Xpadder: Use Your PC Gamepad Instead of Keyboard

xpadder-header.jpg

Xpadder is a small and simple Windows application that lets you make the most of your gamepad – and it is free!Xpadder has several features. The most basic is that it lets you map keys to your gamepad buttons. I decided to make a tutorial here to connect with the emulator guides. Some obvious uses of Xpadder in this context:

  • Some emulators that don’t support gamepads natively
  • Some emulators that don’t let you redefine the gamepad commands freely (use keys, and remap them any way you want)
  • Use it to map function keys from emulators to extra buttons (e.g. you can map load and save state to shoulder buttons in Genesis games for “quick load” and “quick save”)

Xpadder also lets you map mouse commands to your pad, or map sequences of keys to a single button press. I leave it to you to devise your own uses for these. Personally I’ve been happy to use solely the basic feature; I have used it a lot with freeware windows games that typically don’t support pads natively, and with WinUAE, the Amiga emulator – many Amiga games use keys as the standard joysticks only had one button, and it’s very inconvenient to access these keys when using gamepads (Amiga joysticks were often 1-handed, while pads are 2-handed).

The tutorial

Step 1: Download Xpadder

Go to the official site in the download section, or click here [if we host it] to get it instantly.

Step 2: Extract Xpadder

It’s very simple. Just unzip it where you want to keep the program. It is a single, small file, no installation required. I advise you to make a folder for it though, so you can easily keep your saved profiles.

Step 3: Setup your gamepad(s) – the layout

Run Xpadder by double clicking on it.

Xpadder

You need to configure your gamepad first. Click “New” to do so; you are taken to the Controller editor:

Controller Editor

If you want, you can add a picture in the profile – in the “Image” tab, click open and choose what you want:

Controller Image

There are some such images already prepared in Xpadder’s official site, in the Images section (you might want to check if your gamepad is already there – apparently Xpadder treats that pink color as transparent).

Go into the next tabs to configure the thumbsticks. Unfortunately I cannot test this as my gamepad is digital only. It should be almost as easy as doing the d-pad buttons, in the “Direction pad” tab:

Digital pad

Just check the “Enabled” box (as in the image) and the program will detect and prompt you to press the directions in turn.

You may want to move the directional pad to another location (particularly if you have used an image) – just drag and drop:

Drag and drop to where you want buttons to be

Adding buttons is also very simple. Pressing the buttons on your gamepad makes them appear in the layout:

Adding buttons

This should make it clear why it is helpful to reproduce the layout of your pad – although you can remind yourself what corresponds to each pad button by pressing it on the pad (this is why the last button on the right is different in the image above). Like with the d-pad, you can drag and drop each “button” in the layout at your will:

Buttons laid out

If your pad has analog trigger buttons, the last tab is for that. My pad only has digital triggers, so I needed to add them already (the two top squares).

You can repeat the process for other pads, if you have them, and save to separate controller profiles, switching between them as desired.

Step 4: Setup your profile(s)

With a layout open (See Step 3), assign keys to your pad’s buttons by clicking the corresponding “button” in the profile (e.g. the “up” of the d-pad); an on-screen keyboard pops up:

On screen keyboard

Then, just press the desired key (e.g. the “up” cursor key) on the on-screen keyboard:

Up key assigned to up on the pad

You can remove assignments by clicking the large “NONE” key of the on-screen keyboard:

Removing assignments

The right-most part of the on-screen “keyboard” serves to assign mouse movements to your gamepad – in exactly the same way.

Step 5: Save the assignments for ease of use

Done with all the assignments for a particular profile? Save the profile so you don’t have to do it next time:

Saving profiles

To access them again you can go to “Open” in the menu shown above. You can also quickly and easily swap between profiles you have prepared by clicking the profile line:

Changing profiles quickly

That is pretty much all I wanted to cover with this tutorial. Go download and try this wonderful application (if you really like it, you can drop an e-mail thanking the creator at the official website).

As usual, share your opinions or ask questions in the comments section, or in the forums.

Ivo.

89 Comments

  1. fastbilly1 says:

    Or if you need one that uses less system resources, JoytoKey has never buckled up on me.

  2. Ivo says:

    A good suggestion, fastbilly1; I didn’t know of that program – Xpadder seems more user friendly, but I can see how JoytoKey will be better for weaker PCs – thanks for your comment.

