The Xbox Live Handbook is a book in progress. How to Use Xbox Live is part three of our epic walkthrough of Microsoft’s Console. You can check out other parts of the Handbook here. Feel free to make suggestions for changes in the margins — I mean comments.

The Xbox One has a lot of different ways for you to interface with it. The Kinect for Xbox One sensor is how Microsoft thinks anyone taking advantage of the console’s entertainment features or new to consoles in general will interact with it. There’s the Xbox One SmartGlass companion app for smartphones and the Xbox One Media Remote too. Still nothing tops the Xbox One Wireless Controller.

Microsoft created these other ways of interacting with the console because it wanted the entire family to have their way with it. Historically, controllers have had tons of buttons and are intimidating to newcomers.

The Xbox One Controller – The Buttons

The Xbox One Controller – The Buttons

The Xbox One controller is a pretty nifty package considering what we started with. Whereas its descendants were heavy and bulky, the Xbox One Wireless Controller is thin and light. Two elongated edges fill the palms of your hands when you first pick it up.

The face of the Xbox One Wireless Controller is covered in the buttons and joysticks you need to manipulate your console. A lot of people are used to buttons doing one thing and one thing only, but that’s not entirely how the Xbox One Wireless Controller – or any controller really – works at all. There are just two buttons on the Xbox One Wireless Controller that will do the same thing all the time. One of them is the controller sync button on the top edge of the near the microUSB port. The other is the Xbox button. We’ll get into the Xbox button deeply in a bit.

Near your right hand are the action buttons. They’re considered the action buttons because whether you’re in a game or an app, pressing them will almost always correspond to an action on-screen. They are Y, B, X and A. Near your right thumb is the right joystick. Unlike the action buttons, it doesn’t always correspond to something happening on a screen. In video games, it acts as your camera guide mostly. You’ll use it to look around in-game environments that you visit and more. Hardly anything outside of a game uses this joystick. If you’ve positioned your hand right, you should feel the right bumper underneath your index finger. Below that is the right trigger.


Your left thumb should be resting on the left joystick. This joystick is how you navigate the Xbox One interface entirely. Move it to the right and your cursor in the Xbox One Dashboard does to. Move your finger to the left and your character in most games will. Some games, like Titanfall force you to push this joystick down for running or other actions, but that’s rare. Below the left joystick is your directional pad. The directional pad lets you navigate the software that the Xbox One runs, which is called the Dashboard. Some games add controls here too, but not all of them. There’s a left bumper and right trigger on this end of the Xbox One controller too.


In the middle of the Xbox One Wireless Controller is the Xbox button and flanking is the View button on the left and the Menu button on the right. The Menu button is contextual and gives you a list of different options when you’re playing a game, browsing your games or inside an app. In many ways, pressing the Menu button is like right-clicking on something in Windows. The View button is contextual too. Internet Explorer uses the View button to open the address bar, for example. The Live TV app on the Xbox One uses this button for a miniature television guide.

The Xbox button is the only thing on your controller that’ll likely do the same thing without question every single time. If you’re familiar with Apple’s iPad, it’s the console’s equivalent of the Home button. If you’re ever lost tap it and you’ll find yourself in a familiar place: the Xbox One Dashboard. The Xbox button does the same thing when you press it, but has different functions when you do things like press it twice.


Pressing it twice quickly inside a game gets you the multitasking menu. From there you can choose to snap an app to the side of your screen. You also press twice quickly if you’d like to capture a screenshot or video of something in your game. Hold the Xbox button down until the Xbox One Wireless Controller vibrates and you get options to turn off the controller or the Xbox One entirely.

The Xbox One Controller – The Buttons & Other Stuff

The Xbox One Controller – The Buttons & Other Stuff

There are three more things that you should take note of on this tour of the Xbox One Wireless controller. On the side of the controller that always faces your palms is an expansion slot. There’s not much that uses it today except the Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter that lets you use any pair of headphones with your console.

Facing away from you is the sync button that lets you pair the controller with your console. You need to press it and the corresponding button on the left face of your Xbox One at the same time to initiate a successful pairing. If you look closely around that button you’ll notice that the plastic is kind of see through. That’s because the Xbox One uses the Kinect for Xbox One sensor to identify where a controller is in the room and login to that person’s specific profile. It’s great for when you’re playing multiplayer games and want to hand off control to someone else.


Also in this window is a MicroUSB port that allows you to charge the controller if you’ve purchased an Xbox One Wireless Charging Pack. If you haven’t and your controller is dead, plug it into your console and keep playing. Plugging in a MicroUSB cable is the only way to let the Xbox One Wireless Controller communicate with a PC right now.

The third area and last stop on your tour should be the battery compartment. Place your thumb on the battery door push up to open the battery compartment. The little plastic door will come and you’re free to insert fresh batters or a battery pack. The Xbox One Wireless Controller takes AA batteries if you haven’t purchased a Charging Pack. The controller’s serial number is in here too in case you need to send it back to Microsoft at some point.


That’s the Xbox One Controller. Every official Xbox One Controller has its buttons in the exact same place that yours does. That being said, some may look a bit different. Microsoft makes special edition controllers for some popular games and different colored consoles.

The controller itself doesn’t have a battery meter. To see how much power you have left, press the Xbox button to go back to the Dashboard and look at the bottom right corner of your screen. How much battery power you have left along with the time should be there.

Above all us, treat your Xbox One Wireless Controller as if it is as precious as your disc-based games. They’re not fragile, but they are precision instruments that you’re going to be spending a lot of time with. Also, buying a new one actually costs as much as a single game at places like GameStop and Best Buy: $60.