Xbox controller won't connect: How to fix sync issues on Xbox and PC

Xbox Series X S Controller Hero
Xbox Series X S Controller Hero (Image credit: Windows Central)

Even the best Xbox controllers may become desynchronized at times, for a number of reasons. Whether an unruly update knocked your controller offline, or you reset your Xbox to start afresh, there are a number of ways you can fix up and resync your controller to get back into your game.

Here are some steps you can run through to try to sort it out.

Resync your Xbox controller wirelessly

Xbox controller pair

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The first thing you should try is to re-pair your Xbox controller to your Xbox console. These steps work across any modern Xbox console, from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox Series X or Series S.

  1. Press and hold the Xbox logo button for 8-10 seconds on your controller until it turns off.
  2. Press and hold the Xbox button for a few seconds until it turns back on. The Xbox button should be flashing slowly, indicating that it's not synchronized to anything.
  3. Press and hold the binding button on the top of the controller. It's situated next to the USB port, depicted in the picture above.
  4. The Xbox button will flash more rapidly, indicating that it's in pairing mode.
  5. Press and hold the binding button on your Xbox console. It's situated on the front of the console, and may be in slightly different positions depending on your model. It will have a similar wireless iconography as it does on your controller.
  6. Hold the Xbox controller still, near your console. Once both lights turn solid, they should be resynchronized.

Resync Xbox controller using a USB-C cable

Xbox Elite Series 2 Controller

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

If the wireless buttons didn't work, alternatively, you can force pairing using a USB cable instead.

  1. For this, it's worth trying to power off the entire Xbox. Press and hold the power button on your Xbox until it fully turns off, then disconnect the power for a minute or so. This fully power cycles the console.
  2. Before you turn on the Xbox console, connect your Xbox controller to your Xbox console with a USB cable.
  3. Turn on your Xbox console by powering on the connected Xbox controller, pressing the Xbox button.
  4. Once the Xbox console has fully powered on, you should be able to disconnect the USB cable, and the controller should remain fully synced up having received pairing information from the controller directly.

Additional troubleshooting tips

If none of the above methods worked, here are some other potential troubleshooting tips.

  • Try double-tapping the bind button on the top edge of your controller. Double-tapping the bind button swaps the signal between Bluetooth and Xbox Wireless, and there's a chance you switched it to Bluetooth mode by mistake.
  • Try disconnecting nearby Xbox wireless headsets. Occasionally, some wireless headsets have been known to interfere with Xbox controller signals.
  • Disconnect any other peripherals, like wired headsets or keypads, then attempt to resync.
  • Make sure the battery is charged up. A low charge can cause sync issues.
  • Try syncing a different controller if you can, to test whether it's an issue with the Xbox or the controller itself.

Contact Microsoft for repairs

If all else fails, you may need to contact Microsoft for a repair. If the controller works on other Xbox consoles, and you can't sync other Xbox controllers to your Xbox, there may be an issue with the wireless receiver on your Xbox. If the controller doesn't work on other Xbox consoles, or even via Bluetooth on your phone or PC, then it could be that there's an issue with the wireless connection on the controller itself. Getting a repair from Microsoft is relatively simple, but depends on local laws and warranty status.

  1. Register your device with your Xbox account at Microsoft's devices portal here.
  2. Select "Register a device" at the top, and follow the steps on adding your console or your controller.
  3. You'll need the serial number to add it to the site. For Xbox consoles, the serial number is usually on the back. For controllers, it's typically inside the battery door on the back.
  4. If your device is in warranty, you should be able to click into it and order a repair.
Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden 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 caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!