Gaming

How do I connect my Xbox controller to a Steam Deck?

Xbox Controller
Out of control: Here's help with connecting a Xbox controller to your Steam Deck

The Xbox wireless controller is an excellent companion for the Steam Deck. It’s robust, affordable and compatible with most games. The button layout is also the same as the Steam Deck, making it much more convenient to use when big-screen gaming. Of course, that’s all fine and dandy if you can connect your Xbox controller to a Steam Deck. If you’re struggling to make things work, then read on.

How to connect an Xbox controller to a Steam Deck

If you’re unsure how to connect your Xbox controller to your Steam Deck, the process is pretty simple:

  1. Press the STEAM Button on your Steam Deck
  2. Select Settings from the left-hand menu
  3. Select Bluetooth
  4. On the right-hand menu, first check that Bluetooth is turned on. If it isn’t, tap the toggle switch to turn it on (The toggle will become blue with the button to the right)
  5. Press the Xbox Button on your controller to turn it on
  6. Press and hold the connect button on the controller until the Xbox button blinks rapidly. The connect button lives between the shoulder buttons at the front of the controller
  7. The Xbox Wireless controller should now show under the heading AVAILABLE TO PAIR. Select it, and it will now appear under the Heading PAIRED. When it does, you should be ready to go
Xbox controller showing connected to Steam Deck

But the controller isn’t working?

If you’re having trouble connecting, try restarting the Steam Deck and also check for any software updates. Another option is to disconnect and reconnect the controller if it isn’t working but shows under the PAIRED section. To remove the controller:

  1. In the Bluetooth menu on the Steam Deck, select the Xbox Wireless Controller.
  2. From the menu that appears, choose Forget Device
Forget the device when disconnecting a controller from a Steam Deck
  1. The controller will now no longer show on the list. To reconnect, follow the steps in the How do I connect my Xbox controller to my Steam Deck? section

If none of that helps, then the next step is to check the firmware on your Xbox controller, as older versions don’t work well with the Steam Deck. You can check and update to the latest firmware using either an Xbox or a Windows PC. Let’s take a look at both.

Updating the controller’s firmware using an Xbox

All new wireless Xbox controllers should automatically update to the latest firmware when connected to an Xbox. To check and update the firmware if it’s needed:

  1. Connect the Xbox controller to your Xbox, if you haven’t already done so
  2. Press the Xbox button on your controller to open the guide
  3. Select Profile & System > Settings > Devices and connections > Accessories, and find your controller
  4. Click on the three vertical dots shown under the picture of the controller. If an update is available, it will show Update Now in the top left of the screen. To update, click on Update Now and follow the prompts

If your controller doesn’t show up on your Xbox, you can also connect and update using a USB cable. To do so, plug the cable into both devices, and the instructions to install the update should appear. Follow the steps, and don’t disconnect the USB cable while it updates. If the update instructions don’t appear automatically, leave the cable attached and follow the same steps above as if you’re checking wirelessly.

Once the update completes, disconnect any cables and you’re then ready to reconnect your controller to the Steam Deck. If your controller still shows under PAIRED in the Bluetooth menu on the Deck, remove it and reconnect again.

Updating the controller’s firmware using a PC

You can update the firmware of your Xbox controller using the Xbox Accessories app on a Windows 10/11 PC:

  1. If you don’t already have the Xbox Accessories app, download it from the Microsoft Store
  2. Once downloaded, open the app and connect your Xbox Wireless controller using a USB cable
  3. The controller should now show in the app. When it does, click on the three vertical dots shown under the picture of the controller. If an update is available, it will show Update Now in the top left of the screen. To update, click on Update Now and follow the prompts
  1. Once the update completes, disconnect any cables, and you’re then ready to reconnect your controller to the Steam Deck. If the controller still shows under PAIRED in the Bluetooth menu on the Deck, remove it and reconnect again

Upgrade the SSD on your Steam Deck

About the author

Mark Parvin

I have worked with and wrote about computers, video games and consumer tech for more years than I care to admit.
I currently run my own IT support business and write about the wonders of tech whenever I can.

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