Sony’s DualShock 4 controller is actually a standard gamepad, and you can connect it to any PC with a USB cable, standard Bluetooth, or Sony’s official wireless USB adapter. It will work in a variety of games, too, since Steam now offers official support for DualShock 4 controllers.
Once you’ve connected a PS4 controller to a PC, you can also take advantage of PS4 Remote Play to stream games from your own PS4 console, or Sony’s PlayStation Now service to stream games from Sony’s servers.
Microsoft’s Xbox controllers arguably 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, 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.
How to Connect a PS4 Controller to a PC
You can 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. It will “just work” without any additional setup.
If you want to connect your controller wirelessly, Sony recommends you purchase the official DualShock 4 USB Wireless Adapter ($15).
To wirelessly connect your PlayStation 4 controller with a PC without any additional hardware, you’ll need to put it in Bluetooth pairing mode. Many people report the controller’s Bluetooth connection can be a bit flaky on PC, depending on your Bluetooth chipset and drivers, so you may want to use a wired connection or an official wireless adapter if you experience problems.
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Here’s how to pair your controller wirelessly over Bluetooth, if you prefer: 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 a Steam Controller With a PS4 Controller
Valve now offers official support for the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 controller. It will function similarly to a Steam Controller, with support for the controller’s touchpad and other features. Games that support the Steam Controller will work with the PS4 controller, and you can also create profiles to emulate keyboard and mouse events with the PS4 controller in various games that don’t offer official support for the controller. In other words, it works just like the Steam Controller.
To enable this feature, open Big Picture Mode in Steam by clicking the controller-shaped “Big Picture Mode” icon at the top-right corner of the Steam window.
Head to Settings > Controller Settings in Big Picture Mode and enable the “PS4 Configuration Support” option.
RELATED: How to Remap Xbox, PlayStation, and Other Controller Buttons in Steam
Reconnect any connected PS4 controllers and they’ll appear here. You can select them and configure them in the same way you’d configure a Steam Controller.
For example, you can select a game in Big Picture mode and select Manage Game > Controller Configuration to configure how your PS4 controller behaves in the game. This screen provides a lot of options for remapping what your controller’s buttons do in a game.
How to Emulate an Xbox Controller With a PS4 Controller
Xbox 360 controllers—and 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
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