We’ve already covered the best PS4 tips and tricks , and now it’s time to turn our attention to the Xbox One. We’ve scoured the web for the best controller shortcuts, media streaming tricks, and other tips that will help you get the most out of your machine. Here are 10 tricks to turn you into an Xbox One master.
1) Connect an external hard drive
If you find yourself running out of room on your Xbox One console, you can plug in an external hard drive to instantly give the system a bit more breathing room—provided it’s USB 3.0 compatible, has a partition created on it, and is larger than 256GB in size. In fact, you can connect up two hard drives at the same time, if you need a lot of extra space.
If you connect a suitable drive, the Xbox One should automatically take over and guide you through the process of getting it set up. Head to System and then Storage from the All settings page to customize and configure the attached storage further. If you get yourself into trouble, Microsoft has an official troubleshooting guide you can refer to.
2) Change the download queue order
If you’re waiting for several games to download and install at once, you don’t have to wait for them in the original order. Find the tile of the game currently downloading, press the Menu button (three horizontal lines), choose Pause download and the next app in the queue will start downloading instead. You can pause app installations in the same way.
To find everything that’s downloading and installing in one place, go to My games & apps and then Queue (from the Home screen that’s RT then A). The Menu button can come in handy for all kinds of context-sensitive operations, so it’s worth experimenting with it as you move around the system, as you’ll often find quicker ways of doing things.
3) Play media files from anywhere
There are a few different ways of getting your music, movies, and photos on your Xbox One. You can just plug a USB stick in, which will appear on the front screen of the default Media Player app. You’ll be prompted to install it if you don’t already have it. Media Player can also access any content you’ve set up as part of a DLNA server on your home network.
You can set up media streaming in Windows or use a third-party app like Plex (which already offers an Xbox One app) for the job. Another option is to simply copy your files into OneDrive on a computer and then access them through the Xbox One app. You can play Blu-rays and DVDs through the Xbox One too, with an extra app download.
4) Customize the Xbox One interface
You can tweak the Xbox One Dashboard and interface in a couple of ways to make it truly your own. Head to Settings then All settings and choose Personalization from the list on the left. You can pick My color & background from the options and then My color to change the main color used on the Xbox One interface from the regulation green.
There’s also the option to tweak the main Dashboard background in the same menu, either using a custom image you’ve saved to your console or a screenshot you’ve taken. You’ll need to install the Media Player for this if you don’t already have it. If you’re using a custom image then you can adjust the transparency of the Dashboard tiles as well.
5) Stream games to Windows 10
Microsoft’s vision of an operating system that works on every device hasn’t been fully realized yet, but you can stream games from your Xbox One to a Windows 10 machine relatively easily, as long as they’re both on the same network. From the Settings pane, choose All settings then Preferences. Under Game DVR and streaming make sure the right options are enabled.
Switch to your Windows 10 computer, plug in your Xbox One controller with a USB cable (the drivers should install automatically), and launch the Xbox app from the Start menu. Pick Xbox One connection (under Game streaming), choose your console, and the connection is made. Finally, click Stream to see the Xbox One interface in Windows.
6) Use the Xbox voice commands
If you hooked up a Kinect to your Xbox One, then you can take control of your console using your voice. Try “Xbox, go to...” and name an installed game or app, or “Xbox, go back” to go back to the previous screen or app. Say “Xbox, select” to see all of the supported voice commands inside the app that you’re currently running.
The Kinect lets you use gesture controls as well. For example, you can move between screens or zoom in and out, and if you have problems with Kinect seeing or hearing you then head to the Kinect screen in Settings for some assistance. Microsoft has provided a full list of voice commands and gestures that the Xbox One can recognize with Kinect’s help.
7) Remap controller buttons
The Xbox One allows you to remap the controller buttons if you feel that the default settings are having a negative impact on your average high score. Open Settings then All settings, then choose Kinect & devices and Devices & accessories. Choose your controller and select Button mapping (you can also check for controller updates here).
You’re then free to remap and reassign buttons as you see fit. The configuration options also let you invert the Y axis on the left and right sticks and even swap the sticks or the triggers around. If you get yourself in a confusing input mess then the Restore defaults option on the menu lets you quickly get back to the standard Xbox One control settings.
8) Use your phone as a second controller
Microsoft’s SmartGlass app for Android and iOS lets you control most parts of the Xbox One interface besides actually playing games. Sign in with your Microsoft account, and the app should be able to pick up your console (assuming it’s on the same network). You can access some features, like messaging, while you’re away from home as well.
The app’s various features and functions vary depending on the app you’re in, but it’s certainly handy as a remote control for video apps like Netflix and Plex. It’s also a useful way of accessing the Xbox One’s social features and the Store without interrupting what’s already on screen. You can still use the standard controller at the same time.
9) Think of the children
Just like the PS4, there are parental controls built into the Xbox One so you can make sure the kids aren’t doing anything they’re not supposed to while they’re gaming . Head to Settings, All settings and then Account and you’ll come across a Family option. Here you can create separate accounts for everyone who’s going to be using the console.
As you set up each new account, you’ll be prompted with a detailed set of options covering content, apps, web filtering and explicit text. The Xbox One is much more than a games console, of course, with a full complement of media and social media apps available, but these controls effectively cover every aspect of the device’s features.
10) Take a closer look
Like Windows, the Xbox One has a range of ease of access settings that can help if you’re struggling to use the Dashboard interface normally. There’s a Magnifier tool, for example, which gives you a closer look at on-screen text and elements. Press and hold the Xbox One button on the controller, then tap the View button to zoom in on the current screen.
Use the left stick to pan around and the two trigger keys to zoom in and out. Give the Xbox One button another long press and choose Close to exit the Magnifier. To get at other similar options, including a helpful high contrast mode, choose All settings from the Settings pane, then pick Ease of access at the bottom to see what’s available.