Person holding a Sony PlayStation Dualshock Controller

If you have a Sony PlayStation 5 and several PlayStation 4 controllers sitting around, you might be wondering: Can I use a DualShock 4 with a PS5? The answer is yes—with a big caveat. We’ll explore the options.

The DualShock 4 Only Works with PS4 Games on PS5

Sony lets you pair a PS4 controller to your PS5, but you can only use it to play PlayStation 4 games locally on the console itself.

To play PS5 games, you’ll need to use a PlayStation 5 DualSense controller. If you try to do otherwise, you’ll see a message that says “Can’t use the DUALSHOCK 4 wireless controller to play PS5 games.”

The "Can't use the DUALSHOCK 4 wireless controller to play PS5 games" message on a PS5.

In its Ultimate PS5 FAQ, Sony says, “PS5 games will require use of the DualSense wireless controller, as they have been designed to take advantage of its immersive new features.”

There is a workaround though. If you use Remote Play to play your PS5 games streaming through another device (such as an Apple TV), you can play PS5 games with a DualShock 4 that is linked to the streaming device.

RELATED: How to Connect a PS4 Controller to Apple TV

How to Pair a DualShock 4 with a PlayStation 5

The easiest way to pair your PS4 controller with your PS5 is by using a USB cable. Find a Micro-USB cable and plug one end into the DualShock 4 and the other end into a USB-A jack on your PS5.

Plug a USB cable into the back of your DualShock 4 PS4 controller.

Press the PlayStation button on the DualShock 4 once, and it will power on and link up to your PS5 automatically. After that (as long as the controller has enough charge), you can unplug the USB cable and use the DualShock 4 wirelessly.

Pretty easy!

If you want to pair your DualShock 4 wirelessly instead, power up your PS5 and navigate to Settings > General > Bluetooth Accessories (using your PS5 controller).

Select General > Bluetooth Accessories

Next, put your DualShock 4 into pairing mode. To do so, make sure the PS4 controller is turned off completely. Then press and hold the Share button and the PlayStation button on the DualShock 4 until the light on the top of the controller begins to flash rapidly.

When powered off, hold Share and the PlayStation together until the light flashes to put the DualShock 4 into pairing mode.

When you see “DualShock 4” appear in the list of Bluetooth devices, highlight it with your PS5 controller and press X.

Highlight "DUALSHOCK 4" in the list and press X.

Your PS4 controller will pair with your PS5, and you’ll be able to use it to play PS4 games. Just remember that you’ll need to use a PS5 controller for PS5 games. Have fun!

PlayStation 5 DualSense Wireless Controller

To play PlayStation 5 games, you'll need a PlayStation 5 controller.

RELATED: How to Use the PlayStation 4's DualShock 4 Controller for PC Gaming

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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