When you hook a game controller up to your PC—whether it’s an Xbox controller, PlayStation controller, Steam controller, or something else—you can remap the buttons for individual Steam games however you want. Here’s how.
This feature began with the Steam controller and the PlayStation 4 controller, but a recent update allows you to remap buttons on any controller you want—including Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers. This support was added in the January 18, 2017 build of Steam. Click Steam > Check for Steam Client Updates in Steam to get the latest version if you don’t already have it.
The Steam controller also offers a bunch of extra button configuration features that other controllers don’t have—we’ll go through the basics here, but be sure to check out our full guide to setting up the Steam controller to see everything that it can do.
The Limitations of Xbox and Generic Controllers
This feature works similarly for all supported controller types. However, Steam Controllers and DualShock 4 controllers have one distinct advantage: if you use multiple Steam controllers or DualShock 4 controllers on the same PC, you can give them different button mappings. This isn’t true for Xbox 360, Xbox One controllers and other generic controllers—you have to give all those controllers the same mapping on any given PC.
This won’t matter most of the time. But, if you’re playing a multiplayer game with multiple people on the same PC, every player can’t have their own button settings unless you’re using Steam or PlayStation 4 controllers.
All Xinput controllers—including Xbox controllers—will share the same button mapping settings because they don’t provide a way to uniquely identify different controllers to Steam. So, when you adjust the button remapping settings for one Xinput controller, you’re adjusting them for all Xinput controllers on the system. You can still use different mappings for each game, you just can’t use different mappings for different controllers.
With that in mind, here’s how to remap the buttons on your gamepad through Steam.
Step One: Launch Big Picture Mode
Controller configuration settings are only available in Big Picture Mode. Valve assumes that, if you want to use a controller, you’ll use the TV-style full-screen interface. To access it, just click the controller-shaped “Big Picture Mode” icon at the top right corner of the Steam window.
Step Two: Enable Support for Other Gamepads
Steam only allows you to configure Steam Controllers by default. You’ll have to enable configuration support for other types of controllers if you want to tweak them.
Select the gear-shaped “Settings” icon at the top right corner of the screen using your mouse or controller.
Then, select “Controller Configuration” on the Settings screen.
Enable the “PS4 Configuration Support”, “Xbox Configuration Support”, and “Generic Gamepad Configuration Support” to enable support for other types of controllers.
If these options aren’t enabled, you’ll still be able to use the controller in the interface and games. You just won’t be able to configure the controller and remap its buttons.
Steam also displays a list of your connected controllers here. If you don’t see a controller here, it isn’t connected properly. If it’s a wireless controller, it may not be powered on.
You’ll be prompted to disconnect and reconnect any connected controllers after enabling this option. You’ll need to reconnect the controller before the configuration options appear.
When you reconnect the controller, you’ll be prompted to name it. This name will appear in Steam’s interface to uniquely identify the controller.
Step Three: Remap Your Controller’s Buttons
Now, head to the “Library” section in Big Picture Mode and select a game you want to remap the controller’s buttons for.
Select “Manage Game” and then select “Controller Configuration”.
You’ll see Steam’s complex button-remapping screen. Whatever type of controller you have, you can use this interface to link the controller’s buttons to different mouse and keyboard events. For example, you could configure the Steam Controller’s touchpad or the joystick on another type of gamepad to function as a mouse, allowing you to use your controller in a game that was never designed to support controllers.
Other people have already done the work of creating controller profiles that allow you to use a Steam Controller or other types of controllers in different games. To download a pre-made profile, select “Browse Configs” at the bottom of the window.
You’ll see different available layouts depending on which types of controller you’re using. For example, different configurations are available for the Steam Controller than the Xbox 360 controller. These types of controllers have different buttons and features, so configurations can’t be transferred between them.
To manually remap a group of buttons or single buttons, select it on the configuration screen. For example, if you wanted to remap the Y button on an Xbox controller, you’d select the pane with the Y button at the bottom right corner of the screen.
Steam offers many different options for configuring groups of buttons, joysticks, touchpads, or directional pads. For example, you could make the four buttons on the Xbox 360 controller function as a joystick, scroll wheel, or mouse. But, if you just wanted to change what the Y button does, you’d just select the “Y” button here.
Steam allows you to select any keyboard or mouse button the controller button you selected should function as. You can even use multi-button keyboard shortcuts.
The button remapping you choose will appear on the configuration screen. In the screenshot below, we’ve set the Y button to function as the “E” key in this game.
Steam will remember the button-remapping settings you provide and use them when you play that specific game. You can set different button-remapping settings for different games.
When doing something more advanced than remapping a single button, you’ll see quite a few options. For example, when remapping one of the Steam controller’s touchpads to function as a mouse, you’ll be able to adjust the sensitivity of the mouse and even the intensity of the haptic feedback the touchpad provides.
You can also tweak your controller configuration settings while playing a game. Open the Steam overlay—for example, by pressing Shift+Tab or pressing the Steam, Xbox, or PlayStation button on the center of your controller—and select the “Controller Configuration” option. This option will only be available if you launched the game from within Big Picture Mode.
The sheer amount of options available for configuring your Steam controller can be daunting. Many games should play okay with one of the default templates, however. And, as more people use these configuration options for new games, you should see more configs for any given game. But those tweaks will always be there for you to use if you want them.