How to Connect Xbox 360 Controller to PC Without Receiver?

Lindsay Hayes

If you have a Wireless Xbox 360 controller and want to connect it to a Windows PC, you have to have a wireless Xbox adapter for your PC. It's impossible to connect a wireless controller for the Microsoft Xbox 360 to your PC with any other method. If you want to use an Xbox 360 controller with your computer, you will need to plug the wired version into a USB port.

Gaming is a huge pastime for many people, whether it is with a video game console or a Windows PC. My friend is one of these people, and he has an old Microsoft Xbox 360 at home, with a wireless controller. He asked me whether it was possible to connect his Xbox controller to his computer without a receiver, so I told him what he needed to know.

If you've been trying to figure out how to connect Xbox 360 controller to PC without receiver, then you're in the right place for all the answers you need. Let's dive right into it.


Can I Use a Wireless Xbox Controller without the PC Wireless Gaming Receiver?

The Microsoft Xbox 360 came with two main types of controllers. You could either get a wireless controller or a wired Xbox controller.

If you have a wireless controller, you'll notice that it doesn't need a dongle to plug into the console. It pairs with the necessary hardware in the system.

This is why Microsoft designed the Xbox 360 wireless receiver for PC. This is an accessory that provides the hardware to allow you to connect Xbox 360 controller to your computer and use it to game.

However, you must be wondering whether there's any way to connect Xbox controller to your Windows PC without needing to buy this extra accessory.

Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Even if you have the Xbox 360 Play & Charge kit, which equips your battery with a USB cable to charge it simultaneously, it can't be used to game even if you connect it to a Windows PC. This is because the USB cable only supports power and has no support for data transmission.

Red and White Color Wireless Xbox Controllers

Can I Plug a Wired Xbox 360 Controller Into a PC USB Port?

Unfortunately, you can't use a wireless Microsoft Xbox 360 controller with your computer, whether wired or wireless unless you get the Xbox adapter for your PC.

However, can you connect to a Windows PC with wired Xbox controllers?

Actually, yes!

If you have a wired controller for the Xbox 360, you can use it with your computer without much hassle. This is because even on a Microsoft Xbox 360, the controller plugs in using a USB port.

To get your Xbox 360 controller to work with your Windows PC, plug it into a USB port. Make sure the port is at least a USB 2.0 port.

Once you do this, the operating system should automatically install the drivers for the Xbox controller, and that's it.

You can now launch any of your PC games and you should be able to use your Xbox 360 controller right away.

How Do I Get the Wireless Adapter to Work on a Windows PC?

If you have a wireless controller for your Xbox 360 and you've decided to use it with your Windows PC, the first thing you're going to need is the Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver.

These days, the hardest part of this process is getting this actual Xbox 360 wireless receiver. Microsoft has a first-party Xbox adapter, but since it's been a long time since the Xbox 360 was active, it might be hard to find. Most people resort to using a third-party Xbox receiver.

Regardless, in case you've been lucky enough to get an official Xbox 360 wireless receiver, the steps below will show you how to set it up and get it working with your Xbox 360 controller.

  1. Plug the USB end of the Xbox receiver into one of your computer's USB ports. It needs to be at least USB 2.0. You should see a green light glow on the receiver.
  2. Your operating system may then automatically launch the "Add New Hardware Wizard". If it does, press "Install the software automatically (Recommended)", click "Next". Let it install, and press "Finish".
  3. However, if Windows doesn't automatically install the software or it fails, you will need to install it manually. The Xbox 360 wireless receiver comes with a manual and driver disk. Put that disc into your computer's optical drive.
  4. Run the setup if it doesn't automatically do so.
  5. Follow the steps outlined in the setup program until the installation process is complete.
  6. Restart your computer.
  7. Once this is done, all that's left is to connect Xbox 360 controller to your computer. Hold down the "Guide" button, which is the Xbox logo in the center of the controller, to turn it on. Let go once the lights turn on.
  8. Now, press the Connect button on the Xbox 360 wireless receiver. It's the button in the center of the device.
  9. Finally, press the Connect button on the Xbox controller. It's a small button located at the top of the controller, on the part between LB and RB.
  10. The lights on the controller and Xbox receiver will continue to flash until they pair. At this point, they will glow solid, and that's it. You can use the Xbox controller with your PC.

Once you have the Xbox 360 wireless receiver set up and ready, you can now connect up to 4 Xbox controllers to the computer.

White Xbox Controller on the Wooden Surface

How to Get a Third-Party Wireless Adapter Working?

Since it's hard to find the official Microsoft Xbox 360 wireless receiver these days, many people resort to using third-party options. These are much easier to find and most of them work just as well.

However, if you use an Xbox receiver made by another company, the steps to follow to get it installed are completely different and a lot more complicated. You'll need to use Device Manager to install the device drivers.

The good thing is that if you follow these steps properly, you'll be able to manage this procedure properly.

You can get a third-party Xbox receiver from Amazon, such as this one by QUMOX.

