The Xbox One has a lot of different ways for you to interact with it, but nothing tops the Xbox Wireless Controller.
Unless you still have a Kinect for Xbox One, download the Xbox app or purchase an Xbox Media Remote, playing games or watching TV shows on your console will require you to use the Xbox Wireless Controller a lot. Here’s how.
How to Use the Xbox Wireless Controller: The Buttons Joysticks & Triggers
The Buttons, Joysticks and Triggers
The Xbox Wireless Controller was designed with gaming and comfort in mind. Pick up your controller and run your fingers along it to get more familiar with it. The buttons and joysticks you need to manipulate in-game characters and navigate apps cover its face.
Almost all the Xbox Wireless Controller’s buttons do different things depending on what app you’re in. That is, except for two. Pressing the Xbox Logo at the center of your controller will always open the Xbox Guide. From that guide, you can open new games, send Party invites, switch apps and more. Pressing the sync button on the front of the controller will always put it into pairing mode so that you can connect it to your PC or Xbox One.
The action buttons sit underneath your right thumb as you grip the controller. They’re called the action buttons because whether you’re in a game or an app, pressing them will always correspond to an action on-screen. They are Y, B, X and A.
Under the action buttons 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 a way to move your camera, usually. You’ll use it to look around in-game environments that you visit and more.
If you’ve positioned your hand correctly, you should feel the right bumper underneath your right index finger. Below that is the right trigger. These are also contextual, just like the action buttons on the face of the Xbox Wireless Controller.
Your left thumb should be resting on the left joystick. This joystick is how you navigate the Xbox One interface and control your characters in games. Move it to the right and your cursor or character will do the same. Move your left thumb to the left and your character in most games will move too. 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 Xbox One’s software too. Some games use these buttons as controls for your character’s, but not all of them.
As your Xbox Wireless Controller sits in your hand, your left index finger should rest on the left bumper or left trigger. Once again, what these buttons do depends on what games you are in.
The View button and the Menu button flank the Xbox button at the center of your controller. 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 on a Windows PC. The View button does different things depending on the app or game you are in. Pressing it sometimes does nothing at all.
Xbox Wireless Controllers don’t have an off button. Let them sit idle and they’ll turn themselves off. You can manually turn them off by holding down the Xbox button in the center of your controller and selecting Turn Off Controller from the menu that appears on your TV.
The Xbox One Controller: Ports & Other Stuff
Ports & Other Stuff
There are three more things that you should take note of on this tour of the Xbox Wireless Controller.
Every Xbox Wireless Controller has three ways for you to connect something to it. The panel that faces you holds a headset jack and an expansion port. Only the Xbox ChatPad and Chat Headset use the expansion port. That headset jack lets you use any pair of headphones you have to listen to game audio and chat with other people. It’s very useful when you want to avoid waking up other people.
The last port on the Xbox Wireless Controller is a MicroUSB port. If you have the Xbox One Power Kit, plug a USB cable into this port to charge your controller. This port also doubles as a way to connect the controller to a Windows 10 PC.
Our last stop on your tour of the Xbox Wireless Controller is the battery compartment. Place your thumb on the door on the back of the controller and push up to open the battery compartment. The Xbox Wireless Controller takes AA batteries if you haven’t purchased a Power Kit. There’s no battery meter on the controller itself, so press the Xbox button to see how much power your controller has left on the bottom-right corner of your TV.
That’s the Xbox Wireless Controller. Every official Xbox One Controller has its buttons and triggers in the same place. If you know how to use one Xbox Wireless Controller, you’ll never need to learn again.
That being said, some Xbox Wireless Controllers look very different. Stores are filled with limited edition and special edition controllers designed to complement Minecraft, Gears of War, Halo and more.
Order through the Xbox Design Lab website and you can create a custom Xbox Wireless Controller, complete with paint job and engraving. I chronicled my experience ordering through the site in this Xbox Design Lab review from a few years ago. Since it was published, Microsoft has added rubber grips and metallic colors as options.
The Xbox Elite Controller has those same rubber grips and a lot more and buttons for you to master. It’s designed with hardcore gamers in mind, which is why it has interchangeable joysticks, hair triggers, and paddles on the back. Read my Xbox Elite Controller review if you’re interested in picking one up.
Above all else, treat your Xbox Wireless Controller as if it is as precious as your disc-based games. They’re not fragile, but they are precision instruments that you will spend a lot of time with. Also, buying a new controller costs as much as a single game does: $60.
Before you move on to the next chapter, heed this advice: Always look for a headset jack on the bottom of any used controller you buy from GameStop, Amazon or eBay. Older Xbox Wireless Controllers don’t have headset jacks or Bluetooth connectivity, but sometimes cost the same as the newer controllers.
Also, you don’t have to buy an Xbox Wireless Controller to play games. There are wired controllers that connect to the USB port on the front of your console and cost far less than $60.