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10 essential Xbox One setup tips that all owners need to know

So you’ve just got an Xbox One S for the first time, or maybe you’ve splashed out and upgraded to an Xbox One X and grabbed all the best Xbox One accessories? There are tons of great features at the heart of Microsoft’s consoles, not to mention all the games waiting to be played. But, before you get thumbs down, here are some of the top Xbox One tips that you need to know to get the best out of your console. There are tons of great features at the heart of Microsoft’s consoles, not to mention all the games waiting to be played.

1. Transfer your old Xbox One account

If you’ve got a new Xbox One S or the fancier Xbox One X to replace your now five-year-old OG Xbox One, you’ll now need to transfer all your old games, apps and settings to your new console. Log in normally and start downloading the games onto your account, or use an external hard drive (if you’ve got the original with a meagre 500MB of memory, we’re guessing you have one), or use Network transfer, to copy over either the entire console, settings and all, or cherry pick what you need.

2. Go big or go Home

Making your Xbox your home console means everybody with a profile on your Xbox one can access all the games and apps you own, on any console, without signing in as you (unless you’ve restricted access via Family Features). Settings > Personalisation > My Home Xbox to make that console your Home, or un-Home it. When you change Home consoles, all licenses for digital content move to your new Home Xbox and are no longer available on the old one – though your previous home Xbox will still allow your friends and family to access your stuff while you’re signed in. You can change your Home console up to five times.

3. Make your account Gold(en)

While you can use your console with a basic Xbox Live free account, you’re going to want Xbox Live Gold if you plan to play multiplayer games online. As an added bonus to being able to lose at Fortnite to a 12-year-old, or play any number of amazing online games such as Red Dead Online, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 etc, being an Xbox Live Gold member also gives you free games. Here are the Xbox Games with Gold titles available this month.

4. Get an Xbox Game Pass subscription

Xbox Game Pass

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox Game Pass is essentially Netflix for games, and for just £7.99/$9.99 a month – with two weeks’ free trial available – you get access to a huge number of games just ready to be played, without having to shell out on the full-priced game. Right off the bat, you can play more, and more diverse, games than ever. There are tons of brand new triple-A titles here too, in particular Microsoft’s own titles such as Halo 5, the Gears trilogy, State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves and Forza Horizon 4. You’ll also find indie gems making an appearance too. Game Pass subscribers can download as many games as they like, though once you stop subscribing you’ll no longer be able to play them.

5. Make your Xbox family safe

If you’ve got little ’uns and you don’t want them exposed to violence and swearing, you can protect their fragile eggshell minds by setting up a Family Account. Settings > Account > Family, then add the kids as Child accounts. In this way you can limit their access to appropriately PEGI or BBFC-rated content, create an ‘Allow’ list on Xbox.com for internet search results, and regulate how your kids can communicate with others online too. Microsoft recently updated its family settings to include new tools to monitor and set time limits on screen time, limit purchases, filter content and ensure the privacy of children’s profiles. The settings are managed via the parent’s Microsoft account.

6. Optimise your 4K

This one’s for the X owners. So you’ve got your lovely high-def best 4K TV for gaming, but how do you make sure you’re getting the best out of the Xbox One X when it’s played through it? First go to Display and Sound settings on your Xbox One X, then ‘4K TV details’ to find out what types of HDR your panel supports and how many colours it can display. To make 4K games look their best, your TV’s black levels need to be correctly set. Your TV’s HDMI range should be set to auto, but ‘HDMI limited’ or ‘black level high’ is the option you want. Your Xbox One X’s colour space should also be set to ‘Standard (Recommended)’, which you’ll find in ‘Video fidelity & overscan’ in Display & Sound settings. Make sure the sharpness slider on your television is set to no more than 10 per cent maximum; 4K offers a naturally sharp image, so you don’t want extra sharpness to add unwanted noise. Enable game mode, if your 4K set has one. Switching this on reduces lag times. To enable HDR’s full range of colours, the HDMI slot your Xbox is plugged into needs to be calibrated to support ‘4:2:2 chroma subsampling’. On your TV, you should find something similar to LG’s ‘Ultra HD Deep Colour’ or Sony sets’ ‘Enhanced’ HDMI format.

7. Don’t forget Xbox 360 games

Art of John Marston from Red Dead Redemption.

The Xbox One backwards compatibility list is ever-growing, and already includes the likes of Left 4 Dead, The Darkness, Mafia 2, Crackdown, Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2, GTA 4, Bioshock and more. So you can still enjoy the classics, many of them updated to 4K. This means that the range of games you can play on your Xbox is huge.

8. You're going to need a bigger hard drive

You won’t believe how quickly the console’s storage fill up. Xbox One S comes with either 500MB or 1TB of storage, the X typically comes with 1TB. Even with a full terabyte (that’s 1,000 megabytes), if you’re digitally downloading games to your hard drive, it’s going to fill up fast. Even disc games will have digital updates that need space on your console. There are a lot of good options for external storage, which is easily plugged into and managed via your Xbox.

9. Use a mouse and keyboard

Using a PC keyboard might not seem like the future, but it is! Microsoft head honcho Phil Spencer has suggested that keyboard and mouse support for Xbox One games is heading full-pelt towards the console, so that you can actually play games using the PC gamer’s weapons of choice. But even now you can plug your keyboard into your Xbox – enabling much faster text-based chat.

10. Don't be afraid to do a hard reset

Sometimes, things go wrong. All tech, even your Xbox, sometimes needs the old IT Crowd trick of turning it off and on again. All but the most catastrophic of problems can be sorted by doing a hard reset of your Xbox. That’s ‘turning it off and on again PLUS’. What this does is to clear the Xbox One’s cache, which often sorts out your issues, be they network connection problems or game crashes. This doesn’t delete anything you’ve installed, games apps or even save data. Just hold the console’s power button pressed for 10 seconds, then wait 10 seconds and switch it back on.

Want to know more about your new console? Here's our pick of the cool things you didn't know you could do with your Xbox One