How to link your Xbox controller to a computer or phone and then return to your console

You already have a wonderful choice for playing controller-based games on a PC or smartphone if you own any wireless Xbox controller from the current or previous generation. The fact that these controllers support both the Xbox Wireless protocol and Bluetooth is crucial to their flexibility. 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 after Apple released 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).
It’s simple to connect to all of these devices, and switching between an Xbox console and a Bluetooth device is as simple.
The following is how you put everything up:

  • To begin, connect your Xbox Series X, Xbox One, or Elite 2 controller to your smartphone or computer. You can always play on a PC with a USB cord, but we’re here to make the most of your wireless controller’s potential. Press and hold the sync button on the back of your controller, which is immediately above the USB-C port on the Series X gamepad, to enable wireless pairing. The Xbox logo on the front of the controller will flash rapidly after a few seconds.
  • Then, on the device you’re trying to sync with the controller, go through the normal Bluetooth pairing process and look for the controller in the Bluetooth settings menu. My Xbox Series X controller, for example, appears on iOS 15 as “Xbox Wireless Controller,” followed by a four-digit number. The name auto-filled with a lengthier sequence of numbers and letters after I tapped it, and it prompted me to couple it. After that, I choose the controller with which I wanted to pair it. Make sure to click “Add new device” under Bluetooth and Devices on Windows 10 / 11 PCs.
  • The white Xbox logo should go solid after the controller is connected to your new device through Bluetooth, and you can start playing games right away!
  • Double-tap the sync button to reconnect your controller to your Xbox Series X / S console. The Xbox logo will gently flash, and the controller should automatically reconnect to your system.
  • Double-tap the sync button to switch the controller back to the Bluetooth device from the Xbox. The Xbox logo flashes slowly once more before reconnecting to your device.

That concludes our discussion. Connecting a Bluetooth-enabled Xbox One, Elite 2, or Xbox Series X controller to different devices and switching between them and your Xbox is now a breeze. There are more reasons to play Xbox games away from your console — as well as, of course, PC games — with remote play and a growing list of titles available via the Xbox Cloud Gaming Beta.

One thing to keep in mind: this quick-swap feature only works with the controller’s most recent Bluetooth-connected mobile device or PC. The controller switches between its Xbox Wireless and Bluetooth protocols when you double-tap the sync button. At any given moment, it can only be synced with one Xbox system and one Bluetooth device. So, if you want to switch between your Xbox Series X / S and another device rapidly, you’ll need to manually set up your controller with the new device first.

Additionally, because the Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows uses the same wireless technology as Xbox consoles, you won’t be able to switch between them quickly.

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