chapter of Assassin's Creed, including the story and setting.
Gaming

‘Pokémon Go’ could be a game for everyone — but it isn’t there yet

Recent content and feature updates for Pokémon Go have brought it closer to being a game for everyone, but will Niantic be able to tackle the game's most glaring issues before the launch of Pokémon: Let's Go?
Computing

Our favorite gaming desktops make the latest consoles look pathetic

PC gaming doesn't always come cheap, but it doesn't have to be extortionate either. In this guide we've put together a list of the best gaming PCs you can buy, with everything from the big and flashy, to the super compact.
Gaming

You're not a true Nintendo fan without these Nintendo Switch exclusives

Who doesn't love a good Nintendo game? If you're looking for great first-party titles for your Nintendo Switch, take a look at our list of the very best exclusives available right now.
Mobile

OnePlus’ ‘Crackables’ includes puzzles in both the digital and physical worlds

OnePlus and Google teamed up on a new puzzle game that exists in both the physical and digital worlds, and will lead to a winner getting the "ultimate gaming setup." The game comes a few months before the expected release of the OnePlus 6T.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: When it happens and where to find the best deals

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.
Gaming

Get a Double Helix set and 1000 V-Bucks with Nintendo Switch’s ‘Fortnite’ bundle

A new Nintendo Switch bundle launching in October includes free in-game V-Bucks currency for Fortnite, as well as additional digital goodies. The game supports crossplay with most other systems.
Gaming

Chug some booze and belt out battle songs in 'The Bard's Tale 4'

From the same developers behind Torment: Tides of Numenera and Wasteland 2, comes a long-awaited sequel to a classic RPG/dungeon crawler series. Fans can get The Bard's Tale 4: Barrows Deep starting today for PC on Steam.
Gaming

Seth Rogen sets Twitter ablaze with secret ‘Duck Hunt’ trick

Actor and comedian Seth Rogen let Twitter users in on a little secret about the classic Nintendo game Duck Hunt. If you remember playing it back in the '80s, you might want to sit down.