A white Xbox Series S controller being held in a person's hands.
Miguel Lagoa/Shutterstock.com

There are two ways of pairing a controller with an Xbox console. Xbox One and Xbox Series controllers are compatible with both generations of consoles, which means you can use your old controllers on your new console (and vice versa).

Pair a Controller with a USB Cable

The simplest way of pairing a controller is to use a USB cable. Make sure your console is turned on, then plug one end of the cable into your controller and the other into the USB-A port on your console. Turn the controller on by holding the Xbox button on the front and it should pair with the console instantly.

If the controller has a AA or rechargeable battery in it (that still has a charge), you can now remove the USB cable and use the controller wirelessly. If you don’t have a battery or the charge has depleted, you’ll need to keep the USB cable connected to power the controller.

An Xbox Wireless Controller with a USB Type-C cable

Once your controller is paired, you can charge it using another USB device like a portable battery or wall adapter, which may be more convenient if you haven’t got a sufficiently long USB cable.

An Xbox Series X or Series S controller connects using a USB-C connection, while the original Xbox One controller uses a mini-USB. The Xbox Series X comes with a compatible USB cable in the box, but Xbox One owners may need to purchase a play and charge kit.

Xbox One Play and Charge Kit

Xbox One Play and Charge Kit

This kit includes a rechargeable battery and a USB-A to mini-USB connection designed for the original Xbox One controller. Note that newer Xbox Series X controllers use a different (USB-C) connection.

Pair a Controller via Bluetooth

If you can’t find a USB cable and you have a controller that turns on (with a battery in it), you can always pair over Bluetooth. First, turn your console on and wait for it to boot up. Next, turn on the controller by pressing and holding the Xbox button on the front.

Now look for the pairing button on your console. On an Xbox Series X and Series S, this button is located next to the USB-A port on the front of the console.

Pair button on Xbox Series X

On the Xbox One X and One S, the button is located on the right-hand side of the console near the Xbox button.

Pair button on Xbox One S

On the original Xbox One console, the button is located on the left edge of the console, around the corner near the optical disc slot.

Pair button on Xbox One

Press this button and the Xbox will enter pairing mode. Now press and hold the pairing button on your Xbox wireless controller, located along the top edge of the controller.

Xbox Series controller pair button

The Xbox button will flash to signify it is in pairing mode, then it should pair with the nearby Xbox console.

Xbox Emulators, Game Pass, and More

The Xbox Series X and Series S can play arcade and retro games when you install an emulator, play Game Pass titles with an active subscription, make use of Xbox Cloud Gaming, and is packed full of features like Auto HDR and FPS Boost to give old titles a new lease of life.

RELATED: Xbox Game Pass: How It Works, Cost, and Games List

Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He has covered a wide range of topics including Apple, security, productivity tips, gaming and more for publications like How-To Geek, Zapier, and MakeUseOf.
Read Full Bio »