How to Set Up Your New Xbox Series X/S

If you’ve managed to get your hands on the Xbox Series X—or, much more likely, the Series S—you’re probably eager to start playing. But you know how it goes; there’s some work to do before you can jump in. Here’s what you need to do (and how to make it easier).

Be sure to also read up on our Switch Tips and Secrets, Favorite Switch Accessories, and Bundle Deals. And, if you were lucky enough to get an OLED Switch upgrade this year, make sure to transfer all of your data.

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Start With the Xbox Mobile App

We’ve talked before about how useful the Xbox Mobile App for Android and iOS is once you have your console set up, but you won’t want to wait to install it. It’s also the easiest way to set up your new Xbox, since it allows you to type out your Wi-Fi password on your phone instead of with a controller and continue customizing your settings while the system downloads an update in the background.

When you first plug in your console, you’ll be presented with a 10-character code that you can enter in the mobile app to continue setup. After connecting to Wi-Fi, the app will walk you through choosing settings—like power-saving modes, instant sign-on, or remote features like playing games from your console on your phone.

Add Accounts and Controllers

The initial setup process will ask you to sign in to a Microsoft account in order to buy and download games. But if more than one person is going to use the console, you can make it easier to share by assigning accounts to each controller. Then, when someone wants to use the Xbox under their account, they can just pick up their controller and start playing. (Don’t worry, you can easily swap profiles manually if your controller dies and you need to borrow someone else’s.)

To assign new accounts to your other controllers, press the Xbox button, head to Profile & system > Settings > Devices & connections > Accessories. Here, you’ll see all the controllers paired with the system. Select the three-dot menu under the one you want to assign, choose “Assigned to …” and log in to the Microsoft account of the person you want the controller to belong to.

Sync From Your Old Console

For the most part, syncing data to your new console is easy. As long as you were signed in to your Xbox account on your old console, your game save data should sync to the new one. You’ll also be able to download games in your library. 

However, it’s possible for some data to not transfer over. Some games don’t support cloud save, and there’s not much you can do there. If you’re missing data from a game, you can check to ensure the data got backed up on the old console by highlighting the game, pressing the menu button, and checking Manage game and add-ons. Additionally, if you want to transfer game save data from your older Xbox 360 for backwards compatible games, you can do that too, though you’ll need to enable it manually (and you’ll need an Xbox Live Gold subscription).

Enable (and Balance) 4K, HDR, and 120 Hz

The new generation of consoles are beasts of machines that can handle 4K, HDR, and 120 Hz gaming, sometimes all at once. Most TVs that support these features should detect them automatically, but you can check and enable them at Profile & system > Settings > General, if they didn’t.

However, depending on the games you play, you might want to consider picking and choosing which of these features to enable. For example, 4K and 120 frames per second gaming can add huge processing demands, and on games that support ray tracing, the problem only gets worse. Turning off one of these settings can improve the performance of the others. While some games will let you make this choice inside the game itself, you can also cap your settings here if, say, 60 fps is enough for you.

Download Your Games (ASAP)

Once you get settled in, you can find all the games you’ve purchased in the My Games & Apps section of the console. But that’s not all you’ll find here. There are also links to find any games you’ve claimed via Xbox Live Gold, and games you can download via Xbox Game Pass. If you have both subscriptions, you have the widest selection of titles, but it can also be a bit of a chore to find everything you want to download.

It’s worth getting started as soon as you can because downloads take time. You may even want to open the console up before you gift it to start. Most popular AAA games can be tens of gigabytes—Halo: Infinite, for example, is nearly 50 GB for both the multiplayer and campaign—on their own. The last thing anyone wants to do is spend their first day with the console waiting on downloads, so the earlier you can get started, the better.

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