How to use AirPods and other Bluetooth headphones on Xbox

Xbox controller with Apple AirPods
(Image credit: Windows Central | Jez Corden)

Want to use your Apple AirPods or Galaxy Buds on your Xbox? Look no further. 

There are dozens upon dozens of great Xbox headsets out there, including those listed in our best Xbox headsets list. However, what if you want to just use the Bluetooth earbuds you already have?

Stuff like Apple's AirPods don't work natively on Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One, since neither generation of console has Bluetooth support. There are some rumors that the next Xbox may support Bluetooth, but we're not quite there yet. 

As of right now, you need to use either 3.5mm or USB wired headphones, or wireless headphones designed for Xbox specifically, either via USB dongles or the Xbox Wireless signal. Popular earbuds like the Apple AirPods or Samsung Galaxy Buds are awesome, convenient, and sound great, but they don't connect natively to Xbox. But thankfully, there IS a workaround, and all it requires is a cheap accessory available on Amazon and other retailers. 

Say hi to the Skull & Co Bluetooth audio adapter for Xbox consoles. You'll need this accessory to get the below methods to work. We've used it and tested it for ourselves, and can confirm it fully works with Apple AirPods, Galaxy Buds, and any other Bluetooth earbuds you might have lying around. 

Skull & Co Xbox Bluetooth Audio Adapter | $34.99

Skull & Co Xbox Bluetooth Audio Adapter | $34.99

The Skull & Co Xbox Bluetooth Audio Adapter lets you use any Bluetooth headphones on your Xbox console, whether it's Apple AirPods, Samsung Galaxy Buds, Raycon Earbuds, and beyond. 

See at: <a href="" data-link-merchant="Amazon US"">Amazon

How to use AirPods and other Bluetooth earbuds with Xbox One & Series X|S

Skull & Co Xbox adapter

The Skull & Co Xbox Bluetooth adapter makes using Bluetooth earbuds really simple on your Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One.  (Image credit: Windows Central | Jez Corden)

There's a huge ecosystem of accessories for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One, with cross-generational compatibility for both. Whether it's headphones, controllers, keyboards and mice, storage accessories, and much more, the list of best Xbox accessories is truly exhaustive. However, native Bluetooth support has eluded the box. Until now. 

Method 1: Skull & Co and other manufacturers make 3.5mm to Bluetooth accessories for your Xbox controller. They slot in underneath using the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S controller's proprietary data port, as well as the 3.5mm port that comes with the more recent iterations. 

Method 2: The other workaround is to connect your Bluetooth earbuds directly to your TV. Most modern smart TVs come with Bluetooth as standard, but there are also similar 3.5mm adapters for TV sets as well that you could potentially use here. 

We'll go over how to achieve the above in steps below. 

How to use AirPods with Xbox (Using Adapter)

(Image credit: Windows Central | Jez Corden)

The Skull & Co Bluetooth adapter for Xbox is super simple to set up. It uses only around 1W of power and won't have a huge impact on your controller's battery life. It supports all Xbox controllers that have a 3.5mm jack, although the fit and snugness might vary based on model. Every Xbox controller has a very slightly different shape, but the port alignment is the same across all devices. 

These steps are true for the Skull & Co Bluetooth adapter for Xbox, but will likely work with any similar product from Amazon. For AirPods and Galaxy Buds, we recommend this one. 

This adapter has memory for two Bluetooth devices, but if you pair a third, the data on the first will be overwritten, etc. It functions with one device at a time. 

(Image credit: Windows Central | Jez Corden)
  1. First, to avoid overlapping your devices, be sure to disconnect your Apple AirPods or Galaxy Buds from your iPhone or Android device. You can do this by going into the Bluetooth / devices settings, or by turning off the Bluetooth receiver on your device. 
  2. Now, set your Bluetooth headphones into pairing mode. Pairing mode will vary by device, but typically, setting the earbuds into their dock and opening the lid turns on "pairing mode" for most earbuds of that format, like the Apple AirPods. 
  3. Connect the Skull & Co adapter into your Xbox controller. Line up the data port and the 3.5mm port as seen above and be sure to push it in hard. 

