Xpadder is the perfect example of a useful app that doesn’t get the praise it deserves. There’s no fancy graphics and the user interface isn’t beautiful, but the utility is powerful and serves a basic purpose. Essentially, Xpadder allows you to map controller buttons to a variety of basic keyboard and mouse gestures, letting you to use a large number of controllers that would otherwise be useless in Windows.
The app has many potential uses, but one of the most common is configuring console controllers to work with games that don’t have native game pad support. While Xpadder will not provide drivers for whichever controller suits your fancy, as long as your controller is recognized by Windows, the app will let you map the controller’s buttons to your liking. There is an almost infinite number of possible combinations of controllers and games that could be configured using Xpadder, but today we’re going focus on how to use the Xbox 360 controller in Minecraft.
What is Xpadder?
Xpadder is a simple application that lets you bind controller buttons (on a wide variety of 3rd-party controllers) to keyboard keys. This allows you to play games — that are typically keyboard-only — with a handheld controller. Whether you have your PC hooked up to a TV or you simply prefer playing with a game pad, Xpadder will do the trick.
The software supports Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8, and is compatible with both 32 and 64 bit architectures. Also, it allows you to use up to 16 controllers at one time, configure rumble force feedback, and features multiple profile management through sharable files. Gamepad support includes any controller that has working drivers for Windows — everything from ancient joysticks to the PlayStation 3 controller are compatible.
Xpadder works with plastic peripherals such as steering wheels, dance pads, and guitars.
Download and Install XPadder
Xpadder is available at Xpadder.com for $10. After clicking the “download” button, you are brought through a series of pages explaining how the software works, and eventually find yourself on a PayPal page waiting for your credentials. After you pay, the installer “Xpadder.exe” is a simple executable that should walk you through the install process.
First, you need to make sure that you have a Windows-compatible controller attached to your computer. For the purpose of this tutorial we will be using a standard wired Xbox 360 controller. As I said before, hundreds of controllers are compatible — you just have to make sure their respective drivers are configured correctly. The Xbox 360 controller is one of the easiest to set up as it has plug-and-play compatibility with Windows 7 and 8.
Create a New Button Map
Once you’ve finally gotten to the main screen of the program, it’s time to actually create our button layout. First, click the small game pad icon in the top left-hand corner and choose “new” from the drop down menu. A new windows should appear — this is the “Controller Settings” panel.
The first thing you need to do is decide which kind of controller you’re mapping. Xpadder features “images” that will show the basic layout of your controller, giving you a visual representation of its buttons. This isn’t a required step, but it makes things a lot easier to organize. Once you have decided which kind of controller you want to set up, go to the Xpadder Game Controller Database to find and download the appropriate image.
Click the “Mode” button to reveal controls for creating your own controller image!
As you may find, clicking the “Download…” button in the above window will simply tell you to go to the Xpadder website to find your image. After you’ve downloaded the correct image file, save it to the desktop or somewhere easily accessible. You’re going to want to choose “Open…” and browse to the image file that you downloaded. Once again, this step isn’t completely required, but it will come in handy as you will see later in this How-To.
Alternatively, you can go to the previously mentioned Xpadder Game Controller Database, copy the respective controller image, and click the “Paste” button in the above menu. This button will use any image you currently have in your clipboard.
Basic Controller Set-up
The bulk of configuring your controller is setting up the individual buttons, but the process is fairly easy. After you’ve configured your image, you will see 4 more tabs: Sticks, DPad, Buttons, and Triggers.
Analog Sticks and the DPad
After you click the “Enabled” check box, the program will ask you to press the stick in certain directions. It’s fairly straightforward, so just do as Xpadder tells you. Before moving on, make sure you remember to enable the right analog stick as well.
Remember to drag and drop each button indicator to the appropriate location on the image. Later, these will represent which button corresponds to each key.
The next area, “DPad,” looks very similar to the “Sticks” menu and will be configured the same way. Just click the check box to enable the DPad, and follow the directions when Xpadder asks you to press buttons for detection. Don’t bother changing any settings, just go through these menus enabling the features and following the instructions.
Buttons and Triggers
Next up is button configuration. Press each button on your controller, one at a time, to add them to the controller layout. As you press the buttons, make sure you are dragging and dropping each indicator to the corresponding location on the image. If you’re configuring an Xbox 360 controller (or most other modern controllers, for that matter), make sure you don’t forget to click each analog stick as well.
Configuring the triggers couldn’t be easier, but I commonly make the mistake of configuring them on the “Buttons” menu. If you do that, they will still work, but if your controller’s triggers have multiple sensitivity levels, it will simply register them as clicks regardless of how far down you’ve pressed them. You do, however, configure bumpers (those like “LB” and “RB” on the Xbox) on the buttons menu. The triggers menu lets you register these triggers as triggers, rather than simple one-click buttons.
Now that you’ve configured the controller completely, click the “Ok” button. The next step is configuring each button to be bound to a certain key on the keyboard. For the purposes of this article we’re going to set up Xpadder to work with Minecraft.
To use the Xpadder-configured controller with Minecraft, you have to bind each button to the one you have set in the game’s settings. Below are my controls, so I will be matching each one with whichever controller button I want to perform that control in Xpadder.
The screenshot below shows how I have set up some of the buttons in Xpadder, but you may need to tweak each one to your liking. After you have selected which key will be bound to each button, Xpadder should immediately start doing its magic. The app runs in the background, allowing your controller to always send its respective key when a button is pressed.
Configuring other games that don’t have native game pad support should be a similar process; simply find which keyboard keys you need to configure, and use Xpadder to make your controller emulate their action.
Using Xpadder does require a decent amount of trial and error, so don’t be upset if you need to make some changes. You may forget to bind certain keys, or you might be playing a game only to find that there is no way to you to perform a certain action. Thankfully, Xpadder supports all buttons on the keyboard and a wide variety of mouse functions, so assuming your controller has enough buttons, you should be able to find a way to configure them to your liking.
In conclusion, it’s worth noting that I have found many more PC applications that can take advantage of Xpadder; it’s definitely not just for games. For instance, if you wanted to configure your Xbox controller to change iTunes tracks, simply bind those keyboard shortcuts to whichever button you please. If you want to use a Guitar Hero controller to reload a browser windows, you can do that too. Point being, the app allows for only as many practical (or impractical) uses as you can imagine.
For $10, Xpadder provides a great value and extends many games and applications’ features, and the convenience of using a hardware controller to perform countless Windows actions is a powerful tool. Configuring the app to allow you to use your controllers with an abundance of games couldn’t be easier, and its full functionality expands much further.