Is your Xbox One controller not working, or maybe you’re having problems with an Xbox Series X|S controller? This is an annoying problem that a lot of Xbox owners face. While today’s wireless controllers are more convenient than the wired ones of previous systems, they come with their own set of issues.
In this troubleshooting guide, we’ll show you how to fix your Xbox One controller when it won’t connect, sync, or even turn on properly. By the end, you’ll be back to gaming. And while we focus on the Xbox One here, most of these tips also apply to the Xbox Series X and Series S, since the controllers are near-identical.
1. If Your Xbox Controller Is Not Connecting
If you can’t get your Xbox One controller to connect to your console, you should first check for a few common issues.
Do you have eight controllers already connected to your console? While you likely don’t use this many, the maximum amount of controllers an Xbox One supports is eight. After this point, you can’t connect any more controllers.
Hold the Xbox button on a controller and choose Turn controller off on the resulting menu to disconnect one or more of them. Then try connecting the new controller again.
Also, remember that you can only pair a controller with one Xbox system at a time. If you go to a friend’s house and pair your controller with his Xbox, you’ll have to pair it with yours again. This also applies when you connect your Xbox controller to a PC and then try to use it on your console again.
See the “If Your Xbox One Controller Is Blinking” section below for more on this.
2. If Your Xbox One Controller Keeps Disconnecting
What if your Xbox controller pairs but then keeps disconnecting? This can ruin a great gaming session and is extremely frustrating to deal with.
Do remember that it’s a normal battery-saving feature of the Xbox One and Series X|S controller to disconnect if you don’t use it for 15 minutes. This won’t usually happen when playing games, but can come into play if you primarily use your Xbox One as a media center.
You’ll need to move a stick or press a button every so often. Otherwise, you’ll have to reconnect the controller later by pressing the Xbox button.
However, if you’re having a problem with your Xbox controller disconnecting, it probably happens much more frequently than every 15 minutes. If that’s the case, you can try a few troubleshooting steps.
It’s important to confirm that your batteries are charged when you have this issue. Tap the Xbox button to go back to the Home menu, then look for the battery icon in the top-right corner. If they’re low, you should replace or charge the batteries as necessary.
Frequent disconnects can also happen because of interference. The Xbox One controller has a wireless range of about 19-28 feet, according to Xbox Support. Try moving closer to your console if your controller won’t stay connected.
You should also remove obstructions between the controller and console, like laptops, metal shelving, and similar. If your Xbox is inside an entertainment center, try moving it outside the unit to get a better connection.
If you press the Xbox button on your controller and it blinks or flashes, this usually indicates that your controller isn’t paired to a console. As mentioned above, this can happen when you pair the controller to another system. But it can also occur due to various glitches.
Follow our guide showing how to sync an Xbox One controller to your console to get yours connected again.
If your controller doesn’t pair using the buttons, try using a USB cable to pair it. Simply plug the cable into a USB port on your console and connect the other end to your controller, then hold the Xbox button on your controller for a few seconds.
If this fails to solve the problem, you should restart your console. Press and hold the Xbox button (which is the power button) on the front of your system for 10 seconds to fully power it off. Then press it again to turn it back on. After a power cycle of both your console and controller, you should be able to pair them without it flashing.
If your controller keeps blinking and turning off after this, your controller may have a hardware issue. Try another controller with your console and see if you have the same problem, or test your controller with a friend’s Xbox or another device like a PC.
Contact Xbox Support if you can’t get the controller to connect under any circumstance. In the meantime, be aware that you can press and hold the Xbox button on your controller for several seconds to turn it off. This can help conserve battery life if it just keeps flashing during your troubleshooting.
4. If Your Xbox One Controller Won’t Turn On
If your Xbox controller is not turning on, don’t worry. This is another common problem, with similar solutions to the above.
When your Xbox One controller won’t turn on, first, make sure the batteries aren’t dead. If the batteries are low, the controller won’t turn on at all. Pop the back cover off and replace the two AA batteries, then try again.
You can also purchase the Xbox Rechargeable Battery kit to gain rechargeable batteries. This kit comes with a USB-C cable, which the newer Series X|S controllers use. For an Xbox One controller, you’ll need to connect a micro-USB cable to charge instead.
If changing the batteries doesn’t work to power on your Xbox controller, try this:
- Turn off your Xbox One fully by pressing and holding the power button on the front of the system for 10 seconds.
- Unplug your console’s power cable and leave it unplugged for a few minutes.
- Use a USB cable you know is good (try others if the first doesn’t work) to connect your controller to the system.
- Plug your Xbox back in and turn it on using the power button on the system. Don’t press anything on the controller until the Xbox boots up.
- Try pressing the Xbox button on your controller at this point to see if it’s working.
General Xbox One Controller Connection Tips
We’ve covered specific Xbox controller problems above. However, if your Xbox controller is still not working after walking through them, here are some other general solutions to try.
Update the Xbox Controller Firmware
Your Xbox One controller actually has its own firmware that receives updates at times. While it doesn’t get these updates often, corrupted or outdated firmware could cause disconnection issues.
If your controller is functional, you can update it by tapping the Xbox button to open the Guide while your system is on. Go to Profile & system > Settings > Devices & connections > Accessories.
Select your controller, then choose the three-dot button and hit Firmware version to check for updates.
Remove Connected Xbox Accessories
Sometimes Xbox One accessories, attached either to the controller or console, can introduce connection issues.
If you have an external hard drive, keyboard, or similar peripheral connected to your Xbox, try disconnecting it and then attempt to connect your controller again. Do the same for the Stereo Headset Adapter on your controller, if you have it.
If you’re trying to sync your Xbox controller using a USB cable, make sure you’re using a high-quality cord. Low-quality or damaged cables may not work correctly.
Try Connecting Another Controller to Your Xbox
Like most troubleshooting, you can help nail down where the problem lies by trying different devices. Try connecting a different controller (that you know works) to your Xbox system. Confirm that its batteries are charged, too.
If that controller works fine, then the original controller is the issue. But if both have problems, then the problem likely lies with your console instead. You may need to get in touch with Xbox Support in this case.
Reboot Your Xbox One
We mentioned it above, but it bears repeating: make sure to reboot your console when troubleshooting controller issues. By default, simply tapping the power button on the front of the system only puts it into sleep mode, so make sure you hold it for at least 10 seconds for a full shutdown
If you have a working controller, you can also go to Settings > General > Power mode & startup and choose Full shutdown. Sometimes a quick reboot is all you need when an Xbox One controller isn’t working.
Try Connecting With a USB Cable Permanently
If you find that your Xbox controller connection issues clear up when using a USB cable, your best bet might be to use your controller as a wired device to prevent future issues. You can buy a long cable, like the 15-foot MATEIN micro-USB cable, so you don’t have to worry about sitting far away from your system.
This isn’t ideal, but it beats spending the money on another controller.
What If Your Xbox One Controller Is Still Not Working?
If nothing else works, head to the Xbox device support page. Sign in with your Microsoft account, register your console if you haven’t yet, and you can proceed through the steps to replace your controller. If Microsoft won’t replace it, you’ll need to look for a deal on a new controller instead.
Hopefully, one of these tips cleared up your Xbox One controller problem. Whether your controller won’t connect, keeps flashing, or won’t turn on, one of these tips should get you back in the game.
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