How to Connect PS4 or Xbox Controllers to Switch

Put old controllers to use again

What to Know

  • PS4 DualShock 4: With Switch turned on and an adapter in the USB port, press L+R on Joy-Con controllers to pair.
  • Xbox One Controller: Hold down the pairing button on the controller and press the adapter button.
  • Then, go to Settings > Controllers and Sensors or Pro Controller Wired Communication.

This article explains how to connect PS4 controllers and Xbox One controllers to Nintendo Switch. The process is similar for both controllers, and both require a controller adapter. Instructions in this article apply to the official PS4 and Xbox One controllers and the Magic-NS Wireless Controller Adapter, but other third-party controllers and adapters also work with the Switch.

How to Use a PS4 Controller on Switch

If your DualShock 4 is synced with a PlayStation 4 console, unplug the console before you begin so it doesn't interfere with the Switch adapter.

To use a Playstation official DualShock 4 controller with your Nintendo Switch, follow these steps:

  1. Place your Switch in the dock and turn it on.

  2. Plug a Magic-NS adapter, available at Amazon, into one of the Nintendo Switch USB ports.

  3. Use the Joy-Con controllers to wake up your Switch and then press L+R to pair both Joy-Cons with the console.

  4. Select System Settings from the home screen.

    The System Settings icon
  5. Select Controllers and Sensors, and then select Pro Controller Wired Communication to turn it on.

    The "Pro Controller Wired Communication" option
  6. Select OK.

    Select OK.
  7. Connect the PS4 controller to the Magic-NS with a USB cable. The LED light on the controller should turn on, indicating it's been detected.

  8. Press and hold the black button on top of the Magic-NS adapter until the light on the back starts flashing.

  9. Press the PS button and the Share button simultaneously on the DualShock 4. The adapter should automatically detect it.

  10. Unplug your PS4 controller from the adapter and use it wirelessly as if it were a Switch Pro Controller.

How to Use an Xbox Controller on Switch

The steps for using an Xbox One controller with the Switch are the same as setting up a PS4 controller. Hold down the pairing button on the Xbox One controller as you press the button on the adapter until the Xbox LED light starts flashing.

The buttons on the Xbox One controller are analogous to the Switch Pro. The only major difference is that you must press View+Menu to capture a screenshot.

The Mayflash Magic-NS adapter comes packaged with a button-mapping guide and stickers that you can place over your non-Switch controllers.

Limitations of Using a PS4 or Xbox Controller With the Switch

Unfortunately, it's not possible to wake up the Switch from sleep mode with a non-Nintendo controller, so you'll still need a pair of Joy-Cons. You may also have to occasionally undock your Switch and put it back in to get the adapter to recognize other controllers. That said, since both Joy-Cons still work while the PS4 controller is connected, you can play multiplayer games with your PS4 controller.

The button mapping is intuitive, although it's important to note that pressing the PS4 controller touchpad will take screenshots. The Share button on the DualShock 4 is also mapped to the minus (-) button on the Joy-Con.

Which Controllers Work on Switch?

Along with the Joy-Cons that come with the system, the Switch supports several alternatives, including the Nintendo Switch Pro and Wii U Pro controllers. You can even use a GameCube controller if you have the GameCube adapter for Wii U. You can also use one of the many third-party gamepads available for the Switch.

Surprisingly, the Switch supports controllers for other game consoles, including the DualShock 4 and many Xbox controllers. Most controllers that work with the PS4 and Xbox One are compatible with Nintendo's console, including arcade-style fight sticks like the Mayflash F300.

Using a PS4 or Xbox One controller is not ideal for playing Switch-exclusive games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but they might be better for playing retro games and 2-D platformers like Mega Man 11.

Nintendo Switch Controller Adapters

While the Nintendo Switch has Bluetooth capabilities, you need a special adapter to connect third-party peripherals. The Mayflash Magic-NS Wireless Controller Adapter is a versatile tool compatible with many consoles, so it's a worthwhile investment if you have a lot of old peripherals.

The Magic-NS Wireless Controller Adapter

Other options include the 8Bitdo adapter, which also supports Wii remotes and DualShock 3 controllers. Considering the high price tag of the Switch Pro Controller, a $20 adapter is preferable if you already have units for other systems. Just make sure it's compatible with the Switch.

You can only connect one controller per adapter, so you'll need two adapters to use multiple peripherals.

  • Can I use a Switch controller on a PS4?

    Yes, but you'll need a Magic-NS wireless adapter and a CronusMAX PLUS adapter. Plug the CronusMAX into the PS4, connect a USB hub, then connect the Magic-NS and the Switch controller to set it up.

  • Can I use my PS4 controller on Nintendo Switch in portable mode?

    Not on the original Switch, but if you have a Switch Lite with a USB port, you can connect your PS4 controller using an adapter.

  • What is the button layout on a PS4 controller if it's used on a Switch?

    The layout of the controller is the same based on the position of the buttons, so X=A, Circle=B, Square=Y, and Triangle=X.

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