We recently showed you how to use your PS4 controller with your Mac to play both new and classic games in OS X, but what about Microsoft fans? The good news is that you can also use an Xbox One controller with a Mac. The (somewhat) bad news is that, unlike the plug-and-play and wireless nature of the PS4 controller, the Xbox Controller requires some third party drivers and configuration to work in OS X, and will only work while connected via a USB cable.
There are several unofficial projects that aim to provide Xbox One controller support for the Mac, but the one we recommend is the Xone-OSX project by Drew Mills (a.k.a. FranticRain). To use it, first disconnect your Xbox One controller from your Mac if necessary (if you had tried to just plug it in without any drivers, you’d notice that it doesn’t do anything, even though the controller is recognized in System Profiler).
Next, head over to the Xone-OSX project page at GitHub. If you’d like to check out the source code and compile the installer yourself, you’ll find all you need at the project’s main page. For users who would rather not bother with source code, you can find a pre-compiled version ready to go at the Xone-OSX release page.
Download and run the installer package and follow the on-screen prompts. You’ll need to reboot your Mac after the installation is complete, so make sure to save your work and close any open apps. Once your Mac reboots, connect your Xbox One controller using a Micro-USB to Type A USB cable and you’ll see the controller’s Xbox light turn on if the driver installation was successful.
To configure your Xbox One controller for use with your Mac, head to System Preferences, where you’ll find a new “Xone Controller” preference pane. With your Xbox One controller plugged in, you’ll be able to test buttons and inputs, adjust deadzones for calibration, and optionally invert the control scheme for the left or right analog sticks. Unfortunately, you can’t use the Xbox One controller wirelessly, as Microsoft uses a proprietary wireless technology for the Xbox One, compared to Sony, which uses standard Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.
We’ve been testing the Xone-OSX driver for a few days and are happy to report that everything works great in apps like OpenEmu and modern OS X games. Controller support isn’t as broad in OS X as it is in Windows, but Xone-OSX makes the the Xbox One controller look like an Xbox 360 controller to most applications, ensuring maximum compatibility for the relatively limited number of games that support third party controllers. As with the PS4 controller, just make sure you go into each app’s settings or preferences and select the Xbox One controller prior to starting the game (it appears as “Microsoft Official Wired” in OpenEmu, for example).
If you have trouble with Xone-OSX, another Xbox One controller for Mac project is Xbox One Controller Enabler, also hosted at GitHub. This project doesn’t offer the same graphical System Preferences interface, and it isn’t updated as frequently as Xone-OSX, but some users report success with this project in games that Xone-OSX missed in the past.
A final note: those who want to enjoy marathon gaming sessions with their Xbox One controller and their Mac should plan to keep a few extra AA batteries on hand. Even though the controller plugs into the Mac via USB, that connection is only for data. The controller is still powered by batteries, and won’t charge via the standard USB cable unless you also pick up the Play & Charge Kit accessory.
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