How to Swap an Xbox Controller From a Console to Your PC or Phone

How to Swap an Xbox Controller From a Console to Your PC or Phone
Contributor: Brendan Hesse

There’s a relatively unknown feature on Xbox Series X|S controllers that makes using it with multiple devices much easier: The controller’s “Sync” button has built-in shortcuts that let you swap between your most-recently-used Xbox console and your PC or mobile device automatically.

Strangely, this handy feature is basically hidden. Microsoft barely mentions it in any official documentation, and it wasn’t until recent posts on Reddit and Twitter that the function was ever shown on vide0 — which is odd, because it’s a feature that’s basically exclusive to the Xbox Series X|S controller right now. You can’t do this with a PlayStation 4 or 5 gamepad, the Switch’s Joycons or Pro Controller, or even the Xbox One or Xbox Elite controllers.

The Series X|S controllers support two types of wireless communication — Bluetooth and Microsoft’s proprietary Xbox Wireless — and it remembers the most-recently-used devices of each type. So you can connect the controller to an Xbox console via Xbox Wireless (or to a PC via an Xbox Wireless adaptor dongle) as well as a smartphone, tablet, or PC with Bluetooth, and the controller will remember both. Other controllers can only remember a single Bluetooth device at a time.

Microsoft clearly implemented the feature intentionally, and wisely made unique inputs for swapping connection types so you won’t get confused or mistakenly connect to the wrong thing:

  • To connect to your Bluetooth device: Hold the “Sync” button on the top of the controller. The Xbox icon will flash twice once it’s connected.
  • To connect to your Xbox Wireless device: Double-press the “Sync” button. The Xbox icon will pulse a single time once it’s connected.

Obviously, you can’t use the controller on both devices simultaneously (you wouldn’t want to anyway). The controller can only swap between one Xbox One or Series X|S console (or a PC using an Xbox Wireless adaptor), and one PC, phone, or tablet using Bluetooth. You can’t hot-swap between two Xboxes or two mobile phones — though you can switch between two PCs as long as one is using the Xbox wireless dongle and the other is using Bluetooth.

Limitations aside, this will definitely come in handy if you use the same controller to play games on your Xbox at home, and on your Android or iPhone via the Xbox app.

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