  3. SovietSniper says:

    most emulators i know (and use) support gamepads natively, so it must be some really rare emulator to make this an useful tool, now i do admit that one of the things i most use in emulators is instant load/save and most emulators have already defined the load/save state keys (you cannot change them and consequently you cant configure them to your gamepad)…. so every time i need to press some key in the keyboard…. i am downloading and testing this tool right now to see if i can configure the load/save buttons to the triggers of my gamepad….. keep going with the excellent articles racketboy.

  4. racketboy says:

    Most of the ones that don’t support gamepads are newer ones such as NullDC (Dreamcast).

    But keep in mind, this is also used for PC games as well.

    And like you said, SovietSniper, it is handy to configure the gamepads for other tasks. This is crucial for people like me that have a dedicated emulation box hooked up to my TV. In that case, I don’t have a keyboard available at all. I’m using only a wireless gamepad and my Windows MCE remote.

    Great work, Ivo!

  5. fastbilly1 says:

    Ive used them to make foot buttons for generic task in the past. Like ctrl-alt-escape, left mouse click, alt-F4, etc. It makes dualboxing without macros so much easier. Granted I am planning on getting a sizable trackball so I can have less time off of the keyboard at work.

  6. Interesting, but only for the few pads that don’t already support keyboard emulation. The Sidewinder, Logitech and Gravis software all allow you to map keys to the buttons.

    But i have seen some decent-looking generic brand pads out there, and if they don’t include software for keymapping, a program like this would indeed be useful. I personally don’t use my PC gamepad that often (the only PC games i usually get are those that i feel should be played with keyboard+mouse rather than pad), but when i do, i can’t be without mapped buttons.

  7. Gah, lost part of my post!

    @SovietSniper: The save/load state functions of emulators are a perfect example of the usefulness of such tools. The only way i play emulators are with pads, and i don’t use the native support anymore, specifically for that reason. On NES emulators, for example, i map save and load to the otherwise unused trigger buttons. Incredibly convenient.

  8. Ivo says:

    Thanks for your comments Saurian; I have an old Sidewinder. It didn’t come with software and the one you can get from the web doesn’t work with XP (or maybe I’m doing something wrong?). I’m aware the the gamepads from the top companies come with their own software, I’m not familiar with them – maybe some of Xpadder’s more advanced features are still useful even if you have such software (I don’t know the feature list of those programs, so I can’t say for sure)?

  9. nightmareci says:

    I’ve always used JoyToKey for the off-occasion I need this functionality (as it was suggested in the readme for Red Faction, one of my favorite PC FPS games), and JoyToKey has every function I’m likely to ever need. I guess if this is more user friendly than JoyToKey, it has its purpose for other users, but not on my computer. Also, if JoyToKey doesn’t support Vista but this program does, then this program really has a reason to exist (although I’d never use Vista on my own computers, for many reasons).

    I mostly use emulators on my MacBook Pro, and pretty much every single emulator on Mac has support for HID gamepads, so this type of program isn’t necessary, but there is an option for Macs in the form of USB Overdrive, which I’ve used and works, but I have no need for it (I was only using it for Cave Story Mac, until I discovered how to get the built-in gamepad support to work, so I threw out the shareware program). There are also some options on Linux, which I’ve read about, but just like with my Mac, I have no need for it currently (I game on all three platforms, believe it or not).

  10. Taylor says:

    dude, this is a great tutorial, but there is one thing.I use xpadder v.4.6 and i dont know how to load the xpadder into the mame arcade emu. could someone help me w/ this. i have mapped out all the keys and it creates an icon of a controller arcade.xpadder

  11. erik says:

    WinUAE natively supports USB gamepads and the like, but personally I use Xpadder as I often want to map keys to spare buttons – a significant drawback of the Amiga

  12. Paul says:

    Can someone help me load my controller so i can play call of duty 4 on my laptop. I can use my keyboard but prefer to use a controller for this game if this is possible thanks guys n girls, xxxxxxxxxxxx

  13. sohail says:

    i would also like to use my logitech tunble pad 2 with COD4 can anyone confirm that it works. plz

  14. Local says:

    I’ve moved over from Joytokey, which I’ve used for an age, to xpadder permanently.
    The extra features are great and have allowed me to customise some games exactly how I wanted to play them whereas I thought I’d never be able to.
    The hotswitching between profiles is a Godsend, I don’t know why nobody thought of it before.
    It’s also great for other (Boring) everyday tasks, my gamepad is set up for reading books too, even macro’s are easy to create on here.

