Gaming Mac

My Xbox controller buttons aren’t mapped properly on my Mac. How do I fix this?

Xbox controller
Mac magic: this fixes Xbox controller problems (Image by Anton Porsche from Pixabay)

This is one of those problems that has been bugging me for ages. My Xbox controllers (both for Xbox One and Xbox Series X) refused to work properly with my Mac. They would pair via Bluetooth, no problem, but buttons weren’t mapped properly. The A button was mapped to B, for example, and other control were out of whack. The same happened when I connected via USB cable.

Could I find a solution? Could I hell. Until now.

Even when Apple recently updated macOS 11 to support the new Xbox Series X/S controllers, it didn’t solve the problem. But after several hours of Googling and trying all sorts of different ‘solutions’ to the problem, I’ve finally cracked it.

I can’t explain why the solution below works. I can’t promise it’s going to work for you, but give it a shot. I was highly sceptical that it would do anything when I read the suggestion on the Apple forums, but it worked for me.

Here, then, is the solution that worked for me:

  1. Pair the controller to your Mac via Bluetooth. To do this, turn the controller on and press the pairing button on the top of the controller, the same one you’d use to pair it with the Xbox console. Now click the Bluetooth symbol in the Mac menu bar, select Bluetooth Preferences and hopefully your controller should appear in the list. Click on it to pair.
  2. Now visit the following page: https://gamepad-tester.com
  3. Press the buttons on your controller or waggle the joysticks and (hopefully) you should see the relevant button/joystick highlighted on the page, as shown below:

Amazingly, and for reasons I can’t really explain, this seemed to fix the mapping issues with my Xbox controller. If it doesn’t work for you, unpair the controller in the Mac’s Bluetooth settings, go back to step 1 and try again.

Once you’ve fixed the problem, even when you power the Mac down and switch off the controller, you shouldn’t need to go through the process again.

My huge thanks to PleasantSpectrum on the Apple support forums who discovered this solution.

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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