It’s awesome to game on the gorgeous display of a Mac computer. Whether you use Steam, OneCast, Apple Arcade, or emulators, it’s really fun and beautiful.
The only thing that might improve the experience is connecting a controller to your Mac—particularly when you play Xbox or other console games. Then you get great graphics and great control of your game.
There are a few ways to connect an Xbox controller to your Mac, depending on the kind of controller you’re trying to use. Find your model below to see how your controller can work with your computer.
Connecting Wireless Bluetooth Xbox Controllers
The controllers in this section all have one feature in common: Bluetooth connectivity. This makes wireless pairing possible not just with the Xbox One and Xbox One S/X consoles, but with Windows PCs and Macs as well.
To be clear, this section covers the following controllers:
- Xbox One S Wireless Controller
- Xbox One X Wireless Controller
- Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
- Xbox Adaptive Controller
Other console controllers can connect to a Mac via Bluetooth as well—we talk about it in our article on ways to improve your Mac gaming experience.
To pair one of these controllers with your Mac, turn the controller on, and press and hold the Pairing button on the device. This button is at the top of your controller, toward the left side.
The Xbox logo button should start blinking. This means the controller is in pairing mode.
On your Mac, go to System Preferences > Bluetooth. You’ll find a list of nearby devices to connect to, including one called Xbox wireless controller. Click on the Connect button to the right of that device name.
Your controller should now be paired with your Mac!
If you’re having issues, check out the Settings or Preferences on whatever gaming system you’re playing on, and look for a controller section.
To disconnect your controller when you’re done playing, go to System Preferences > Bluetooth, and hit the Disconnect button next to Xbox wireless controller.
Pre-2016 Xbox One Wireless Controller and Wired Xbox Controllers
Xbox One wireless controllers that came out before 2016 aren’t Bluetooth compatible. Therefore, although they’re wireless, they can’t be paired with a Mac the way the above controllers can.
You can still connect them though, just with a few extra steps. And with a few more steps than when you connect an Xbox controller to a PC.
These steps also apply to any wired Xbox controllers, including Xbox 360 controllers, if you still have any of those around and want to use them.
First, you have to download and install the driver 360Controller (Free).
Xbox drivers come natively to PCs, but Macs need them added. 360Controller is only available on GitHub. Make sure you get the most recent version.
Double click on the DMG file and run the PKG file. Then follow the onscreen instructions to install the driver.
Once the driver is installed, make sure you have the right cable for your controller and your Mac. You’ll need a micro USB on one side, for your controller, and a USB or USB-C on the other side, for your Mac. The latter part depends on which ports or converters you have on your Mac.
Once you have your cable, plug it into your controller, then into your Mac. Turn on your controller with the Xbox button.
Next, go to System Preferences > Xbox 360 Controllers, which should exist in your System Preferences now. You’ll get a map of your controller, plus its name at the top, which should be the Xbox model it goes with, plus (Wired) at the end.
You can reset or change your controller buttons by clicking on them on the map, and tapping new inputs on your controller. To disconnect the controller, just unplug it!
Xbox Series X and Series S Controllers
The Xbox Series X/S console is the latest generation in Microsoft’s gaming console. And it comes with wireless, Bluetooth controllers. But while some people have had luck connecting their Series X/S controllers to their Mac computers via the Bluetooth instructions above, many more haven’t.
As per an Apple Support page on connecting wireless controllers, Apple and Microsoft are working together to create Bluetooth compatibility support between the new Xbox Series X/S controllers and macOS.
This means compatibility doesn’t exist between the controllers and Mac computers just yet—at least, not at the time of writing this.
You can try using a cable—Microsoft sells a nine-foot USB-C cable—but that’s had little luck for most folks as well. Even less than the Bluetooth in fact.
So plan to connect via Bluetooth, per the Xbox One wireless controllers steps above when macOS gets the driver update for this compatibility. We’ll certainly be on the lookout for it.
Connecting Keeps Getting Easier
Apple and Microsoft aren’t well known for making their devices compatible with each other, but Xbox controllers show how that’s changing, particularly with the latest systems.
We hope our steps above help you get your Xbox controllers paired with your Mac, and that your gaming experience is that much better for it. We’ve had a lot of fun with ours, and with other console controllers too.