Tips For Using The Xbox One

So you've got a new Xbox One. Now what? "Xbox, do something!" We've got some advice.

If you have a 360 and are short a socket, consider juggling power bricks

The Xbox One and the Xbox 360 don't use the same power brick, but the cable that connects the bricks to the wall is the same. If for some reason you want to keep your 360 and your non-backwards-compatible One at the ready, you could keep connecting and disconnecting at the power brick level. Or just do it at the wall. Or just get a power strip!


Plug in Kinect

Yes, it's a little weird. Yes, maybe they're watching you. But they say they aren't, not in ways you can't turn off. They've said so. There's a privacy statement that makes this all clear. You should read it.

But maybe you think the Kinect might be useless. Who needs it when you've got a game controller at the ready? Well. The fact is that, in many rooms, the Kinect does quite well reacting to verbal commands. The Xbox One's dashboard is made to be navigated by voice. You can use a controller, too, but the dash is swiftest with voice. It's at least worth trying...

Before you begin calibrating Kinect, we suggest you turn your TV speakers up. Kinect has trouble hearing voice commands over a loud TV. This might help prepare it to do better with that.


Consider consolidating your HMDI connections by plugging something into the Xbox One

It's a neat parlor trick to run a Wii U or PS4 through an Xbox One. You could try a 360, too. (Or even an Xbox One into itself, if you're mad.) But fears of slight lag or a framerate downgrade for this kind of connection make it something we don't recommend. Microsoft explicitly does not support hooking a game console into the One, probably for those reasons.

Instead, if you have a cable box, plug that into your Xbox One and then, when the console is up and running, say "Xbox Watch TV" and get it all working. Just be forewarned that you'll have to take some extra steps to get any surround sound out of your cable box.


Don't let your Xbox One control your TV's power

The Xbox One is a champ at telling cable boxes to change their channels. You can even use the Xbox One to turn your cable box on and off. We don't, however, think the Xbox One has any business turning your TV on and off, since it leads to too many non-ideal scenarios. For example, if your TV is already on because you're watching something, saying "Xbox On" and having that command send a power signal to your TV might result in your TV turning off. That ain't ideal.


Customize the system's OneGuide TV listings

Explore the OneGuide, and add your favorite shows to your "favorites." That'll make navigating a lot easier.


Use the system's standby mode

Your Xbox One will boot up faster and the machine will be able to be turned on with a verbal command. If you're worried that this means Kinect is always watching, just point it at a wall or something.


Say "Xbox" and then wait

You'll bring up a list of possible commands. Learn these. Play around with them. See what happens when you start snapping various things together.

Tips For Using The Xbox One

Tips For Using The Xbox One

Tips For Using The Xbox One

Once you know the commands, try saying them naturally. You might be surprised how well the Kinect can hear you. For some people, it's great. It varies.

There are also a bunch of tutorials you can find on the system. At launch, they're just to the right on your home screen. Try them.


Try snapping a TV show or app while you're playing a game

This is the Xbox One's most distinct feature. No other game console splits your TV screen like this. Give it a shot. Alt suggestion: play a game and then say "Xbox, snap activity" so you can keep up with your friend feed while playing.

Tips For Using The Xbox One

Bonus tip: Don't want to snap with a voice command? Tap the controller's main Xbox button and select the snap option. Double tap that button to return to the game. To unsnap, tap that same home button and select unsnap.

Bonus bonus tip: Switch back and forth between what's on the left of your screen and the snapped app either by saying "Xbox Switch" or double-tapping the controller's Xbox home button.


Talk to the Xbox about games and shows differently

Remember that the command for TV is "Watch" and the command for Apps and Games is "Go To." So you GO TO Ryse: Son of Rome but you WATCH Rise of the Guardians. Say "Xbox" first, of course.


Do NOT tell your Xbox to go to another game unless you're sure you saved

The console will not warn you that you haven't saved your progress. It will not ask if you're sure. It will just close the game down on you and load the next one. You don't want this to happen...


Queue your downloads and installations

If you're an Xbox Live Gold subscriber, you have access to a lot of apps that you'll have to add one at a time. Go to the official Xbox store in your console and start downloading. Maybe grab some games, too. Get the app for playing Blu-Rays, for example. Grab Upload Studio, so you can share clips you've captured with Game DVR. Nab SkyDrive, too, which lets you share videos and other media back and forth from your computer to your console. This is how you'll be able to move captured game clips to your computer, if you want.

Downloads and installations can take some time on Xbox One, but since it can all happen in the background, you can manage this by lining everything up and then doing something else on the system.


Learn how to get to your system settings

No, this should not be hard, but it is! The settings menu can be strangely difficult to find, and the Kinect might not always respond to "Xbox go to Settings." If you want to quickly access settings, press the "menu" button, aka the start button.


Learn to pin

The Xbox One dashboard is 100x more useful if you pin your favorite games and apps to the left of the system's start-up screen. Find an icon for the game or app you want to pin, press the menu button on the controller and pick the pinning option. Your pins will even travel with you if you put your profile on another console.

Tips For Using The Xbox One

Note: use this same tip to delete games and apps. You'll be able to see how much room they take up by pressing that select button and can delete them from there; the system has no main interface for managing storage, for some reason.


Improve your avatar

Your Xbox 360 avatar will import into your Xbox One, but it'll look small and ugly. If you go to "About Me" in the settings menu and select "Set gamerpic." Now your avatar can pose for all sorts of new, bigger gamerpics.


Grab the SmartGlass app for your phone and tablet

Try out the Xbox One's SmartGlass app for your smartphone or tablet (iOS/Android/WindowsPhone/Windows 8). We haven't used it all that much yet, but so far it seems like a slick way to interact with your console, and it lets your phone double as a remote control and keyboard for typing. Very useful, particularly for banging out messages to friends. Plus, some games like Dead Rising 3 have nifty companion apps that, while inessential, can be fun to mess around with as you play.


Have fun!

....and if you have more tips for new Xbox One owners, please mention them below.

To contact the author of this post, write to stephentotilo@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo.