How-To Geek

How to Use the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 Controller for PC Gaming


Sony’s DualShock 4 controller is actually just a standard Bluetooth gamepad. You can pair it with any Bluetooth-enabled PC and use the DualShock 4 controller to play games. Here’s how.

Because the DualShock 4 controller is Bluetooth, you may not even need any extra hardware to get up and running. Heck, even Microsoft’s wireless Xbox controllers require a special adapter.

That said, Microsoft’s Xbox controllers still work best for PC gaming, as they’re officially supported by Microsoft and many games support Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers in particular. If you’re buying a controller for PC gaming instead of just using one you have lying around, you should probably get an Xbox controller. But if you already have a PlayStation 4 controller lying around, here’s how to set it up with your PC.

Pair Your Controller Wirelessly or Plug It In

When you connect your DualShock 4 controller to a PlayStation 4 via a USB cable, the controller automatically pairs with the console. To connect your PlayStation 4 controller with a PC, you’ll need to put it in Bluetooth pairing mode.

If your PC doesn’t have Bluetooth, you could also just connect the controller to your computer with the included USB-to-micro-USB cable–the same one you use with your PS4–and use it as a wired controller. You should also connect the controller with a wired connection if you’re experiencing wireless connection issues. Many people report the controller’s Bluetooth connection can be a bit flaky on PC, depending on your Bluetooth chipset and drivers.

First, turn off the controller if it’s already on. If it’s on and paired with a PlayStation 4, hold down the “PlayStation” button and then select the “Log Out of PS4” or “Enter Rest Mode” option in the menu that appears on your TV. The controller will turn off.

Next, put the controller into pairing mode. Press the “PlayStation” button and the “Share” button on the controller at the same time, and hold them down. The light bar on the controller will start flashing. This indicates the controller is in Bluetooth pairing mode.

Finally, connect the controller to your computer like you’d pair any Bluetooth device. On Windows 10, you can open the Settings app from the Start menu, select “Devices,” and then select “Bluetooth.” The DualShock 4 will appear here as a “Wireless Controller” if it’s in pairing mode. You can then select it and click “Pair” to pair it with your computer.

On Windows 7, 8, and 10, you can open the Devices and Printers pane in the Control Panel. Click “Add a device” and the controller will appear as a nearby Bluetooth device. It will also appear in the list of connected devices here as a “Wireless Controller” once it’s connected.

How to Emulate Your PlayStation 4 Controller as an Xbox Controller

Xbox 360 controllers–and now Xbox One controllers, now that Microsoft has finally released the necessary drivers–are usually best for PC gaming. Many PC games are designed specifically to work with Xbox controllers. Many games also require “xinput” input, which Xbox controllers provide, but other types of controllers don’t.

If you’re using a a PS4 controller with an emulator to play older games, you could easily configure the emulator to accept the controller’s button presses. If you’re using it with a PC game, you may need to open the PC game’s control-settings and configure the game to respond to the controller’s inputs.

But for games that expect an Xbox controller, you may have to emulate xinput. This will convert the PS4 controller’s input to the equivalent Xbox button presses, and games will “just work” with the DualShock 4 just like they would with an Xbox controller. They’ll just think you’re just using an Xbox controller.

Sony hasn’t released any official drivers for the PlayStation 4 controller on a PC, so there’s no official way to do this. There are tools for emulating xinput with a PS4, but they’re unofficial, third-party tools developed by the community.

We recommend the free Input Mapper program. This tool will also helpfully show the battery level of your controller, which is something you won’t normally be able to see in Windows.

Download and install Input Mapper to your PC. Open it up, and click the controller-shaped “Profiles” icon at the left side of the Input Mapper window, and then click “New Profile.” The “Emulate virtual controller” option will be on by default, and your PS4 controller should now be functioning as an Xbox controller. You shouldn’t have to change any other settings.

Open a game that expects an Xbox controller, and it should just work. Any in-game prompts will still tell you to use the Xbox’s Y, B, A, and X buttons instead of the triangle, circle, square, and X buttons, but those buttons will function as the equivalent Xbox ones.

The xinput emulation only works when InputMapper is open, so you’ll need to leave this program open when playing games. However, if you click the “Settings” icon at the left side of the program, you can tell it to “Start With Windows” and “Start Minimized”. It will then start when you boot your PC and run in the background, so you’ll always be ready to go.

InputMapper also does other useful things, such as enabling the “Trackpad as mouse” feature, which allows you to use the controller’s trackpad as a mouse in Windows. You can even customize the color of the controller’s lightbar and configure macros.

You’ll need to pair your the controller with your PlayStation 4 before you can use it with your console again. To do so, just plug the controller back into your PS4 using its USB cable. It’ll automatically pair with your console. To make it work with your PC afterwards, you’ll need to pair it with your PC again from the Bluetooth window. It’s a small hassle, but worth it to easily use your gamepad on multiple devices.

Image Credit: Farley Santos on Flickr, Danny Willyrex at Wikipedia

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 01/27/16

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