How to play SWTOR with an XBOX Controller on Steam

Although Star Wars: The Old Republic does not support controllers by default, many clever players have figured out that there are ways to set up the game to be playable on a controller. In this video, we’ll be going over how to map your controls for The Old Republic to an XBOX  controller, if you are playing SWTOR through Steam. If you are playing off of steam, for example you download the game from swtor.com, I have a separate guide that walks you through how to use Xpadder to play with an XBOX controller instead of using Steam.

Let’s start with talking about how many abilities and keybinds you have in Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you take a look at your abilities bar on a high level character, it’s pretty clear that combat was designed for a keyboard rather than a controller, which is why a controller is not usually recommended for this game. However, playing with a controller is a great way to work around different disabilities that make using a keyboard difficult or even impossible, and on top of that, some players will simply enjoy playing games with a controller more, especially if they are transitioning over from an XBOX or other console to more traditional computer gaming.

One misconception players have is that due to the number of abilities in the game, it’s impossible to play Star Wars: The Old Republic on a controller, and this is far from true. With this guide, you’ll be able to set up over 55 different keybinds, which should cover every single one of your abilities and anything else you want to keybind in the game. So go grab your controller and let’s go!

1. Open Steam in Big Picture

When you have Steam open, on your computer, open it up in Big Picture mode by clicking the small symbol of a box with two expanding arrows arrows, located on the top right.

You will only have controller support while playing in Big Picture mode, so make sure next time you play Star Wars: The Old Republic, open big picture first, then open the game.

2. Enable Controller

Sometimes Steam has controllers turned off by default, so we need to make sure XBOX controllers are turned on.

  • In Steam Big Picture, click the Gear Icon for settings on the top right.
  • Choose Controller Settings from the menu.
  • Make sure “XBOX Configuration Support” is checked.

If you don’t have this checked, you will get an error message that says “Configuration Support Disabled” later on.

3. Connect Your Controller

Plug your Xbox controller into your computer.

Bluetooth – Bluetooth Guide.

Using a micro usb cord – it has a USB plug in on one end and a tiny micro plug on the other, it will rumble once plugged in.

To add your XBOX Controller to your computer wirelessly with Bluetooth, you will need to follow these steps:

  • Plug in the bluetooth dongle into your computer
  • Turn on your computer
  • Turn on the controller
  • Hold down the tiny Blueooth / Wifi looking button on the top of your controller, which should make the xbox button glow on and off quickly
  • In your computer, left-click the tiny taskbar arrow near your clock on the bottom right of your screen
  • Left-click the Bluetooth Devices icon which is a little blue oval with a white squiggle in it and choose Show Bluetooth Devices
  • If your XBOS controller is not on there, choose “Add Bluetooth or other devices” at the top
  • From the next window choose “Bluetooth”
  • If your xbox controller shows up, choose it and you’re good to go. If it doesn’t show up, it’s not being dected and you’ll need to troubleshoot.
  • If you take too long, and your xbox controller’s light is not blinking fast anymore, hold the tiny Bluetooth / Wifi button on the top down again until it blinks fast again. It might still show up on the list but will get stuck “connecting”.

4. Set Up Your Controller

In Steam Big Picture, click Library, then find Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Once there, choose Manage Game on the left, then choose Controller Configuration from the menu.

5. Create a Configuration for your Xbox Controller

Once your controller is plugged in, you can create a layout for your controller.

Steam will start you off with a default configuration.

On this menu, you can select a section, then select a button, and assign it a key on your keyboard to map it too.

I have created my own SWTOR XBOX One Controller configuration you can use to save time. To use my config:

LINK: steam://controllerconfig/1286830/2559970688

  • Choose “Browse Configs” at the bottom.
  • Choose Community from the menu on the left.
  • You’ll need to look for mine, it will have my name “Swtorista” in it, and choose it.

It will look like this once you choose it:d

How exactly you want to set up your keybinds is going to be personal preference, but I’m going to show you player Nicolai’s set up that was recommended to me.

Nicolai has the right click at Right Button – better known as the right shoulder or right bumper – due to the camera movement in this game, you need to hold right click to turn your camera, and to make it as easy as possible Nicolai assigned it to the button where you normally “rest” your finger on the top right of the controller on Right Button, so it will be feel fairly natural for most people. The other three top buttons, so Right Trigger, Left Trigger and Left Bumper or Shoulder, Nicolai assigned to Shift, Alt, and Ctrl, which will allow you to use the Shift alt and Ctrl buttons combined with another button to get combination keybinds very similar to what experienced players use on a mouse and keyboard. Nicolai next keybound the D-pad on the left and the lettered keys on the right to the number keys, which are used for both conversation choices and for combining with the Shift, Alt, and Ctrl keys for ability keybinding. For getting around, Nicolai uses the left stick for movement and tapping it for tab targetting, and uses his right stick for moving the mouse cursor and tapping it for what would be left clicking on the mouse. Lastly, Nicolai also keybound the Options button on the right to be the Escape key on the keyboard.

*** This is the point where I ran into a lot of trouble / bugs, when I went to then launch the game through Big Picture. Big Picture was recognizing my controller just fine, but the game was not, even though I had followed all the steps. One of these fixed it, but I’m not sure which: Exit game, go back to Steam Big Picture’s homepage, and go back to the Controller support, and try this:

  • Uncheck everything, check PS4 support, un check it then check XBOX support
  • Double click your XBOX controller in the devices list
  • Click identify to make your controller buzz
  • Click calibrate then save
  • Try restarted the game
  • Another tip I saw was make sure you controller is on before you start steam (that didn’t help me)

6. Keybinds

Once you have decided what you want each of your controller keys to correspond with on a normal keyboard, you can set your keybinds ingame.

