How to Use an Xbox One Controller on NVIDIA Shield

Last Updated on September 6, 2023 by Tim Wells

There’s an obvious similarity when you put the NVIDIA Shield and Xbox One controllers side-by-side.

Still, whether it’s the sturdier feel or slightly better ergonomics, many people want to connect their Xbox One controller to their NVIDIA Shield TV.

It’s a pretty easy process. You’ll lose some of the extra features that Microsoft builds in, but all of the basic functionality is there.

In this article, I will walk you through connecting an Xbox One controller to the Shield TV. Then I’ll discuss some more common issues you can run into.

But first, let’s get a brief overview of what Xbox controllers will work with the Shield TV.

What Xbox Controllers Work with NVIDIA Shield?

Microsoft has released several different Xbox controllers over the years, and not all will work with the NVIDIA Shield TV.

Here are some common Xbox controllers and what you can expect when pairing them with an NVIDIA Shield.

Xbox One Controllers

Between 2013 and 2020, there have been three generations of Xbox One controllers, with many variations. You can find a list of them on the Xbox Fandom wiki page, along with pictures of each.

First Generation controllers

The first generation Xbox One controllers were built from 2013 through late 2015. They don’t have a built-in headphone jack or Bluetooth.

Because there’s no Bluetooth, you won’t be able to follow the guide in the next section.

Microsoft does make a wireless USB receiver specifically for Xbox One controllers. However, it was only designed to work with Windows 10, and users have had very little luck getting it to work on the NVIDIA Shield TV.

Second Generation controllers

Second-generation Xbox One controllers were built from late 2015 through late 2016. This includes the first generation of the Xbox One Elite Controller.

The buttons were improved slightly, and a headphone jack was added. Unfortunately, second-generation controllers still lack Bluetooth, so connecting them to the NVIDIA Shield is not recommended.

Third Generation controllers

Third-generation Xbox One controllers were released with the launch of the Xbox One S. They (finally) included Bluetooth support, which makes pairing them to the Shield TV quick and easy.

If you have a first or second-generation Xbox controller and want to connect to your Shield TV, replace it with one of the third-generation controllers.

They’re about $20 more than you would pay for a wireless adapter, but they’re MUCH easier to connect.

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Xbox 360 Controllers

Xbox 360 controllers can connect to the NVIDIA Shield as well.

That goes for the wired Xbox 360 controller and a wireless controller using the official Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Adapter. Update: The Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Adapter is discontinued and you may have difficulty finding it.

You are going to want to spring for the official Microsoft adapter. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from people who tried to use a generic adapter and couldn’t get it to connect.

The button mappings on both controllers are good. Still, you’ll lose out on special functions on the Shield controller, like the microphone.

How to Connect an Xbox One Controller to NVIDIA Shield

As I mentioned earlier, connecting a compatible Xbox One controller to the NVIDIA Shield TV is straightforward.

I’m using my Shield TV Pro and the new Microsoft Carbon Black Xbox One controller (model QAT-00001) in this example.

Step 1: Go to the Settings menu on your NVIDIA Shield. You can find this by clicking the gear-shaped icon in the upper right-hand corner of your home screen.

Step 2: Scroll down until you see the Remotes & Accessories menu and click on it.

Step 3: Click on Add Bluetooth accessories.

You should see a full-screen message telling you that the NVIDIA Shield TV is searching for Bluetooth accessories.

Step 4: Put the Xbox One controller into pairing mode.

Every controller will have a slightly different process to put it into pairing mode.

For Xbox One controllers:

  • Turn the controller on. The Xbox button should start flashing slowly to say the controller isn’t paired with another device.
  • Hold down the pairing button for three seconds. The Xbox button will flash quickly to show that it’s in pairing mode.

Step 5: Find the Xbox One controller on the list of devices.

Back on the NVIDIA Shield TV, the screen’s right-hand side will display any nearby devices that are in pairing mode.

This should only be the Xbox One controller unless someone is going through this process somewhere else in your home.

Step 6: Pair the Xbox One controller with your NVIDIA Shield.

Once you’ve found the Xbox One controller on the list of devices, click on it to start the pairing process.

You’ll see the status start with the controller’s MAC address, change to Pairing, then Connecting.

After a few seconds, the status will change to Paired.

Step 7: Exit back to the home screen.

Once the status shows ‘paired,’ the process is complete. Return to the Remotes & Accessories settings menu. You’ll see the Xbox Wireless Controller listed under your paired devices.


Xbox One Controller: No Headphone Audio

Second and third-generation Xbox One controllers have a 3.5 mm headphone jack at the bottom. That’s great if you want to play games without disturbing everyone in your house.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to map that to the NVIDIA Shield. NVIDIA confirmed this back in February 2020.

Xbox One Controller with Wireless Adapter

This is a head-scratcher.

The Xbox 360 controller works with Microsoft’s official wireless adapter on the NVIDIA Shield, but the Xbox One controller doesn’t.

For whatever reason, Microsoft hasn’t created a Linux\Android driver for the Xbox One wireless adapter. Until that happens, there’s no way to get it to work.

Wrapping It Up

If you have a Third Generation Xbox One controller (manufactured after 2016), it’s easy to connect it to the NVIDIA Shield via Bluetooth. The wired and wireless versions of the Xbox 360 controllers also work well out of the box.

However, first- and second-generation Xbox One controllers don’t have Bluetooth built-in, so they cannot be used with the Shield TV.

For more great articles like this, head to my NVIDIA Shield TV resource page. You’ll find all my tips, tricks, reviews, and tutorials to help you get the most out of your NVIDIA Shield. 

Tim Wells