How to Use a PS4 Controller on Steam

Double up on what your controller can do for you

Playing games on Steam with a PS4 controller is remarkably easy: Just plug the controller into your PC, and you're good to go. With a little bit of extra work, you can even play wirelessly and change the button mapping to your liking. Let's learn how to properly configure your PS4 controller with Steam.

This article specifically focuses on using the PS4 controller with the Steam platform. For more general advice about using a PS4 controller with computer games, see How to Use a PS4 Controller on Your PC or Mac.

How to Connect PS4 Controller to Steam

Before you start using your PS4 controller with Steam, there are some preliminary actions you should take, including making sure you have the latest version of the Steam client. Follow these steps:

  1. Make sure any nearby PlayStation 4 consoles are unplugged. Otherwise, the controller might try to sync with the console instead of your computer.

  2. Launch Steam on your PC.

  3. Select Steam in the top-left corner of the window to open a dropdown menu, then select Check for Steam Client Updates.

    Check for Steam updates
  4. Download and install any available updates. Once finished, Steam will restart.

  5. When Steam relaunches, plug your PS4 controller into a USB port on your PC.

  6. In the Steam client window, select View > Settings > Controller > General Controller Settings.

  7. You should see your controller under Detected Controllers. Select the box beside PS4 Configuration Support. From this screen, you can give your controller a name, change the color of the light atop the controller and toggle the rumble feature on or off.

    Steam controller settings

    If Steam isn't detecting your controller, double check the USB cable connection. Unplugging the controller and plugging it back in sometimes fixes the problem.

  8. Select Submit to save your changes.

    Personalize your Steam PS4 controller settings
  9. That's it.

How to Use a PS4 Controller on Steam Using a Steam Link

If you're using the Steam Link hardware to play games on your TV, the set up is basically the same, except you must plug the PS4 controller into the Steam Link rather than your PC. The Steam Link will even take care of some configuration steps automatically.

How to Wireless Connect a PS4 Controller to Steam

If you hold down the PS and Share buttons simultaneously on your controller, your PC might automatically detect it via Bluetooth. If it doesn't, you might need a PS4 DualShock 4 wireless dongle to play wirelessly. Official ones can be purchased from Sony, or you can find one made by another manufacturer.

To wirelessly pair the PS4 controller with Steam:

  1. Launch Steam.

  2. Plug the PS4 Bluetooth dongle into your computer's USB port.

  3. Simultaneously hold the PS and Share buttons on the controller until the light on top starts flashing.

  4. When the controller appears in the device list, press the X button on the controller to activate it.

  5. Press the button on the end on the dongle. It should also start flashing.

How to Configure In-Game Controls

You should now be able to play most Steam games with your PS4 controller, but you can further customize how your controller works for specific games. Indeed, this step may be necessary for games that primarily rely on keyboard inputs.

To edit in-game controller settings, simply press the PS button on the center of the controller. From the resulting screen, you can map specific keyboard actions to your controller buttons. Most modern games should display the appropriate PlayStation button configuration, but some older games may display an Xbox controller instead. Nonetheless, you should be able to figure out the button mapping and use your PS4 controller with no issues.

When you're finished playing, you should manually power down the controller. Simply hold down the PS button for 7-10 seconds.

How to Navigate Steam With a PS4 Controller

In addition to playing games, you can use your PS4 controller to navigate the Steam platform. For example, you can use the joysticks as a mouse and even enable the controller's trackpad.

  1. Open Steam in Big Picture Mode. You can select the Big Picture icon in the top right corner of the Steam client, or you can simply press the PS button.

    Steam Big Picture Mode
  2. Select the settings icon in the top right corner.

    Steam Big Picture Mode
  3. Select Base Configurations > Big Picture Mode Configuration.

  4. From here, you can configure the control for navigating Steam in both Desktop and Big Picture mode.

    Steam client controller base settings
  5. Enjoy navigating Steam using your wireless PS4 controller.