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The holidays are all about love, family, goodwill…and expensive new toys. Whether you’ve just received a new console for yourself, or are getting it ready for a loved one, it’s not always obvious what you should do to get your new console ready to go as fast as you can, especially when different consoles offer different options.

We’ve got other guides if you’re looking to set up a PS5 or set up a Nintendo Switch, but here we’re going to give you some tips to get the most out of your new Xbox Series X/S.

Xbox Series X/S set up: Use HDMI 2.1 Cables

HDMI 2.1 cable

An HDMI 2.1 cable will let you play your games in 4K

If you’ve got a 4K TV and want to play your games in 4K, then you’re going to need the right cables. HDMI 2.1 is what you’re looking for. Thankfully, the Xbox Series X/S comes with one such cable, so make sure you’re using that one to connect the console to your TV instead of any other HDMI cable you might have laying around.

Xbox Series X/S set up: Use Xbox smartphone app while you wait

Xbox mobile app

The Xbox mobile app will let you set up your console while it installs updates.

When you boot your console up for the first time, it will immediately need to download and install various updates. This will take a while and can be annoying if you want to get on with set up, but never fear, as there is a workaround. While the console sorts itself out, you can complete the set up on the Xbox mobile app. Download it from whatever app store you use and select the “Set up a console” option on the home screen. It will give you a code you can use to connect your smartphone and console, at which point you can look through all the options you want.

Xbox Series X/S set up: Customize the home menu

Xbox Series X/S Home menu

You can customize most aspects of your home screen

If you’re not a fan of the default layout on the Xbox Series, you have complete freedom to change things around as you see fit. If you go onto the “View” menu, you’ll be able to reorder the apps you use most, including removing or adding the ones you specify. On top of that, you can change the themes. There is Light and Dark mode as you’d expect, but there is also Scheduled mode, which will alternate between the two depending on the time of day.

Xbox Series X/S set up: Turn off “instant on” to save energy

Xbox Series X/S Power mode and startup menu

Switch to energy-saving mode to cut down on the console's power usage.

If you like to manage your games, apps, and downloads remotely through the Xbox mobile app, then the “instant on” feature is great for the Xbox Series – it will boot the console up faster too. However, if you don’t use such a feature or you’re looking to save on power this winter, then go into the “Power mode and startup” menu and switch to the energy-saver mode instead.

Xbox Series X/S set up: Tweak your display settings

Xbox Series X/S display options menu

Make sure your display settings are appropriate for your TV.

While the default setup process is pretty good at tuning itself to your hardware, it’s always a good idea to jump into the display settings and make sure everything is just right before you start playing. Here you can enable things 4K resolution. Exactly what settings you should use depend on your TV, but if you’re not sure you can check the help options to see what your TV is and isn’t compatible with.

Xbox Series X/S set up: TV and A/V power options

Xbox Series X/S TV & A/V power options menu

You can make your Xbox turn the TV on with just the push of a button.

It’s common in the modern age for all of our devices to be connected, we expect that with the push of a button everything we need will spring into life. While some smart TVs can automatically detect when you turn a console on, not all of them do, but you can change that. In the options menu, you can select HDMI-CEC options where you can allow your Xbox to turn on and off other devices so you’ll only ever need one remote.

Xbox Series X/S set up: Digital assistant integration

Xbox Series X/S digital assistant setup menu

Digital assistants will let you use voice commands on your Xbox.

Sticking with the theme of everything working as one, if you have a smart home device like a Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, then you can link it directly to your Xbox. You can find these options in the “Devices and Connections” menu, where you’ll find step-by-step instructions for setting it up. Once you do, you’ll be able to turn your Xbox on or off, start or stop recordings, and pause games with voice commands.