Xpadder is best of playing a video game on a keyboard that makes you cringe. If you’re anything like me, being forced to use a keyboard and mouse is a major deal-breaker for most games. At the same time, there are a ton of great titles out there with no controller support. So, is there any way around this? The answer is absolute. Xpadder is an affordable, user-friendly application that allows you to mimic a mouse and keyboard with almost any PC-based controller.
Learning to use a new program, even a simple one, is always a bit intimidating at first. That is the reason why I have written two articles about the top GameCube and GBA Emulators on last month. I studied a lot about them. I want to create more motivation, I decided to write this guide so you can leave your keyboard where it belongs: on your desk next to your mouse.
Obviously, the first thing you need to do is download Xpadder. There are lots of sites where you can do this, and there are both paid and free versions. Personally, I recommend you download Xpadder straight from xpadder.com. Xpadder is supported for Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista and XP
It’s true that you can find free versions of Xpadder relatively easily, but there are serious drawbacks.
- Firstly, free versions of Xpadder are typically dated, and dated versions often have compatibility issues.
- Secondly, free versions don’t come with support or updates.
A lifetime license from xpadder.com costs only $9.99, comes with support and includes all future Xpadder versions. All things considered, hunting down a free version of Xpadder just isn’t worth it.
Once you’ve paid the $9.99, the site will immediately send the software and the product key to your email. If you want to save yourself some time, it’s a good idea to save this email for future use. If you do misplace the email, though, it’s not a big deal; Xpadder.com keeps a record of everyone who’s already purchased the software and will resend it to your email whenever you want.
How to use Xpadder
Xpadder doesn’t have a drawn-out installation procedure. In fact, it has no installation procedure at all. Xpadder comes in a .zip format and will have to be extracted. Most newer versions of Windows can do this without any third-party programs. If you find you need a program to unzip Xpadder, there are dozens of free options that are widely available online.
After you’ve unzipped the Xpadder application, it helps to place it in its own folder. I prefer to put the folder on my desktop, but you can put it anywhere you like. You will also want to place Xpadder’s configuration settings and controller profiles in this folder. This will keep your Xpadder files organized so you can access them easily.
Setting up your controller
As I said earlier, Xpadder will work with almost any controller designed for PC. Still, some controllers are more compatible with Windows than others. In my opinion, wired Xbox 360 controllers are by far the best. Because they are designed by Microsoft, you won’t have to spend your time hunting for drivers, which is an unpleasant task at best.
Once you’ve plugged in your controller, configuring it in Xpadder is pretty easy.
- When you launch Xpadder, a small window opens with several options across the top.
- When setting up your controller for the first time, start by clicking on the controller icon in the top left.
- Once you click the icon, a drop-down menu appears.
- Click on “new,” and a window will appear with a shortlist that reads: “Image,” “Sticks,” “DPad,” “Buttons,” and “Triggers.”
Xpadder controller images will add a cool look to your Xpadder controller profile. Images may also help you differentiate between your devices should you decide to set up more than one controller. Xpadder will only support a certain image type. If you’re having trouble finding a supported image, you can download compatible images here.
Xpadder themes are pretty much interface wallpaper. While not necessary to use the software, Xpadder themes help you to really personalize your Xpadder experience. There are tons of Xpadder themes, many of which can be downloaded here. After you’ve downloaded a theme, installing it is easy.
- On the top-right side of the main Xpadder interface, there’s an icon that looks like a wrench.
- That’s the “Settings” button. Click it, and a drop-down menu appears. You then click on the “Theme” option.
- From there, you click on “Open” and choose your theme file. It’s as simple as that.
While adding images to your controller profiles is pretty neat, it definitely isn’t necessary. If you don’t care or can’t be bothered, feel free to skip right to the joysticks.
Configuring the joysticks
Configuring your controller’s joysticks is a piece of cake. Click on “Joysticks” in the drop-down menu. A window will appear to the right, and you will see two checkboxes that say “Enabled.”
- First, tick the box on the left. Xpadder will then prompt you to push up and then left on your left joystick.
- Repeat this process for the right joystick and voila: your joysticks are now calibrated.
You can now move on to the directional pad.
Configuring the directional pad
Configuring the directional pad, also known as the D-Pad, is also easy. Click on “DPad” in the drop-down menu and, just like with the joysticks, a menu will appear to the right. Tick the “Enabled” box and follow Xpadder’s prompts to enable the D-Pad.
Configuring your controller’s buttons is a little trickier than the joysticks or the D-Pad, but it’s still pretty easy. On the drop-down menu, click on “Buttons.” Again, a window will appear on the right.
- Now, press each button on your controller, and a small box will appear above. Though not required, it’s extremely helpful to move the buttons’ boxes to their relative position on the controller.
- You can also rename the buttons if you like, but this is also optional. Once you’ve pressed every button on your controller and moved them to their respective positions, you can move on to the triggers.
Trigger configuration is just like configuring the joysticks and D-Pad. Click on “Triggers” and tick the box that reads “Enabled.” Xpadder will then prompt you to hold the left trigger down and then the right. When this is done, your triggers are configured.
Just like that, your controller is configured. Click the green box on the bottom and you’ll be returned to the Xpadder main menu. Once there, you’ll want to save your controller profile. Otherwise, you’ll be forced to repeat the entire process. Save your controller profile by clicking on the controller icon in the top left and clicking “Save As.” Name the profile whatever you wish and save it to your Xpadder folder.
