How to use keyboard and mouse on Xbox Series X or S

If you don't like controllers, you can always rely on your trusty mouse and keyboard.

Image via Microsoft

Controllers are the universal input device when it comes to console gaming.

They’re more convenient and slightly more comfortable to use than a mouse and keyboard combination. Considering how consoles are mostly associated with sitting back and relaxing while gaming, it’s quite challenging for gaming mice and keyboards to replace them.

That’s unless you’re struggling with camera controls in first-person shooter (FPS) games or using your console as an entertainment center. Though most FPS games are perfectly designed and fully compatible with controllers, long-time PC gamers will find it impossible to adapt to playing on a controller. The way movement sticks function makes it extremely difficult to balance a one-to-one sensitivity transition with your fingers and the game. Some people can pull this off with enough training, but it’s only understandable if you would like to skip forward the adapting part to enjoy your games as if you’d do on a PC.

How can you use a mouse and keyboard on Xbox Series X or S?

The short answer to this is that you can just plug them in. Xbox One was late to the party when it came to mouse and keyboard support, but Microsoft isn’t looking to make the same mistake again. Both Xbox Series X and S support mouse and keyboard inputs. This means that your system should recognize your peripherals as soon as you plug them into your console.

Sometimes it may not work right away, and your system may need a couple of seconds extra to recognize them fully. If your mouse and keyboard don’t work after a minute or so, you should try out switching ports.

Can you use a wireless mouse and keyboard on Xbox Series X or S?

Screengrab via Logitech

The USB transmitters that ship alongside wireless gaming mice and keyboards handle all the data communication between your peripherals and your console. This means that almost all wireless keyboards and mice will work with Xbox Series X and S.

If the two devices share a single transmitter—a common thing in package deals—there may be small hiccups, though. The quality of the transmitter used usually happens to be the deciding factor. Any wireless mouse and keyboard like Razer Turret will have no problems, while over-the-counter mouse and keyboard combos will be a coin flip.

Are there any disadvantages of playing with a mouse and keyboard on Xbox Series X or S?

Plugging a keyboard and mouse into your system can make life a lot easier. You’ll be able to type and browse faster while navigating around the menus will also become smoother. Players transitioning to Xbox Series X and S from PCs will have an easier time in FPS games, but not because they’ll be playing against console players.

While they’ll get to play like how they’ve always been, almost all shooter titles on Xbox can detect that you’re using a mouse and keyboard instead of a controller. The games then separate you from the matchmaking pool of console players and only let you play in PC lobbies. 

Though your console can out-spec a good chunk of gaming PCs in the market, you’ll be at a slight disadvantage against players who are rocking systems that hit over 240 frames per second. Achieving frames that high also enables PC players to use high refresh-rate monitors, allowing players’ screens to refresh faster and will enable them to see faster even if it’s a couple of milliseconds.

If you’d like to avoid playing with PC players, we recommend performing a quick Google search to see whether the game of your choice stacks up mouse-and-keyboard players with PC users.

What will happen to my controller keybinds if I switch to mouse and keyboard, vice versa?

Nothing will happen to your controller keybinds. Most games and Xbox will store them either on your device or the cloud, and they’ll always be waiting for you if you ever decide to switch back to playing on a controller.

The same will apply to keyboard controllers as well. Games will automatically assign you the default mouse and keyboard hotkeys, but any customizations you make will be saved. You’ll be able to use the same configurations whenever you plug in your mouse and keyboard.

What are mouse and keyboard adapters? Can they be used to play Xbox Series X/S with a mouse and keyboard?

Mouse and keyboard adapters have a terrible reputation within the Xbox community. This is mostly because these adapters allow players to avoid playing against PC players even when they’re using a mouse and keyboard. This happens because these transmitters use your mouse and keyboard inputs and replicate them by emulating a controller, meaning your console still thinks it’s receiving commands from a controller.

They’re certainly an unfair advantage if you decide to use them in an unsportsmanlike manner, but they also allow players to use mouse and keyboards in games that only support controllers.

It’s harmless unless you’re taking your powers to online lobbies, or even at best if you consider yourself quite awful at the game you’re playing. These transmitters can also let you use mouse-and-keyboard pairs that were initially not detected by your console. Your peripherals may be too old for a modern system, but adapters have existed through the last three Xbox generations, and they support almost all input types.

Most adapters usually ship with their own mobile or desktop software. You can use these apps to make further customizations to the default key bindings. Remember that the default settings you’ll receive will not be from the developers of your game but from the community members or adapter manufacturers who were kind enough to create custom keybind layouts for games. Despite being handcrafted, the default settings still do an excellent job of replicating a PC-like experience.