How To Fix an Xbox Controller That Won’t Connect to PC

The Xbox controller can be used to play PC games, which yields a better experience for some gamers. However, there are times when the device stubbornly refuses to connect to your computer.

How To Fix an Xbox Controller That Won’t Connect to PC

This issue can be very irritating and you may be tempted to give up, but don’t lose hope; there are a few simple ways to fix the issue. By following these tricks, your controller could be back to normal in no time. Read on for all the details.

Xbox Controller Won’t Connect to PC with Bluetooth

The newer Xbox One controller model can be paired with any computer with Bluetooth functionality. Therefore, this section won’t apply to older controller models that run on a proprietary standard and require a dongle.

If you own a standard Bluetooth Xbox One controller, there are a few neat fixes you can try.

The Xbox Series X|S controllers also use Bluetooth. One primary difference is the Xbox One controller uses Micro USB cables to charge and sync to devices, while the Series X|S controllers require a USB-C wire instead.

Toggle Bluetooth On and Off

Sometimes, you won’t see the controller on your list of available Bluetooth devices. One solution is to simply disable and enable Bluetooth connectivity again. Sometimes that’s enough to solve the problem.

If not, try removing the controller’s batteries and ensure it’s not connected via a USB cable. If this solution works, you can continue playing your games using the controller.

Switch Batteries

The batteries you use with your controller can also affect connectivity, especially if they’re not disposable ones. Third-party rechargeable packs can also malfunction because they’re not an official product. Should a battery swap work, stick with it, and stop using the previous ones.

Restart the Controller

Sometimes, restarting a device solves all problems, which can also work with an Xbox controller. Hold the Xbox button down for several seconds to turn it off. Hopefully, your computer will detect it once it’s active again.

Update the Firmware

The proper firmware is necessary for USB or Bluetooth accessories to work with anything, whether it be a PC or video game console. Controllers may not have their firmware kept up to date, which may prevent compatibility with the latest version of Windows. Thankfully, there’s a step you can take to fix this issue.

The easiest solution is to connect your Xbox controller to an Xbox One console using a USB cable or wirelessly. Doing so will install the newest firmware.

However, those who only have the controller can still renew the firmware using Windows 10 computers and later.

  1. Download and install Xbox Accessories.
  2. Connect the controller to your PC via a USB cable.
  3. Open the Xbox Accessories software.
  4. Update your controller.
  5. Once the update is complete, close the software.

These steps are simple enough to try, and the controller should work with your PC once again. If your Windows PC recently received an update, it’s best to check if that affects Xbox controller usage.

Optimize the Signal

The Xbox controller will work even if you’re farther away from the computer, but having too many active Bluetooth devices or other objects may disrupt the signal. That’s why your PC may not detect your controller, especially if there’s some distance and interference.

The solution to having too much interference is to reduce the number of Bluetooth devices currently running. It would help if you also had as few objects between the controller and PC as possible. That way, the connection will be stronger with less chance of disruption.

Try a Comprehensive Troubleshoot

The troubleshooter on Windows is a handy tool that may identify the problem. Here are the steps for Windows 11.

  1. Open the Windows Start Menu.
  2. Go to the Settings menu.
  3. Pick “System.”
  4. Search for and click on “Troubleshoot Settings” and then look for “Additional Troubleshooters.”
  5. Select “Run” beside “Hardware And Devices.”

The steps are slightly different on Windows 10.

  1. Go to the Start Menu.
  2. Navigate to the Settings menu.
  3. Select “Update & Security.”
  4. Head to “Troubleshoot Settings”
  5. Click on “Additional Troubleshooters.”
  6. Select “Hardware And Devices.”
  7. Click on “Run The Troubleshooter.”

You can use the same steps for the Bluetooth troubleshooter, as they’re located on the same page. Both will let you troubleshoot the Xbox controller if you select it.

If this manages to identify the problem, it will be much easier for you to fix it.

Xbox Controller Won’t Connect to PC Wired Directly

Some users prefer using a wired connection even with the latest controllers. The main advantage is that the gamers won’t need to worry about running out of battery in wired mode. However, there are times when the controller doesn’t connect to the PC.

Wrong USB Cable

There are two main types of USB cables: a charge-only line and sync cables. Charge-only cables will only provide the Xbox controller with power but won’t let it transfer data. Therefore, it’s not recommended to use them for gaming.

You may have accidentally used a charge-only cable with your controller. Instead, you can swap the cable out in seconds, and the controller should work with your PC after the change.

Sync cables are thicker and have a special symbol on the USB-A end. It consists of a dot and one straight line with an arrow. The line has two branches coming out of it, one ending with a circle and the other a square.

If your cable has this USB symbol, it will work with your Xbox controller.

Broken Cable

A broken cable will also prevent the controller from connecting to a PC. The only solution is to replace it with another working wire. If this doesn’t work, your controller might be broken, or there may be other issues with Windows.

Xbox Controller Won’t Connect to PC Driver Error

A driver error refers to the scenario when a computer acknowledges the Xbox controller but the drivers are broken. The result is a pop-up with “driver error” on it, and the controller doesn’t work. Fortunately, the solution is a straightforward one.

  1. Right-click in any blank space on the Windows home screen.
  2. Select “Device Manager.”
  3. Look for the Xbox One controller.
  4. Click on “Uninstall Device.”
  5. After this process is complete, select “Scan For Hardware Changes.”
  6. Windows should install the default driver and allow you to use your controller again.

This issue is more applicable for those who have been using the controller for a while but suddenly experience a failure to connect.

Update Windows

Older versions of Windows may not work with the latest Xbox controllers, which is why keeping your PC up to date is crucial for the best experience.

  1. Click on the Windows button in the bottom-left corner.
  2. Select the gear icon.
  3. Go to “Update & Security.”
  4. Pick “Check For Updates” on the right side.
  5. Wait for Windows to update and restart.

If this solution works, you can easily play your games on PC using the controller again.

In the end, all electronics will fail one day. Sometimes the day comes too soon, but if none of these methods work, you’ll likely need a new Xbox One controller.

An Easy Fix

In most circumstances, an Xbox controller refusing to connect to a PC is an easy fix that involves changing cables or replacing batteries. Windows has full support for Xbox controllers, and they usually run smoothly for most people. Even so, you never know when these repair tips will come in handy.

Which of these methods are new to you? Do you know of other solutions? Let us know in the comments section below.

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