    I recommend everyone to try this for their games, even the ones that do have joypad support, it’s surprising what you can achieve.

  15. Malenkiy says:

    Hi.
    Help me to recognize the game, that we see at Dell monitor. Upside of this site.
    Thx.

  16. Dale Hough says:

    The key board image does not come up so i can not set my keys to match the game paddle.

  17. DamionKutaeff says:

    Hello everybody, my name is Damion, and I’m glad to join your conmunity,
    and wish to assit as far as possible.

  18. shabakeh says:

    hi dear

    i installed xpadder.it amazed me.i played crysis well.but after shut down my system and reboot when i wanted to play again my profile is broken and didnt work and i have to provide it again.why?

  19. Fran says:

    Does anybody know if xpadder works with World of Warcraft?

  20. billat says:

    why can i not find xpadder to uninstall with windows uninstaller or revo uninstaler,and and also why is the cursor rising to the top of the page.

  21. carlo says:

    I tried this with my logitech on Call of Duty 4, but it just messed up.
    Can ne1 help?

    Thanx

  22. Sal says:

    Ok so this should the setting up of a gamepad… but which game pad is better? There is this cordless one from logitech that I really like but I dont want to get it if it’s not gonna work… so which gamepad do you think works best for nullDC (the only game I got nullDC is for Marvel vs Capcom so keep that in mind). Thanks to anyone that can help.

  23. snake2332 says:

    I used to use Pinnacle Game Profiler but I lost my reg info the last time I reinstalled WinXP. I might pay money for it again because it’s handy, but anyway, onto my real question:

    What is a good NES emulator for Windows that supports all 8 directions on the XBOX 360 controller? I hate how all the NES emulators I’ve tried only set up the 4 directions, so playing games such as Tetris or Mario 3, the lack of being able to use down-left and down-right is apparent and very annoying. I think in Super Mario 1, it makes it harder to slide under the bricks in level 1-2. Normally it’s easy to slide, but since you can’t push down-right, it makes it almost impossible. I swear I had an emulator for NES that let you set 8 directions instead of 4 (like RockNES, Nesticle, Nestopia, & JNes)?

  24. Roswellia says:

    OH MY GOD! I am looking for somrthing like this for sucha long long time – this is ONE MORE reason to stay on XP-SP2… :) – everyhting works GREAT – this saved me from buying a40 bucks Bluetooth remote… GREAT!!!

  25. Frizkie says:

    Great job. Works awesome, I’m glad there’s mouse support.

  26. Jin Bob says:

    Xpadder is amazing… I can play Doom 3, Half-Life 2 and Prey (among others) with my dual-analog gamepad and it works great!!

  27. cod4player says:

    hey

    im thinking about useing Xpadder but am alittle afraid of messing up my comp or it just not working. and will it also work with cod4 i have a logitech rumble pad 2. thx guys

  28. Macuser says:

    Hi, can anyone suggest a good NES emulator for Mac that has native gamepad support? Or otherwise a good gamepad mapping program that works with Mac OS X? I have had problems with both USB Overdrive and Gamepad Companion (though I could just be doing it wrong). Please help!!

  29. cod4player says:

    hi

    me again just hoping someone can give an answer to my question. ivo im alittile confused about how to work it but i think im going to give it a try. any pointers i should no that might help me make this a little easier

  30. Ben Hickey says:

    I’ve been using ControllerMate. It has a limit for how many buttons you can format to other buttons without paying, but it gives you enough buttons to do NES and gameboy just fine.

  31. totalz says:

    This is the 1st time I try Xpadder, for Dead Space, which seems to work pretty fine at 1st. I mapped the mouse movement to one of the analog stick. Its movement works fine in game’s menu, but during game play, it becomes up-down-left-right!!! Any work around??

  32. ps3mandem says:

    i was using the xpadder to try an configure a ps3 controller but for some reason it thinks that when i map ou tthe right analog stick im always looking right?! wtf

  33. koko-goal says:

    guys i wanna play half-life 1 pc version with this tool..i have logitech cordless rumblepad 2………need help here..

  34. Ben says:

    How do I get this off my computer?! I searched for it on my comp and there are tons of xpadder things. I want it off my computer (don’t care if those don’t matter) Is there anyway short of highlighting everything and deleting it?

  35. richard bufton says:

    I have a logitec chillstream gamepad that i want to use with Call of Duty 5. Will this software work with this game/controller for my vista operating laptop?

