How to hook up an Xbox 360 controller to your Mac

I like playing games on my Mac, but as a console gamer at heart, I much prefer the joypad to the keyboard and mouse. In particular, racing games like Dirt 2 -- recently acquired as part of the awesome Feral bundle -- just don't feel right to me controlling them with a keyboard. Not to mention the immense discomfort I'm feeling after a session. The solution; hooking up a controller. And, since the Xbox 360 controller is common, not that expensive, and easy to connect, that's the route I went. So, lets show you how you can do it too.

I'm using a wired Xbox 360 controller, but you can use a wireless one but you'll need to purchase a receiver to plug into your Mac. Since the wired controller has a standard USB port on the end, it seemed like the easiest option. To make it work, you're going to need to pick up a driver. The one we want is the Tattiebogle driver. Download the latest disk image, open it up and go through the install process. Once completed, your Mac will require a restart.

When you're back up and running, opening up the System Preferences pane, you'll see a new option under Other named "Xbox 360 Controllers." This is where you check that the controller is working, and can set it up to your liking by inverting the axis on the analog sticks on the controller. For some games, this is all you'll need to do. Dirt 2, for example, has gamepad support built in and so the controller works perfectly with it once you select it as the preferred control method for the game.

For the times your controller isn't supported out of the box, something like Joystick Mapper or Gamepad Companion could be your salvation. Available to download via the Mac App Store, Joystick Mapper sells for $4.99 and Gamepad Companion is $7.99. Their purpose is to configure your controller to act as a keyboard and mouse, with you getting the chance to dictate which buttons map to which keyboard presses.

  • Joystick Mapper - $4.99
  • Gamepad Companion - $7.99

That's about all she wrote. From here on out you should be good to go with your Xbox 360 controller and your Mac games. If you've hooked up a game controller to your Mac, let us know what it is, how you did it and why you like it in the comments below!

Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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There are 23 comments. Add yours.

Muero says:

You might want to include the fact that wireless controllers, even when connected via USB cord, will not work without the wireless receiver. This shocked me, as I assumed any USB connection would work the same, but apparently the wireless controller's USB connection is for power only, and still only communicates wirelessly.

Rancid88 says:

Get a Windows Box if your Gonna Game, Nothing comes close

Richard Devine says:

I actually have a PS3 for that instead ;-) That doesn't travel with me though, and I'm always partial to picking up a game that's on sale! That said, I'm actually pretty impressed with how well the rMBP 13" handles itself

bingeboy says:

So youre saying run bootcamp?

Solublepeter says:

I did it for the first time literally 30 minutes before reading this article- spurred on by the Feral bundle and Dirt 2.

Great minds :)

mad_iphone4 says:

Would a PS3 controller be easier to use due to Bluetooth? Just pair it?

williamsbh76 says:

I'd be interested to know that too! I've got plenty of ps3 controllers laying around but no Xbox.

Jack Gutteridge says:

I've done this before, works perfectly! That's why IMO Xbox loose out for this purpose

Craig Cooper2 says:

Hi, I need help. My son wanted me to connect his xbox wired controller to our Mac.
I have downloaded the driver from TattieBogle and installed it but when I go to system preferences and open the controller icon I get the message "no device found".
Our Mac is running OS X 10.7.5.
What is going wrong?

Kai_Rah_Sun says:

i have the same problem.my controller is green and on.i go int the drive and isee it notices it but my computer doesnt show it.its 100 percent microsoft and i have no idea why its doing this?

Axel Kerkhofs says:

Update your mac to OS X Mavericks
It's free and it fixed the same problem !

ThiasLight says:

I"m running mavericks, it still isn't working.

onlyduh says:

I tried this on my Macbook 2008 with 10.6.8 and on my Macbook L2009 with mavericks and the driver did not recognize the Gamestop Xbox 360 controller. The macs both see the device, but the driver does not.... help.

Spudboy2014 says:

Did you ever get it to work?

Joegamer says:

Another gamer brought up a valid point that shouldn't be overlooked. Even wired Xbox 360 controllers need be connected to wireless receivers in order to function. Connecting a USB Xbox 360 power cable into your mac will only provide power. I have yet to see a method connecting a 'wired controller (power cable)' without a wireless receiver. Like another post already mentioned, the wireless controller's USB connection is for power only, while the controller still only communicates wirelessly. Bottom line… ___A Xbox 360 wireless receiver is needed regardless, in order to connect.___

Bryan Rengel says:

So what is a good wireless receiver for this? I've been looking on amazon but all of them say "for PC." Will those still work on Mac or is there one from the apple store I need to order or what?

Mike mcwhirter says:

Not true. You need either a Microsoft WIRED controller (which I have and use) or a MS wireless controller and a MS wireless receiver.

No third party controllers work so far. The Charge & Play USB cable DOES NOT work.

But I use both my Xbox 360 controller and a PS3 controller for games.

Tom Ortlieb says:

I had no problems installing the driver, but now it causes my macbook pro to restart - any idea why this is? I have the most current version.

Russell Shaw says:

Just installed and it worked with my 2 Steam games Portal and Portal2 and my wireless receiver. Had to hit the hidden button on back of controller to get it to advertise the first time.
Does anyone know what the 'Linked' option does ?

Lainey66 says:

Hi, I have purchased and downloaded two games from Feral, Dirt 2 and Rayman. They both work using the directional keys but I prefer to use a controller. I have been out today and purchased an xbox 360 afterglow wired controller, I downloaded the xbox 360 driver from tattiebogle, Gampad companion, and Joystick Mapper, none of these have recognised that the controller in plugged into my USB port and states No Device Found.... Please Help... this is becoming very frustrating. What else do I need to do?

Spudboy2014 says:

I'm under the impression that the driver will not work with anything other than made by Microsoft hardware.

Spudboy2014 says:

The directions here never mention pressing the small button on the Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Receiver and the small button on the Xbox controller to get the devices to talk to each other. Wasted many hours trouble shooting this with tech support because no one who writes about this topic mentions it.

My wireless Xbox controller works great on my iMac now.

EWilde says:

MacBook Pro running 10.7.5. Bought new Microsoft Xbox Controller bundled with receiver. Installed the TattieBogle driver. Restarted. Plugged in the the receiver (no light on). Turned on the controller. Controller shows solid blinking circle. Pressed and held button on receiver a few secs til blinking. Pressed little button on back of controller until circle is spinning.

As soon as they're on together they both stop but don't sync. Receiver stops blinking, controller goes back to solid blinking circle. I've reinstalled the driver a few times. Tried starting receiver searching first, controller searching first. But they won't sync. Xbox 360 Controllers SysPref pane hasn't registered anything other than No Devices Found.

Suggestions? Muchas gracias!