How to fix an Xbox One controller that won't sync: Why is my Xbox One controller flashing and not connecting?

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If your Xbox One controller is struggling to connect and flashing at you in confusion, you've come to the right place.

Yep, the advent of wireless controllers has been something of a godsend for seasoned gamers, but that doesn't mean they’re not without their faults – that all-important wireless connection can sometimes cut out. It’s annoying at the best of times, but especially in the middle of a game.

If your Xbox One controller suddenly becomes unresponsive, it’s usually a quick and easy fix to get it back up and running. And, even in the worst-case scenario, you can go old-school and connect it to your console with a micro USB cable.

With that in mind, let's have a look at some of the reasons why your controller might drop out of sync with your Xbox, and what you can do to fix it.

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Troubleshooting your wireless connection

When your Xbox One controller loses sync, the light on the front will start to flash. You’ll suddenly be unable to control games or menus, and a ‘Please reconnect the controller’ message will display on the screen.

There could be a number of reasons why this happens, including too much interference, weak batteries, sync issues and hardware failures. There are some basic first steps you can take to determine the root of the problem, and many of them will fix it straight away. These include:

  • Check your controller is in range – the maximum range between console and controller is 19 feet, but this reduces if there are objects in between the two. Try sitting closer or moving obstacles.
  • Check the controller’s batteries and try replacing them if necessary.
  • Check to see if your controller switched off because of inactivity – press the central Xbox button to revive it (the controller automatically shuts down after being left for 15 minutes). 
  • Make sure your controller isn’t already synced to another Xbox or other device, such as a laptop or Apple TV.
  • Switch off sources of wireless interference if possible. Other electronic appliances could be interfering with the signal, such as a microwave (this is pretty unlikely, mind).
  • Try disconnecting your headset temporarily – sometimes a headset or microphone can interrupt your controller’s wireless connection.
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How to resync your Xbox One controller

If these steps don’t immediately solve the problem, or the broken connection is simply a fluke occurrence, simply resync the controller. You can do that by following these steps:

  • Make sure your Xbox One and your controller are switched on.
  • Press the small round sync button on your console (on the original Xbox One, you'll find it on the left side of the console, near the disc tray; on the One S and X, it’s on the bottom right corner of the front, underneath the power button).
  • Press and hold the sync button on your controller (found between the left and right shoulder buttons). Release the button once the controller light stops flashing.
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If you’re still having problems, it’s worth checking that the controller’s firmware doesn’t need updating before sending it off for repair or buying a new one. To do this, connect the controller to your console with a micro USB cable and follow these steps:

  • Open the ‘Settings’ menu.
  • Navigate to ‘Kinect & devices’, then ‘Devices & accessories’.
  • Select the controller you're having trouble with – if an option to update it appears, follow the instructions.
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READ MORE: How to transfer games from an old Xbox One to a new one