No matter the Xbox receiver you have, the steps are the same as below:

  1. Plug the Xbox receiver into your computer's USB port.
  2. You'll see the light on the device turn on, but you still need to do more to make it functional.
  3. Right-click on the Start button at the bottom-left corner of your screen.
  4. Click "Device Manager".
  5. Once Device Manager is open, scroll to the bottom until you find the item called "Unknown Device". Right-click on it.
  6. Click "Update driver". This will bring up a new window.
  7. Choose "Browse my computer for driver software".
  8. Now, click on "Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer".
  9. You'll see a list of several different kinds of devices. Scroll down and double-click "Xbox 360 Peripherals".
  10. Now, click the "Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver for Windows" option.
  11. Press "Next".
  12. This will bring up a window warning you that the gadget driver you're installing may potentially cause issues if it fails, but don't worry. Just proceed.
  13. Restart the computer immediately.

Once the computer has come back on, you can connect your Microsoft Xbox 360 controller as you would with the first-party receiver. Here's how:

  1. Hold down the Guide button (the one that looks like the Xbox 360 logo) until it starts flashing.
  2. Press the Connect button in the middle of the wireless gaming receiver. The light should start flashing.
  3. Press the Connect on the top edge of your Xbox 360 controller. This light should begin to flash too.
  4. After some seconds, both lights should stop flashing and glow solid. This means that you have been able to successfully connect your Xbox 360 controller wirelessly.

One tip to follow after this whole process is to keep the receiver plugged into the same USB port. If you change it, you may need to go through the process all over again.

Also keep in mind that just like with the first-party model, you can connect as many as 4 game controllers.

How Can I Tell If My Wireless Receiver Is Authentic?

If you're about to buy the Xbox 360 wireless receiver for your PC, you might want to make sure that the item you're looking at is genuine.

There are only two major things to look out for when holding the receiver.

First of all, the side with the button should have "Microsoft" written at the top. You'll find that many of the imitation models have "Xbox 360" written there instead.

Secondly, flip the device over and look at the text written along its length. If it's real, it should say "Microsoft® Xbox 360™ Wireless Receiver for Windows®". Similarly, with the fake options, you'll find that it says something else, like "PC Wireless Gaming Receiver".

By keeping these tips in mind, you can ensure that you get an OEM wireless adapter. Just know that there will always be tough to track down.

Wireless Xbox Controller

How to Confirm the Functionality of My Xbox Controller?

If you want to make sure that your Xbox controller is working perfectly after you connect it, you can always just open a PC game to check.

However, I'd recommend using the utility built into Windows instead, as this lets you verify all aspects of the controller and make sure it's working flawlessly.

Here's how:

  1. Open the Start menu or click the search bar.
  2. Type in "Set up USB game controllers" and open it.
  3. This will bring up a window showing the controllers currently connected to your PC. Click your option on the list.
  4. Press "Properties".
  5. Click the "Test" tab.
  6. Now, you will be able to press the various buttons, move the thumbstick, and confirm that your controller is fully functional.

What Alternatives Do I Have to Buying a Wireless Adapter?

The original Microsoft Xbox package for the Xbox 360 controller came with the wireless receiver bundled. Unfortunately, it's hard to find this Microsoft Xbox package for sale these days, and even if you do, you probably already have an Xbox 360 controller.

So, if you don't want to buy the wireless receiver, what options do you have if you still want to use a controller to play games on your PC?

Well, you can opt for a wired Xbox 360 controller. These are still relatively easy to find and you can purchase one on Amazon.

Here's the thing though, unless you have very specific reasons to go for an Xbox 360 controller, I'd recommend adding a few bucks and getting yourself an Xbox One controller instead.

First off, the Xbox One controller is newer, so you're less likely to run into issues trying to get it to work or when trying to connect the controller to PC.

While there's a wireless adapter available for the Xbox One controller, if you get any of the newer ones, you won't need this if you want to play wirelessly. It has built-in Bluetooth, which means you can connect to pretty much any computer (and even your smartphone).

Finally, with the Xbox One controller, you can use it either wired or wireless, which isn't an option if you have an Xbox 360 controller.

You can buy an Xbox One controller on Amazon. They're available in an array of different colors too.

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Final Words

If you have a wireless Xbox 360 controller and you're hoping to connect the controller to PC without the wireless receiver, this is not possible. If you want to use it, you'll have to get the adapter, whether it's the official one or a third-party model. However, if you have the wired model, you can plug it right in.

If you're looking for an alternative, I'd recommend that you get yourself an Xbox One controller instead. Since these are newer, you'll run into fewer problems. More importantly, you can connect them with a cable, using the Bluetooth option, or by buying the official wireless receiver.

We hope this article answered all your questions about connecting your 360 controller to PC without the wireless adapter. Take a look at our related articles to learn more.

Lindsay Hayes

Hi, I’m Lindsay, a techie from Kansas City. That’s right; I’m a born and bred Midwesterner. I learned to take electronics apart at my dad’s GameStop way back when, and I haven’t stopped since. I spend most of my time checking out new gadgets.
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