  36. Marco says:

    Bien el tutorial, pude configurar mi gamepad Logitech para jugar el Super TUX :)

  37. Fett says:

    How can I assign two keyboard keys to 1 button on my gamepad? Like if I just tap the button my gamepad it will register the C key but if I hold the button it will register the ctrl key? Is this possible? Thanks.

  38. orey says:

    how the hell do i get it out of my computer???? tried it, liked it, but now im done with it and want it out of my system.

  39. Z says:

    Hello this is an easy setup thanks. this worked fine for aoc for pc. and for just moving around my comp. but when i try it for eq2 (everquest2) and i click on program it wont work what must i do ? thanks

  40. Zach says:

    I normally do not take the time to write or post a comment but I wanted to say thank you so much for placing this tutorial online. I have to evaluate 800+ websites with a system of 1-5 in exell (for example navagation 5 site search 3, etc) and my hands were hurting using the keyboard. This will surely increase my productivity!

  41. mike says:

    For some reason xpadder like turns off or something when i plaly Crossfire… really aggervating

  42. melvlok says:

    Hi all,
    don’t seem to be able to configure my belkin n52te with xpadder.
    Is it even possible?

    Appreciate all helps.

  43. sy says:

    hello all
    i’m a complete noob and can’t access the xpadder how to guide because of a website editor. as soon as you finish a profile and save, what do you do after to use that profile in the game?

  44. mcduke says:

    I’ve actually took apart a microsoft gamepad and made 2 foot pedals with it. I wanted to be able to use one footpedal to control in game voice chat and use the other one for the sprint/steady sniper scope in COD4 and COD5. It simply makes it easier when I don’t have to try and use my fingers for all the different things you can do in those games. It actually worked very well for many months, but for some reason cod4 stopped recognizing it (but it still worked for cod5). Now it’s stopped working in cod5. When I test it out just on the windows desktop it works fine. But once I start either of the cod games now, the games don’t recognized xpadder. Anyone have any idea why. Could it have something to do with punkbuster?

  45. archery says:

    I have a similar question that most users have had. After one sets up a profile (and so on), how do get this to work during the gameplay?
    It’s kinda funny actually. The mouse emulation works during game play… but nothing else. Anybody have any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    archery

  46. Alex says:

    Hi everyone.

    I have downloaded this xpadder, mapped all the buttons accordingly to my 360 wired controller, but I cannot get the games to detect the Xpadder. The games detect my controller when its plugged in, but it does not detect my xpadder profile’s customized controls. The games I’ve tried are GTA San Andreas and Vice City.

    Anny help would be greatly appreciated.

  47. Tim Mckeever says:

    Hey everyone

    im looking to play cod4 with my game pad but its not compatible
    this app seems to have solved this problem HOWEVER
    im using a mac
    so
    was wondering whether any1 knows of an app similar to this but for mac??

    thanks

  48. ifarted says:

    i tryed to play with my xbox 360 controller on crossfire and wen i do it just goes of any help?!/

  49. Cookie says:

    Brill post!!! Thanks!!!!

  50. jwalk says:

    I have been playing pc games since the 80s.
    controller support is non existent in most games
    and software support is almost non existent
    from the manufacturers like Logitech.

    I learned joy to key, but it took me awhile.
    Xpadder is instant win.

    So far all the FPS i have tried work. I also play
    wow with the same controller.
    FPS, NASCAR, NFL, WoW,
    All require intense control in combat.
    Keyboards are old school, I’m glad
    theres finally someone on our side.

    jw
    Dallas, TX

  51. C says:

    http://allaboutme.webnode.com/xpadder/

    check this out, it’s a bunch of profiles I created and uploaded myself. I bet someone will find them useful.

    I posted my uploads on gamespot and they banned me for spam!?? This is useful and I’m trying to be nice. What a bunch of jerks.

  52. Sukun2009 says:

    Thank you! u help me a lot :)

  53. Chris says:

    I have news for you. Xpadder isn’t free unless you download it from a torrent.

  54. Ivo says:

    Chris:
    at the date the guide was written every version of it was free, and versions up to 5.3 are still free. The existence of paid versions isn’t exactly news either as that started over a year ago as far as I’m aware.

  55. James says:

    not free…

  56. Smegmah says:

    Xpadder is free. google Xpadder 5.3 its the latest free version.

  57. Keyblade281 says:

    I’m having a problem.
    When I bring up Xpadder no menu icons show up.
    please help

  58. CJ says:

    Works like a charm, especially if you take your time and set it up thoughtfully.
    Thanks everyone.

