The recent rise of Apple Arcade brings new opportunities for gamers and questions. While Apple isn't known for its appeal to gamers, the company is making strides in that direction. Of all the peripherals one might want to connect to their macOS device, Xbox controllers were an afterthought. Until now.
This article will teach you how to control your Xbox One controller on your Mac computer.
Things to know
If you're used to pairing your Xbox One controller with other devices, you probably already know that it needs a good charge before pairing. A dying controller won't pair properly with any device, let alone your Mac.
Next, your Xbox One controller may be Bluetooth-enabled or wired. Depending on which one you are using, the instructions below may differ.
Finally, the ability to pair an Xbox One controller to your Mac will heavily depend on the model of Xbox One controller you are trying to use. Here is a list of compatible controllers:
- Xbox Wireless Controller with Bluetooth (Model 1708)
- Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
- Xbox Adaptive Controller
- Xbox Series S and X Series Wireless Controller
It's also important to know that your Mac must be running at least macOS Catalina or later. Now that everything is in order, let's learn how to pair an Xbox One controller with a Mac computer.
How to Pair an Xbox One Controller and Mac via Bluetooth
Fortunately, the process used to pair the two devices via Bluetooth is really simple. Here's how:
- Turn on your Xbox One controller by pressing and holding the Xbox button until it lights up.
- Next, press and hold the pairing button until the Xbox button flashes.
We recently showed you how to use your PS4 controller with your Mac to play both New and Classic games in OS X, but what about Microsoft fans? The good news is that you can also use an Xbox One controller with a Mac.
The (rather) bad news is that, unlike the plug-and-play and wireless nature of the PS4 controller, the Xbox controller requires third-party drivers and setup to run on OS X and will only work when connected via a USB cable.
There are several unofficial projects that aim to provide Xbox One controller support for the Mac, but the one we recommend is the Xone-OSX (now obsolete) project by Drew Mills (aka FranticRain).
To use it, first disconnect your Xbox One controller from your Mac if necessary (if you had tried just plugging it in without any drivers, you'll notice it does nothing, even though the controller is recognized in System Profiler) .
Then head to the (the Xone-OSX project page is now deprecated - no longer maintained by the developers) on GitHub for find the 360Controller page instead, which is described as a TattieBogle Xbox 360 driver (with improvements). Note that the 360Controller GitHub repository contains installation instructions and other instructions to help ease the transition.
- About – The driver supports the Xbox series of controllers including those listed in the About section.
- Installation – This section includes a link to the releases page so you can download the latest version and then install it using the installer. Note: If you are using a macOS version greater than or equal to macOS 10.13.4, you must use the version signed by "Drew Mills".
- Uninstall – If you decide to uninstall this driver, you can simply go to System Preferences, navigate to Xbox 360 Controllers, then click on the Advanced tab and finally click on Uninstall which will ask for your admin password to complete the process.
- Usage – Under Usage, you'll find help troubleshooting your controller as well as a list of games that don't work with it.
From the 360Controller page, download the 360ControllerInstall_1.0.0-alpha.3.dmg installation file. Next, double-click the dmg file to launch the installation wizard for installing the Xbox 360 controller driver, then follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
Note: The DMG file extension stands for Apple Disk Image File (ALIAS: Mac OS X Disk Image File), which is a mockery of the full disk image file.
You'll need to restart your Mac once the installation is complete, so be sure to save your work and close any open applications.
Once macOS has restarted, connect your Xbox One controller using a Micro-USB to USB Type-A cable and you will see the controller's Xbox LED light up if the driver installation was successful.
To set up your Xbox One controller for use with your Mac, head to System Preferences, where you'll find a new "Xone Controller" preference pane. With your Xbox One controller plugged in, you'll be able to test buttons and inputs, adjust dead zones for calibration, and optionally reverse the left or right thumbstick control scheme.
Unfortunately, you cannot use the Xbox One controller wirelessly, as Microsoft uses proprietary wireless technology for the Xbox One, compared to Sony, which uses the Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR standard.
We've been testing the new TattieBogle Xbox 360 driver for a few days and are happy to report that everything works just fine in apps like OpenEmu and modern OS X Games. Windows, but makes the Xbox One controller look like an Xbox 360 controller for most apps, ensuring maximum compatibility for the relatively limited number of games that support third-party controllers.
As with the PS4 controller, just be sure to go to each app's settings or preferences and select the Xbox One controller before starting the game (it shows up as "Microsoft Official Wired" in OpenEmu, for example).
If you're having trouble with Xone-OSX, another Xbox One controller project for Mac is Xbox One Controller Enabler (now deprecated as no longer used or maintained by developers), also hosted on GitHub. This project has been deprecated by sending users to them instead.