(Image credit: Windows Central | Jez Corden)
  1. Your next step is to slide the adapter's Bluetooth switch to "PAIR" and push it right for 3 seconds. The lights will begin to flash, and your headphones should pair automatically if they're in pairing mode. It may take a little while, or a couple of attempts for the pairing process to complete. If you're having trouble, double check that your earbuds aren't already paired to something else.
  2. Now, your earbuds should be connected to your Xbox for audio! You should see a "headset assigned" notification on your Xbox if the pairing was successful. 
  3. You can adjust the sound mix by opening your Xbox guide by pressing the Xbox button, and then selecting the speaker icon at the bottom. 

As an additional note, the Skull & Co adapter also comes with a built-in microphone switch you can use for voice chat if your headphones don't work for this purpose.

The adapter will automatically turn into sleep mode if the controller is turned off, so there's no real need to turn it off unless you want to disconnect your headphones or AirPods to swap them back to your phone. It should automatically remember and re-pair to your earbuds later, if you disconnect them from Bluetooth on your other devices. 

How to use AirPods with Xbox (Using TV or Monitor)

Xbox Cloud Gaming on Samsung TV

(Image credit: Future)

If you don't want to buy a Skull & Co adapter, your TV might be a good option too. 

Most of the best TVs for Xbox now come with Bluetooth support as standard, and can re-route your HDMI audio from your Xbox from your TV speakers to your earbuds. 

The methodology for connecting a TV to a Bluetooth earbuds device will vary, but here are the steps for a typical Samsung smart TV. If you don't have a Samsung TV, following the same steps to pair a Bluetooth speaker should work. 

(Image credit: Windows Central | Jez Corden)
  1. Once again, make sure your earbuds are disconnected from their previous device. I typically do this by just toggling off Bluetooth on my Android phone using the quick settings. This way you don't have to fully unpair the headphones. 
  2. Set your Apple AirPods or Galaxy Buds into pairing mode by placing the headphones in their dock, and opening the lid. 
  3. On your Samsung TV, open the settings menu by pressing the home button your remote, and navigating left to the settings cogwheel. 

(Image credit: Windows Central | Jez Corden)
  1. Navigate to the Sound settings, then select Sound Output. 
  2. Now, select Bluetooth Speaker List. You should see your device if it is correctly in pairing mode. It should say "needs pairing." 
  3. Select the device, and you should now get all of your TV and Xbox audio through to your earbuds. This won't work for Xbox party chat of course, but it works fine for playing games solo. 

The best ways to connect AirPods and Galaxy Buds to Xbox

Skull & Co Xbox adapter

(Image credit: Windows Central | Jez Corden)

Our top recommendation goes to the Skull & Co Xbox Bluetooth adapter method, especially if you want party chat support. Although if you have a TV with Bluetooth, there's no real need. 

Bluetooth has proliferated heavily in the last couple of decades. It has improved leaps and bounds in subsequent versions, and the technology remains the best for cross-device compatibility. 

Microsoft hasn't typically supported Bluetooth natively on Xbox, but that could be about to change. Leaked documents for the next Xbox suggest Bluetooth support, although it remains unconfirmed whether or not those mid-gen refresh Xbox consoles are going ahead. Bluetooth receivers may be difficult to squeeze into the box, and maintain margins, however. Xbox and PlayStation both have wafer-thin profit margins, meaning they're sold at close to, or very actually zero profit. Companies profit by selling games and microtransactions on video game consoles typically, and adding features like Bluetooth adds to costs that either need to be passed on to consumers, or absorbed. 

Yet still, Bluetooth isn't exactly super expensive to include potentially, although if Microsoft added official Bluetooth adapters or Bluetooth adapter support via USB, it would extend the options available. Most people have devices like Apple AirPods or Samsung Galaxy Buds, so it would be incredibly convenient to get these kinds of options in the future. 

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!