  59. soni price says:

    hi, im Soni Price and i got ANSWERS for all u guys asking dumb questions,
    i will tell you this first : YES YOU CAN USE XPADDER FOR ANY CALL OF DUTY AND OTHER GAMES! My cousin plays mw2 with it and it works fine.
    MOST of you ask questions that are ALREADY ANSWERED in the tutorial so please read it carefully.
    he said that u dont install xpadder so u cant find it in your software registery, so just delete the files when u wanna delete it, those little things u see are just shirtcuts, so dont worry it will not eat your pc.
    NEXT: i have logitech controllers, but you can choose xbox settings in the xpadder cuz they have same buttons just take a look at both controllers, you can find pics in google pictures.
    If u still have questions THERE ARE TONS OF XPADDER TUTORIALS ALSO ON YOUTUBE AND OTHER SITES!
    also please check out my website thank you
    sorry if there are mistakes im on my phone -_-

  60. Kevin says:

    I also wanted to let people know, the games that wont recognize Xpadder,(even though you’ve tried it with other games) are games with anti-hacking software.

    If anyone finds a way around this obstacle please let me know.

  61. mike says:

    ok, got my mapping layout complete, how do i apply this in the game???? there is no option in cod 4 modern warfare for a controller, now this is the first cod 4 not modern warfare 2, i am in iraq so i can’t run out to the computer store for help, lol please help dieing to play!

  62. brodie says:

    @mike

    You don’t have to do anything inside CoD to use your controller. Just set up the profile the way you want it and load the game. I’ve tried xpadder with several games, and none have required me to change anything in the game itself (although I have changed keybindings to make things easier).

  63. Bruno says:

    When I use it slows down it blocks
    what to do

  64. Where is the freeware version of a similar software program for the rest of us out there that don’t want to pay money for simple software code that should be free. Anyone know of a freeware program that does the same thing please inform me.

  65. Shadowroy64 says:

    JoytoPlay doesnt have dual analog. Im so trying this!
    ~Next comment by me will be feedback~

  66. Shadowroy64 says:

    Wow, this really works for all of my games. One question though- I want to be able to SIMULTANEOUSLY press buttons and Joytokey and Xpadder do not have it avalable. How do I do so then?
    (Example, dragging items from one place to the next)

  67. cookie says:

    can you make a layout for each game so if i made one for fifa and i was playin it then i decide i want to play cod could i just make more than 1 layout one for cod one for fifa and enable the layout i need

  68. Jason says:

    Or, you can have us map the controls. You just pick and play. We support over ten controllers and are increasing as they arrive. Map your own or use one of ours, your choice.

  69. Jason says:

    Joystixpro.com

  70. Andrew says:

    I have been trying to get a controller program to work with world of warcraft. This supposedly works with wow but mine is not. I have my controller working and it works outside the game, but as soon as my mouse goes over wow it doesn’t work. Please for the love of God can someone tell me how to get this to work with World of Warcraft?

  71. Andrew says:

    Never mind. I figured it out. If anyone has trouble getting it to work with World of Warcraft, make sure you DO NOT run WoW as administrator.

  72. JP says:

    Good guide, thanx

  73. prince says:

    do i need an emulator b4 i can use xpadder

  74. Akash says:

    Xpadder is awesome. I have been using it for an year now and it has never failed me. I use it for regular windows functions and playing guild wars. It makes things much convenient than typing on my laptop keyboard. I even use it to enter passwords where ever needed.

    Ivo I hope you also add the functionality, wherein I can add 2 different functions to 2 keys on my gamepad, and a 3rd function for when I press both the keys simultaneously. (and I am not talking abt. creating different sets and using the set selector)

  75. Keith says:

    I paid 2 time online for xpadder and it still won’t work with my
    X box 360. I love to get it working but I not buying it again.

  76. Shaun says:

    I tried to use JoyToKey with a Speedlink Strike gamepad to play DOOM 3. Ihave configured the buttons (I think), but it still wont work?
    Any Hints?

  77. Have you learnt exactly where i can find a cheap ps3, im on
    a budget and my daughter birthday is next month.

  78. xpadder says:

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    nice funny data too.

  79. Hello my family member! I wish to say that this post is awesome, nice written and
    include almost all vital infos. I’d like to look extra posts like this .

  80. shaun says:

    Hey dudes – is there a version of Xpadder for Windows 8.1? i cant get it to work because of incompatible software

    Cheers