How To Update Your Xbox Wireless Controller Firmware

When you think about your Xbox controller, the software powering it is probably one of the last things that comes to mind. Even if you judiciously update the console itself, you may forget the controller also needs its firmware kept current. Keeping the code that makes your controller run up to date is pretty important. Firmware updates don't come out often, but when they do, they tend to contain important compatibility updates and bug fixes. 

If you're having controller trouble, the device's firmware should be one of the first places you look. As new features are rolled out in games or on the console itself, the controller's firmware will probably change in response. Browsing at the controller section of the accessories menu is an easy way to see if everything is up to date. If you're due an update or two, it will let you know. If your controller is as updated as it needs to be, you'll also see a clear indication that you don't have to do anything. Ideally, you'd check for firmware updates once a week. Each controller you own and use needs to be updated individually, so be prepared to do this a few times. Here are three methods you can use to keep your Xbox controller's firmware up to date.

Updating your controller wirelessly

Updating your controller wirelessly is the easiest way to do it. Every Xbox controller, aside from the original version of the wireless controller, is capable of updating wirelessly. You should make sure your controller's batteries are fresh, or it has a full charge, before attempting to update the firmware. 

  1. To check for and install a firmware update, you need to get to the controller section of the accessories menu.
  2. Press the Xbox button on the controller, select Profile & system > Settings > Devices & connections > Accessories > then select the specific controller.
  3. Select the three dots (...) and it should tell you what firmware version your controller is on, and if a new version of the firmware is available an "update" button should be displayed. 
  4. If you see the button, select it, and your controller should then update.

You can also update your controller's stereo headset while updating wirelessly. To update the headset, plug it in while the console is turned on and before you've started the firmware update. Plugging it in with the console off, or after the update has started, may stop the auto detect feature from functioning and lead to your headset not updating.

Updating your controller with a wired connection

If you're concerned about your controller's battery dying, have an original Xbox wireless controller, or just don't like the idea of wireless updates, good news! You can update the controller via a wired connection. To update via a wire, you need to find a wire that can connect to both your console and the controller itself. One can come included with the controller, but any compatible cable will work. The console itself has USB type A ports on it, so one end of the cable will need to be USB-A. The other end depends on your controller. Older controllers use micro USB, while newer ones use USB-C. Once you have your cable, plug the USB-A end into your console in the port close to the pairing button (left of the button on a Series S, right on a series X). From there, an update prompt should appear automatically. Follow the on screen instructions to update. If the prompt doesn't appear, follow the same path as you would if you were updating wirelessly, as laid out in the previous section.

As with the wireless update, a stereo headset can be plugged into the 3.5mm jack on the headset if the jack is present. If a firmware update is available for the headset, and one is detected, then the headset's firmware will be updated at the same time. Just make sure the headset is connected after the console is powered on, but before the controller's firmware update starts.

You can also update the controller with a PC

If you don't have an Xbox, but like to use the controllers when gaming on other devices like a PC, laptop, or tablet, you can still keep your firmware up to date. Installing a controller firmware update with a PC or tablet is fairly straightforward. The updates can only be performed via the Xbox Accessories app, and that only works on Windows 10 or 11. So Linux fans and Mac users may have an easier time borrowing a friend's PC or Xbox when they want to update. The app is free and available from the Microsoft store, so the first step is to get that installed. Once the Xbox Accessories app is installed, open it up and then it's time to grab your controller.

  1. Connect the controller. PC users can't update their controllers over Bluetooth, so a wired USB connection or use of the Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows is required. 
  2. Once your controller is connected, you should get a popup if a mandatory update is available. 
  3. Follow the onscreen instructions to update your controller.

If you use the controller on the console, but find updating it on the PC is easier, you can use this method instead of updating it on the console.