There are a lot of people who do not limit their gaming experience to a single platform. Some prefer PCs while only using a console for exclusives, and others use the PC only for indie titles while running all the demanding AAA games on a more affordable machine.
Whatever the case may be with you, one thing is certain – you will want to use your controller on the PC as well. This is hardly a problem for Xbox One owners since their controllers have plug and play compatibility with Windows.
But what about the PlayStation 4?
Indeed, the DualShock 3 was barely used on PC solely because there were no official drivers released. As for the DualShock 4, there are also no official drivers released so far and it is unlikely that they ever will since the era of the PS4 is nearing its end.
It is not all hopeless though! There are still several ways to connect a PlayStation 4 controller to your PC or Mac, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
So, let’s see what they are, shall we?
Third Party Software
As said above, the DualShock 3 controller never became popular on PC because people always had to turn to third-party software. This was hardly a problem in itself, but the main issue was the lack of any reliable software of this kind. They were mostly buggy, prone to crashing, or were borderline malware.
DualShock 4 users, luckily, have DS4Windows.
This is a neat and useful little program that allows Windows to recognize a DualShock 4 controller by emulating an Xbox 360 controller. That, however, does not mean it excludes the features present in the former which are lacking in the latter – it still allows the use of the touchpad and the gyroscope, both of which work flawlessly.
Overall, it is easy to install and offers an extremely wide range of customization options, including the possibility to set up multiple profiles for different purposes.
There is one downside, though – the controller’s speaker and audio jack will only relay audio via a wired connection. Furthermore, Mac users will have to pass on DS4Windows since it is, as the name implies, is only available for Windows.
- Easy installation
- Highly customizable
- Stable and responsive
- No speaker/headphone jack functionality via Bluetooth
- Not available on Mac
A few years back, Valve officially implemented DualShock 4 support into the Steam client. This was great news for Steam users i.e. the vast majority of the PC gaming community.
All you need to do is connect the controller to your PC/Mac while Steam is running and it will automatically recognize it. From there, you can access a number of customization options inside the Big Picture mode.
Functionally, it is not much different than DS4Windows. It allows a similar degree of customization and is equally stable and responsive. However, whether you will use Steam depends largely on whether you are a Steam user.
Namely, when running a game through Steam, the client allows you to access a library of pre-made controller profiles and it switches the controller from the desktop profile to an in-game profile automatically.
On the downside, it is quite inconvenient to use with non-Steam games, as the profiles still have to be switched manually and the Steam client needs to be running at all times for the controller to work.
- Automatic installation
- Highly customizable
- Very convenient to use with Steam
- Hassle to use with non-Steam games
- Still no Bluetooth audio
Sony DualShock 4 Official Wireless Adaptor
Sony may not have released any official downloadable drivers, but they did release the DualShock 4 USB wireless adaptor. While this is essentially just a glorified Bluetooth dongle, it unlocks all of the DualShock 4’s functions on Windows and macOS.
First and foremost, it brings plug-and-play convenience on both PC and Mac, which is great news for those who simply don’t want to bother with settings and adjustments which are unavoidable with any other method. On top of that, it is the only way to get wireless audio to work on either system.
Now, this adaptor is not without flaw. Right off the bat, you can see that it is quite expensive as far as Bluetooth dongles go. Another big issue is that it doesn’t come with any software accompanying it, so customization has to be done directly in-game, if a game supports it. That said, it can be a hassle to use outside PlayStation Now or PlayStation RemotePlay.
All things considered, we only recommend getting this adaptor if you’re dead-set on getting that headphone jack to work, but even then, you can actually get a decent Bluetooth headset for this price. And if you ultimately decide on buying one, better hope that it’s available in your region.
- Plug-and-play compatibility
- Headphone jack functionality
- Limited customization
- Expensive for a Bluetooth dongle
- Not as stable outside official Sony programs
- Limited global availability
Which to Use?
Now that we have introduced the three primary ways of connecting the DualShock 4 controller to your computer, you are probably wondering which would suit you best?
If you are using a PC running on Windows, we recommend using DS4Windows.
Simply because it is the most stable and reliable piece of software for this purpose. True, Steam can be more convenient if you are primarily a Steam user – especially if you like using Big Picture on your TV – but the truth is, there are other platforms out there.
We do not recommend the official Sony Bluetooth adaptor for the very reason previously mentioned – it is expensive and without enough features or stability to justify that price tag.
With Mac, your options are more limited. While a Mac will automatically register input from a DualShock 4 controller when connected, the only way to get any sort of customizability is through Steam.
Unfortunately, no third party drivers exist on Mac and emulators only exist as part of console emulators such as OpenEmu.