Use An Xbox 360 Controller On Your Mac [OS X Tips]


Xbox 360 Controllers Mac OS X

After we reported on Steam’s new Big Picture beta coming to the Mac, we got a reader question that I figured it’d be good to write a tip on.

Playing games on your Mac is great fun of course, and all of them use the keyboard and/or mouse to control the games being played. However, with AirPlay mirroring, HDMI cable support, and a bunch of new games showing up for the Mac platform along their Windows brethren, there are times when a console style controller is a better alternative. Being able to sit on the couch and play our favorite Mac games has a lot to recommend it, and using an Xbox controller is fairly easy to set up.

Here’s how.

First of all, you’ll need an Xbox controller, wired or wireless with the Microsoft wireless adapter. I used a wired controller, but you should be able to get a wireless controller (with the wireless receiver you can get on Amazon for about $20) to work just as well.

Secondly, head over to TattieBogle, and download the driver for OS X there. This driver will let your Mac talk to the Xbox 360 controller, and vice versa. Once downloaded, mount the disk image with a double click on the .dmg file and then double click on the .pkg file that’s on it. Follow the prompts, just like any other OS X installer, to install the driver software. You won’t need to restart.

Now, plug in the Xbox 360 wired controller. The green lights around the middle Xbox button will light up, but then will go dark. Unlike when connected to an actual Xbox 360, the controller will not light up when connected to your Mac. Now, pull up System Preferences, either from the Apple Menu or from within your Applications folder. There should be an Xbox 360 Controllers preference icon in the lower right, now. Click on that, and you’ll see a control panel like the screenshot above. Pressing the buttons will darken them on the control panel, so you can see that the controller is working.

Now, launch Steam, or other controller-enabled game, on your Mac, and get to gaming! You can send your Mac screen to your Apple TV or use an HDMI cable to get it up on your HDTV. I recommend the cable, as Airplay can have a little bit of lag between a button press and the effect, depending on your router’s wi-fi signal.

  • Paul Herron

    A PS3 controller will work straight out of the box using bluetooth.

  • Jonathan Ober

    my xbox 360 controller isnt working. Lights up for a second but doesn’t work with the plugin :(

  • roblef

    my xbox 360 controller isnt working. Lights up for a second but doesn’t work with the plugin :(

    Are you able to see the control panel like the screenshot above? And is it a wired or wireless controller?

  • roblef

    A PS3 controller will work straight out of the box using bluetooth.

    Yes, and no. I’ll have a tip on this later this week, but not all PS3 controllers are created equal. :)

  • Guest

    Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to get the adapter, I don’t need another controller lying around.

  • BojidarNikolov

    OK, so I followed the instructions as stated above and yet whenever I want to play L4D2 all i can do with the controller is pan around using LS. I tried reinstalling, restarting, even different times when I plug the controller in and nothing worked, any idea? I am using Mountain Lion.

  • mstashev

    How would one get this to work with Call Of Duty that is sold in the App Store? Not Call of Duty 4, just Call Of Duty?

  • Bryon Cole

    Installed on my macbook pro retina (10.8.2) My wired xbox Controller lights up for a second after plugging in to usb port. Go to system Pref and check the xbox controller preferences, no device found. :(
    Possibly a mountain lion issue?

  • adamkayce

    I had a moment’s trouble getting my wireless controller to connect with this setup, until I hit the reset button on the receiver and the xbox controller at the same time. When I looked back and the preference pane, it had recognized the device, and I was good to go. Success! (I’m on OSX 10.8.2, btw.)

  • lapsang

    For some reason I am unable to install the driver. Every time I try, I get a message telling me ‘An unknown installation error occurred’. Has anyone else encountered this? Any suggestions? This is so frustrating!

  • Luis Brambila

    Is a Microsoft wireless receiver needed in order to connect an Xbox 360 WIRED controller? If so, does the Microsoft wireless receiver function with apple operating systems like it does with Windows?

  • DonutNikki098

    I followed all the instructions clearly and did exactly what said. I opened up the system preferences and clicked on Xbox 360 controller and it said no devices found. Please help :(