Now that your controller is configured, you’re ready to configure your buttons for whatever game you want to play. This might make me sound like I’m off my rocker, but I strongly advise you to get your pen and paper out of mothballs for this.
I’ve found that the easiest way to map your buttons is to open whatever game you want to play and finding the “controls” menu. Once you find the in-game menu with all the controls, you should write them all down on paper. This way, you won’t have to switch between your game and Xpadder constantly. Take my word for it: This will save you a ton of time and aggravation.
Once you’ve written out the game’s controls, you can start mapping your buttons. I usually start with movement controls, but you can start wherever you want. Let’s say, for example, that the game your playing has a classic WASD movement scheme. Let’s also assume you want to move your character with your controller’s left stick. Xpadder’s main menu now has your controller configured, but the buttons don’t do anything yet. Let’s fix that.
Clicking on any of the unmapped buttons will bring up an on-screen keyboard and mouse. From now on, we’ll refer to this as the “mapping keyboard.” Clicking on any button or mouse key will map it to whatever button you clicked. For example, if I click on my left joystick’s top button and then on the mapping keyboard’s “W” key, then pressing upon my joystick now mimics my keyboard’s “W” key.
I know what your thinking: Do I have to do this every time I want to play? The answer is “good God, no!” Once you’ve mapped all the buttons for your game, you will want to save the button profile to your Xpadder folder. The most logical thing to do is to name the profile after the game. This way, you can easily load each game’s button profile before playing.
Don’t be discouraged if your button profiles are a little wonky at first. It takes a bit of practice to get them just right for any given title. Once a profile is good and dialed in, though, you won’t be able to tell you’re not playing a console game.
I’ve always been a big believer in profiting from the hard work of others. In keeping with that tradition, I should point out that button profiles for many games already exist and can be downloaded here.
Advanced Xpadder features
You’ve conquered the basics. Now you’re wondering: Does Xpadder do anything else? Is there any way I can use it to gain some kind of edge? Yes, my friends, there most certainly is (evil laugh).
Once you’re comfortable mapping buttons and building button profiles, you can start enjoying some of Xpadder’s less-than-honorable advantages.
Have you ever played a first-person shooter that boasts a semi-auto rifle that fires as fast as you can push the button? Ever wished you could push the button faster? Now you can. For a good example, let’s assume you’re playing a game whose primary fire button is the right mouse button. Now let’s say you have mapped your controller’s right trigger to the primary fire button.
- By opening Xpadder and clicking on your right trigger (or any button on your profile), you can access advanced button features by clicking on the “Advanced” button in the bottom-right corner of the button mapping keyboard.
- In this menu, you would then click on “Turbo,” which brings up a corresponding menu to the right.
- In the “Turbo” menu for your right trigger, you would tick the “Enabled” box. Then you can manually adjust the speed of the turbo. Xpadder can allow you to “press” any button up to 50 times per second.
How do automatic pistols sound? With a little patience, Xpadder can help you dominate keyboard and mouse players in just about any game.
Do you ever get tired of holding down your run button? With toggle mode, those days are finally over. If you want a button to be constantly held down but don’t want to hold it down yourself, you can program Xpadder to toggle it.
- To do this, you will first click on whatever button you want to toggle in the Xpadder layout.
- Next, click on “Advanced” in the bottom-right of the mapping keyboard.
- Next, click “toggle” and tick the “Enabled” box. Now, whenever you press the button on your controller, it will be held down until you press it again. Handy, isn’t it?
In my opinion, the ability to create sequences is Xpadder’s coolest feature. Take any game that uses sequences. For a good example, let’s go with any “Mortal Kombat” game. The Mortal Kombat series has always had advanced button combinations. They are required for special moves and the most damaging combos. Even for the seasoned pro, these combinations can be hard to pull off. With Xpadder and a little patience, these combinations can be executed with one button!
Likewise, a lot of first-person shooters require you to cycle through your weapons in order to throw a grenade. With Xpadder, you can program one button to cycle to your grenades, throw one and immediately switch back to your primary weapon. This saves time and will definitely help keep you in the fight.
I won’t lie: programming sequences can be pretty tricky. To do it, you’ll need to select a button from the mapping keyboard and click on “Advanced.” From there, click the “Assignments” option. On the corresponding screen on the right, your sequence will run across the top from left to right. Getting your sequences perfect will take time and practice, but it’s definitely worth it.
Given its popularity, there are lots of support forums for Xpadder. One of the most popular can be found on Reddit. The good thing about overpopulation is no matter what problem you’re having, somebody else has already had it. Take advantage of Xpadder forums any time you get stuck.
I don’t think there’s a similar program that even comes close to being as good as Xpadder, but there are alternatives. Some of the most popular Xpadder alternatives include:
- Input Mapper
- Joystick Mapper
If you decide Xpadder isn’t for you, then you might be more comfortable with one of these alternatives. Being unfamiliar with most of them, though, I’m afraid I can’t recommend one.
Xpadder might have a small learning curve, but it’s worth it. It makes games not only more playable but can give you a huge edge. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this guide as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Please let me know what you think in the comments below and share it with anyone you think might benefit from it. Happy gaming!