To save you a ton of trouble, I’ve set up a keybinds file you can download and add to your SWTOR files.

  1. Go to this website page: https://swtorista.com/media/controllers/PS4%20and%20XBOX%20Controller%20Keybinds.xml
  2. Right click the page and choose “Save As”
  3. You will need to save it in your SWTOR Keybindings folder. This can sometimes be hard to find. Mine is located in…
     C:\Users\Swtorista\AppData\Local\SWTOR\swtor\settings\Keybindings 
    With Swtorista being my username for my computer.
  4. Go ingame. Press ESCAPE -> PREFERENCES -> and go to the tab at the bottom called Keybinding Import/Export. You should now see the “PS4 and XBOX Controller Keybinds” option on the list on the left, then click OK on the bottom right.

This keybind files includes the 1 key, or in our case the cross or X key to be jump, strafing for left and right, adding CTRL+W for forward and CTRL+S for backwards, and rebinding tab to K so we don’t accidentally tab out of the game.

7. User Interface

If you are using the full power of keybinds, you’ll likely want to have all your quickbars showing now that you have all the keybinds ready to go. You have two options. The first is to use a preset user interface, which is the quickest. To make all your quickbars show, which is 3 for free to play, 5 for preferred players and 6 for subscribers, press ESCAPE, then choose Interface Editor. From there, look for a dropdown at the top, and choose “Extended Quickbars”, then click the very small load icon beside the dropdown.

If you want something a little more condensed, I’ve created a User Interface with all keybinds for the XBOX together. If you want to use mine instead, you’ll need to download my XML file:

  1. Go to this website page: https://swtorista.com/media/controllers/PS4%20and%20XBOX%20Controller%20UI.xml
  2. Right click the page and choose “Save As”
  3. You will need to save it in your SWTOR GUIProfiles folder. This can sometimes be hard to find. Mine is located in…
     C:\Users\Swtorista\AppData\Local\SWTOR\swtor\settings\GUIProfiles 
    With Swtorista being my username for my computer.
  4. Go ingame. Press ESCAPE -> INTERFACE EDITOR -> and then my interface called “PS4 and XBOX Controller UI” should be on the dropdown list, so you can select it and then click the load button on the right of the dropdown.

8. Abilities

The last step is to add your abilities to your quickbars. Which keybinds you want to associate with which abilities is completely up to you. Players tend to put their most used abilities on on the 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 0 keys, and then go from there for the keybinds that require combinations, with the three0keybind combinations for very obscure abilities or fun abilities like mounts or pets, as no matter what class you are playing you will not need all 55 keybinds available for combat.

To add abilities, you can either press P on your keyboard or choose abilities from the main menu under the icon of a person. From there you can left click drag your abilities into the slots on the quickbar.

So if I put my ability on the slot that says s+c+3, that’s Shift + Control + 3 keys on the keyboard, which will translate to Right Trigger + Left Button / Bumper / Shoulder + A on our XBOX controller! It will take a bit of time to memorize where on the controller Shift, Alt and Ctrl are, but once you have that, you don’t need to memorize your abilities right away, as you can consult your keybinds on your quickbars if you forget which ability is on which keybind.

9. Movement

Once you’ve got everything set up, you can jump in game through Big Picture and start playing! Start by using the left stick to move left and right, forward and back, with your left thumb. You’ll notice you won’t be able to look around, just move. To look around and add more nuance to your movement, try holding down Right Button aka Right Bumper or Right Shoulder and at the same time wiggle your right stick around so you can do things like look at the sky. Combining all three of these so you can look around while moving is what will give you almost as much versatility when it comes to movement as a player who has a mouse and keyboard. To click things, use just the right stick to move the mouse around, to left click things push the right stick, and to right click things tap Right Button / Shoulder / Bumper with your right index finger – most things in the game are activated by right clicking them. Once you find some enemies, push your left stick to “tab target” them, which means you can click it again to cycle between multiple enemies. You can then use the d-pad on the left and the ABXY keys on the right to use your attacks, and once you feel comfortable moving around, attacking and targetting you can start using those combination keys for your other attacks too.

If you’re struggling to remember, I’ve made a PDF you can print out that you can tape to the wall or keep beside you as you play that has each of the XBOX controller keybinds on it. Open and Print PDF

As someone who primarily use a mouse and keyboard and has never owned a console, I was surprised how easy gaming with the controller and these keybinds was, especially as I struggle with the types of keybinds that skilled Old Republic gamers use for combat – they use those same key combinations with Alt, Shift and Ctrl and the numbers 0 though 9, but because they are so much further spread across they keyboard I found it a lot easier to combine keybinds on the XBOX controller than I ever have been able to on a traditional keyboard. Nicolai, who is slightly handicapped and who showed me how to set this up originally on a XBOX controller, says he has been able to tank some of the most difficult content in the game using this setup, including Nightmare mode operations, and I’m not surprised that a skilled player could use this setup for difficult content based on my testing. While someone who is used to a mouse and keyboard may take a while to get used to it, players who are already comfortable using an XBOX or other console controller should be able to pick SWTOR up very quickly once it’s all set up, and using a controller where the controls are more condensed and portable definitely gives a lot more options when it comes to accessibility!

Fun fact, here’s a guide all the way back from 2011 at the launch of the game where player SW_Dad shows how he plays Star Wars: The Old Republic with Xpadder and a controller! Wow! So while Steam makes things easier to set up, playing with a controller is nothing new.


Questions or comments? Feel free to send me a message on Twitter @swtorista, Reddit /u/swtorista, Youtube Swtorista channel or by e-mail at the same name with gmail.com at the end. Have fun out there and may the Force be with you. ~ Swtorista