The Xbox controller is a great controller to use with a Windows PC. Connecting it is generally an easy and almost automatic process. But if the Xbox controller is not working in Windows 11, you cannot use it in any games. This seems to happen in cases where a Windows device has been upgraded from Windows 10 to Windows 11, and it can have various causes.
Steps to fix Xbox controller problems in Windows 11
In order for the Xbox controller to work in Windows 11, a number of requirements need to be met. To fix issues, it is best to use the steps below in sequence to make sure everything is in place.
#1 Update Windows
Running Windows Update in Windows 11 will ensure that the patches are installed and nothing is pending that can cause problems. Running Windows Update might require restarting the PC as well.
Use the Settings window to Check for Updates (2) in the Windows Update (1) section.
After running the normal updates, also use the option Advanced options to check for Optional Updates and install any pending items. Optional Updates often include driver updates, which may help fix the issue with the Xbox controller.
#2 Reinstall the device drivers
For any hardware device to function under Windows 11, a device driver is required. In the case of the Xbox controller, multiple drivers are actually required.
Even if no updated drivers are available, reinstalling device drivers can often fix issues. The drivers that are important for the Xbox controller are:
- Chipset drivers – these make sure that the system, motherboard, and all onboard hardware is working. In most cases, this will be the Intel chipset drivers, but other chipset devices are also possible. Check the PC manufacturer for the right chipset driver installer.
- Bluetooth drivers – these make sure that wireless Bluetooth communication can function. Before a Bluetooth device, like the Xbox controller, can connect to a Windows 11 PC, Bluetooth communication needs to be operational. In many cases, the Bluetooth drivers are part of the Wi-Fi driver installer (like with many Intel chipsets). But a separate Bluetooth driver can also be required, especially if a separate Bluetooth dongle (USB) is used (Realtek for example).
- USB drivers – if a cabled connection is used between the Xbox controller and the Windows 11 PC, the USB controller drivers will be used. Check for USB Host Controllers in the Universal Serial Bus controller category of the Device manager.
- Xbox controller driver – the Xbox controller driver ensures that Windows 11 can communicate with the controller and use all functions. Update the Xbox controller driver directly from the Device Manager.
#3 Uninstall Xbox Controller
If updating or reinstalling the drivers does not work, it may be best to completely reinstall the Xbox controller device. To do this, use the Device Manager. Instead of using the Update driver option in the popup menu, select the Uninstall option.
After uninstalling the Microsoft Xbox Controller (or Microsoft Xbox One Controller), restart Windows 11 to reinstall the device. If necessary, use the Scan for hardware changes option in the Action menu of the Device Manager to forcefully check for devices and reinstall the Xbox controller driver.
#4 Reconnect the Xbox controller
In some cases, the connection between the Xbox controller and the Windows 11 device is lost. If the connection uses Bluetooth, the connection might need to be re-established. The easiest way to do this is to unpair the controller and then pair it again.
Tip: for USB connections, simply disconnect the USB cable, restart Windows, and connect the USB cable again.
Remove the Xbox controller from the Bluetooth devices using these steps.
- Click the Bluetooth icon on the Taskbar (1).
- In the popup menu, select the option Show Bluetooth Devices (2).
- This will open the Settings window showing the Bluetooth devices.
- Click the 3 horizontal dots next to the Xbox Controller and in the popup menu, select Remove device.
- Now restart the computer and use the Add device option in the Bluetooth & devices section of the Settings window to add the Xbox controller again.
- Select the Bluetooth option and wait for the pairing to happen again.
Note: press and hold the pair button on the Xbox controller for 3 seconds or until it starts flashing.
- Once the controller is paired again, check if the Xbox controller is working properly.
#5 Update Software
Depending on which games or gaming platform you use, the Xbox controller not working problem can be caused by software.
If you are using steam, for example, your Xbox controller would normally work properly if it is recognized by Windows 11. If Windows shows the controller, but it is not working in steam games, additional steps can help.
- Restart Steam – Use the Windows 11 Task Manager to locate the Steam Client Service process. Right-click Steam Client Service (32-bit) (1) and in the popup menu, select End Task (2).
If there are more Steam processes, use the same steps to terminate them.
Next, restart Steam by selecting it from the Start menu.
- Run Steam games with Admin rights or in compatibility mode – In some cases, running the game with administrator-level access rights can help solve issues with steam games. Simply right-click the game in Steam and select Manage and then Browse local files.
Now you can right-click the game’s EXE file and select Properties in the popup menu.
Select the Compatibility tab and then use the Compatibility mode (1) option to run the game in a different Windows mode, or use the Run this program as an administrator (2) to give it extra execution privileges.
- Update Steam – Make sure you have the latest version of Steam installed.
- Reinstall Steam – The last option is to completely uninstall Steam and reinstall it. First, make sure your Xbox controller is working in Windows 11 before reinstalling the Steam software.
Note: if the app is installed and an update is available, it will show an Update button to click.
#6 Update Firmware
Although firmware is also software, this is mentioned separately. The Xbox controller firmware, if outdated, can be a reason the Xbox controller does not work with Windows 11. Updating the Xbox controller firmware will ensure all known issues in the controller are resolved.
To update the firmware the controller needs to be recognized by Windows 11. So first use the steps above to make sure the device is recognized. Then simply follow the Microsoft instructions to update the Xbox controller software.
Note: in rare cases, a firmware downgrade is needed to fix issues with the Xbox controller. For this, an Xbox console is required.