Can You Use An Xbox Controller On Nintendo Switch?

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Though the Xbox controllers are sold first and foremost for Microsoft's gaming console, they're not limited to that device — for example, they can be used via Bluetooth or a USB-C cable to play games on PC and mobile devices, too. Because the Nintendo Switch uses Bluetooth to connect to its official controllers and it also includes a USB-C port for both charging and data transfers, it's reasonable to wonder whether you can use an ordinary Xbox controller with the tiny console.

Regardless of the reason why you want to mix and match gaming hardware in this way, the short answer is yes, you can use an Xbox controller on the Nintendo Switch. The bad news is that it's not as simple as connecting it to your Switch dock's USB port. You will need to purchase an adapter or dongle. But there is a way for those willing to explore this avenue: the prerequisite device is cheap, and the setup process is usually pretty easy.

What you need to use an Xbox controller on the Nintendo Switch

There are several different adapters available on the market, but they all work in similar ways. The adapter connects to your Nintendo Switch via USB, and then you connect your Xbox controller to the adapter using the controller's built-in Bluetooth radio.

We'd recommend 8Bitdo's wireless USB Adapter 2. It retails for just $20 at Amazon, and in addition to enabling a solid link between your Xbox controller and Switch, you'll find that it works with a great variety of other controllers (including PS4 DualShock and PS5's DualSense) and systems (Steam Deck, Windows PCs, and more). It's wonderfully versatile, and judging by scores of user reviews, it's also pretty reliable. If you're unfamiliar with the 8Bitdo brand, this company built its reputation by offering wireless retro-style alternative controllers primarily for Nintendo Switch and PC players, so know that you're getting a solid product backed by a company with a proven track record in customer service.

Of course, you'll also need an Xbox controller that uses Bluetooth. All official Xbox Series X|S wireless controllers have Bluetooth inside, and newer controllers designed for the Xbox One era also house the necessary hardware. For the latter, you can tell whether your model has Bluetooth by checking the concave area where the Xbox button is. If the plastic in that area is contiguous with the rest of the face plate, it has Bluetooth.

How to connect your Xbox controller to the Nintendo Switch

Setting up the 8Bitdo USB Adapter 2 is relatively simple, though there are a couple of legs to this process. First, make sure your Switch is updated to version 3.0.0 or higher.

  1. Navigate to System Settings > Controller and Sensors.

  2. Toggle on the "Pro Controller Wired Communication" option

  3. Plug the adapter into the Switch's dock; or, connect it to the Switch's USB-C port (USB-A to USB-C dongle required).

  4. Power the controller on, then press and hold the small "connect" button on the top of the Xbox controller to put it into pairing mode (you'll know it's in pairing mode when you see the Xbox button blinking rapidly).

  5. Press the "pair" button on the adapter until you start to see its LED blinking.

  6. Wait a few seconds. If you see that the lights on the adapter and controller have gone solid, you should now have a connection between the controller and the Switch.

Once the controller is connected, you can use it to play any game that supports controllers on the Switch. To do so, simply select the controller from the list of available controllers in the game's settings menu. You may also need to adjust the button mapping in the settings menu to make sure that the buttons on the Xbox controller correspond to the correct actions in the game.

Why you may want to use an Xbox controller with the Nintendo Switch

Nintendo offers the Pro Controller for gamers who aren't interested in using the smaller Joy-Cons individually or when attached to the Comfort Grip. The Pro Controller provides a more traditional gaming experience and it arguably feels far more sturdy and durable than the Joy-Cons. With that said, Nintendo charges $69.99 for its official Pro Controller, which some consumers may consider a steep price — particularly if they're only going to use the controller occasionally.

Though cheaper (typically unlicensed) third-party options are available, they may lack the rumble feature found on the Pro Controller — and even if you don't mind that, the build quality is likely considerably lower. These factors make the Xbox controller a far more appealing option, as it won't cost you anything extra if you already own one (the cost of the adapter aside) and the build quality is on par with that of the Pro Controller. If you regularly use the Xbox controller, it may also feel more familiar and comfortable in your hands versus the Joy-Cons or Pro Controller.

The joysticks used on the Switch are notoriously prone to drifting, which can render games unplayable in severe cases. The Xbox controller makes a great substitution if you've encountered this problem, as you don't even need to bother repairing the Joy-Cons or buying new ones if you don't mind solely using Microsoft's peripheral with the Switch going forward. 

Downsides to using the Xbox controller on Nintendo Switch

It's worth noting that some of the Xbox controller's functions do not work on Switch, nor are many of the Switch's unique features supported by the controller. Specifically, it lacks support for rumble, NFC, analog triggers, trigger vibration, the audio jack, IR input, and the LED doesn't correlate to any Switch functions, including player indicators. You also can't wake the Switch up from sleep using the controller.

You'll also want to keep in mind that Xbox controllers swap the positions of several face buttons in relation to Switch controllers, so the labels won't match up perfectly. For instance, the positioning of the "A" and "B" buttons on the Xbox controller correspond to "B" and "A" on the Switch controller, respectively. The same is true for the "X" and "Y" buttons. Otherwise, the Switch's controller scheme perfectly matches the Xbox controller's available buttons and triggers.

None of this is the fault of the 8Bitdo adapter. These limitations are simply the byproduct of marrying two devices that were not designed to work together. If that's a dealbreaker, then your best bet is to buy an officially licensed Nintendo Switch controller. The best alternative for Xbox fans is Nintendo's official Pro Controller.