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Xbox One: Tips and tricks to get the best from your Microsoft console

The Xbox One has been outselling the PS4 in recent months and the Xbox One S has arrived, so now is a good time to give you some television and streaming-based tips and tricks to get the most from your Microsoft console.

1) Let your Xbox control your TV

Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can use your Xbox One to control your TV, which opens up the potential to use Kinect voice commands (more on that later). Simple go to Settings (click the three-line button aka the ‘burger button’ at any time), then head to ‘TV & OneGuide’. From here you can select ‘Devices’ and click ‘Automatic’ to set it up.

If all goes to plan and your TV can handle it, you should hear it switch to mute. At this point you can now set other useful options such as your TV turning off when you switch off the Xbox One by heading to ‘Power Settings’.

2) Disable or enable disc auto-play

Disc auto-play is enabled by default and it allows the Xbox One to remember where you last got to in a Blu-ray (you need the Blu-ray app for this, which is well worth a download), even if you take the disc out and put back in later. If you would prefer it not to do that, go into Settings, then Disc & Blu-ray. Now uncheck or check the options ‘Play Disc Automatically’ and ‘Resume Playback’, depending on your preference.

3) Take a screenshot

The Xbox One gained the ability to take a screenshot back in 2015 and is incredibly useful if you wish to share something with fellow Xbox friends. With Kinect plugged in, you can simply say: “Xbox, take screenshot.” Or you can double tap the Xbox button on your controller before pressing ‘Y’ to capture. Bear in mind it only works in games.

4) Find shows you can watch on Xbox One

With Kinect operating you can use the power of your voice to find new shows. Simply say, “Xbox, Bing House of Cards“, and you will see exactly how to watch the brilliant political thriller using your Xbox One. If you lack the app needed to play the show, you will need to install it beforehand. If not, it will jump to the app and will have a bit of Kevin Spacey ready to go. Check out some other potential new shows to watch here.

5) Learn the voice commands

Speaking of voice stuff, it can be a pain to remember all the Xbox One commands. But you can say, “Xbox, select”, which shows you what to say to select an option, eliminating the need to find your Xbox One controller while ensuring your TV time is as lazy as possible.

Or you can use the following commands as a reference, all preceded by: “Xbox.”

  • Go Home ─ returns you to home menu
  • Snap / Unsnap ─ switches snap feature on and off
  • Bing ─ starts a Bing web-based search
  • Sign in ─ signs you in
  • Play ─ plays a video
  • Use a code ─ lets you redeem a code
  • Next song / Previous song  ─ skip to next or previous song
  • Mute / Unmute  ─ silence or unsilence Xbox One
  • On / Turn off  ─ switches console on or off
  • Volume up / Volume down  ─ adjusts volume up or down
  • Invite [insert name] ─ Invites [player name] to a chat or game

6) Use your smartphone as a controller

Always having to find your Xbox controller? You could download the SmartGlass app for Xbox One and turn your smartphone into a controller. Though a bit rubbish for gaming, it makes browsing the web significantly easier and some games and apps actually gain content if you control them in this fashion. It is also rather impressive for showing off what the Xbox One and Xbox One S can do.

7) Download TV apps

The Xbox One is a great device for streaming TV so it is really worth downloading the relevant apps for letting you do just that. Now TV has an app, as does Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, iPlayer, Demand 5 and many, many others. By downloading an app, you can pin it to your home screen so it is easier to into your favourite shows.

Obviously you need a subscription for certain services (and a TV licence for watching iPlayer). You can also use the OneGuide to rent and buy movies or, if lucky, get them free if there is a promotion going on.

8) Watch Freeview TV on your Xbox One

Streaming Freeview is a no go on the Xbox One until, that is, you buy the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner kit, which features a discreet black box and cable. Being able to watch the likes of Freeview and Freeview HD is the main benefit, but it is also nice you can control Freeview viewing with Kinect voice commands for added convenience. A really great add-on for those who lack a cable TV subscription – it is just a shame there is no option to pause of rewind TV.

9) Stream content from a variety of sources

A multitude of different connections makes the Xbox One capable of playing content from various sources including USB, from a PC using a DLNA connection and from the cloud if you have the Plex app and your content is stored there providing, of course, you have a subscription.

Even better is the fact you can hook up not one but two external hard drives, providing they are USB 3.0 compatible and at least 256GB in storage size. Simply connect them using a USB cable, format it (so use a new one or one you are happy to see erased) and then enjoy games and media stored there once the internal hard drive fills up. It works automatically so there is no need to faff around.

10) Play old Xbox 360 games

Not strictly a TV-focussed feature, but then it is a big asset of the Xbox One. Simply insert an Xbox 360 disc or download it from the Xbox One store and off you go. This is a free service so, unlike PS4 gamers, it requires zero pennies from you. Check this list here for the entire list of games available and those that have been recently added: Xbox One backward compatability.