For some games, there’s just nothing better than feeling a gaming controller in your hands. Many players out there prefer to use a PS4 controller with their PC as a result. Controllers aren’t necessarily better than a keyboard and mouse, but they offer a different playing style that many players find more accessible.
However, while XBOX One controllers are essentially plug-and-play for Windows PCs, DualShock 4 controllers are not. In this guide, we’ll walk you through several ways to connect your PS4 controller to your PC.
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Connecting To Steam
Since 2016, Steam has natively supported the DualShock 4 controller (and any configurations thereof). With Steam’s support, you can use the controller both in the Steam platform itself and in any games included in your Steam library.
Do keep in mind that having Steam installed will still not allow you to use your DualShock 4 controller with any game outside of the Steam library. For that, move down to the next section below.
To connect your DualShock 4 controller to your computer using Steam, all you need are the following things:
- A computer that can run Steam
- A DualShock 4 controller
- A Micro USB charging cable OR Bluetooth connectivity
Before you plug your controller in for the first time, we need to activate DualShock 4 Support under Steam’s menus. You can enable generic controller support and XBOX One controller support from here, too.
Start by opening Steam. Then, open the Steam menu on the upper right side of the screen.
From there, open Settings.
Move down to Controller under the side menu, then click the General Controller Settings button.
Once this is done, pairing your controller with your computer should connect it immediately. If Steam doesn’t recognize it right away, try restarting Steam. This should fix the issue.
Connecting With DS4Windows
If you don’t plan to use your DualShock 4 controller on Steam, you’ll need to take a few extra steps. While Windows doesn’t natively support the DualShock 4 controller, all you need to do is install a program called DS4Windows to make it work.
To begin, navigate to ds4windows.com and click the Download Now button.
The button will take you to a GitHub page. Download DS4Windows.zip from the latest version release.
Once you’ve downloaded the zip file, extract the files inside. From there, open the application DS4Windows. Choose where you would like the program to be installed – it lets you choose to install it in Appdata or a Program Folder.
When the program is installed, a small instructional screen will appear. Install the necessary drivers and follow the directions within the application.
Once you’ve installed the required programs and drivers, you’ll be left with this window. You can control the program, which controllers are connected, and other settings from within it.
Essentially, the way DS4Windows works is that it tricks your computer into thinking your DualShock controller is actually an XBOX controller. The program comes with mapping options set up already, but you can customize them if you want, too. You can do this under Profiles.
You can do much more customization with the DS4Windows Program, also, such as:
- Naming various controller profiles
- Custom macros
- Controller light adjustments
- Rumble level tweaking
- Low battery warnings
The only purpose of the DS4Updater program, which comes along with DS4Windows, is, predictably, to keep your DS4Windows program up-to-date. To update your application, all you need to do is run DS4Updater, but you shouldn’t need to use it right away.
Wired Connection Method
If you’re looking to pair your controller to your PC via a cord, all you need to do is plug it in. Your PC should recognize it immediately, provided you’re either using Steam or have DS4Windows installed.
Bluetooth Connection Method
If you want to connect your DualShock controller to your PC using Bluetooth, there are a few more steps you’ll need to take first. To begin, make sure that your PC has Bluetooth capabilities. Some desktop PCs now come with innate Bluetooth functionality, but not all. Most laptops do come with integrated Bluetooth technology.
If your PC does not come with Bluetooth technology natively, you’ll need to buy a USB dongle that allows it to connect to the DualShock controller. Sony makes its own dongle that makes this process very easy if you’re willing to pay a bit more, but any Bluetooth dongle will work.
Once you’ve purchased a Bluetooth dongle, first set it up with your computer and make sure it’s functional. Depending on what you buy, your dongle may be plug-and-play, it could come with installation media, or it could require driver downloads. If your computer has native Bluetooth support, simply turn it on.
Next, make your DualShock 4 controller discoverable by hold down the PS Button and the Share Button at the same time for three seconds. Once the light bar on top of your DualShock controller is flashing, it means your controller is discoverable by other devices.
Next, open Bluetooth and Other Devices by searching for it under the Start menu. Make sure to select “Wireless Controller.” If you’re asked to enter a pairing code, use 0000. With this, your controller should be ready to go, and you should be able to select it in Steam or DS4Windows.
If you can’t find the controller in either program, try restarting the application. This should fix the issue.
There are a few other things to keep in mind when setting up your PS4 controller on your PC. For one, the headphone jacks on DualShock 4 controllers are not supported on PC. As such, if you’re looking to use headphones or a headset, you’ll need to connect it directly to your PC.
Secondly, be aware that neither Steam nor DS4Windows enables a low-battery warning for your computer by default. While you can configure your controller to flash when the battery is low in DS4Windows, Steam will not warn you, and the controller will not, either. Using a wired connection to your controller provides a bit of an advantage here.