How to Use a PS4 Controller on Your PC or Mac

PS4 controller

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If you own a PS4, there's no reason to buy a new controller just to play PC games. The process for getting your games to work with the PS4's dual-shock controller is as easy as downloading and installing the DS4Windows driver. And if you want to play games on Steam or play on a Mac, you don't even need this driver.

How to Play Steam Games Using your PS4 Controller

Let's start with the easiest setup in PC land. Steam has updated its platform to support PS4 controllers, but it's not quite as simple as launching Steam and playing a game.

  1. First, ensure that you have the latest update by clicking the Steam menu at the top-left of the Steam client window and choosing Check for Steam Client Updates.
  2. If there is an update available, choose to download and install it. You will need to wait for Steam to close out and apply the update, but this usually doesn't require you to reboot the computer. Once Steam launches after the update, you are ready for the next step.
  3. Plug your PS4 controller into your PC. Even if you plan on using it wirelessly (more on that later), it is a good idea to get it configured correctly with it plugged into the PC using the USB cable.
  4. If you are in the basic Steam client, click the View menu at the top and choose Settings. In the Settings screen, choose Controller from the left-side menu and click on General Controller Settings.
    If you are in Big Picture Mode, click the Settings button and choose Controller Settings.
  5. In the Controller Settings, you should see the PlayStation controller under Detected Controllers. If not, make sure you have the controller connected to your PC with a USB cable. If it is still not detected, try unplugging the cable and plugging it into your PC again.
  6. Next, check the box next to PS4 Configuration Support. This will take you to a new screen where you can name the controller, configure the color of the light on the controller, and turn the Rumble feature on or off. When you are ready, click the Submit button.
  7. You can access the Controller settings in-game by pressing the PlayStation button on the PS4 controller. You can even use these settings to map keys to each controller button in order to control keyboard-only games with your dual-shock controller. However, it might be easier to just add a wireless keyboard and mouse if you have them available.

Most games should show the PlayStation button configuration correctly, but older games that don't support Steam's generic controller may show the Xbox controller buttons on-screen. The PS4 controller should still work fine.

How to Play Non-Steam PC Games Using Your PS4 Controller

While Steam has become the dominant platform for gaming on the PC, not all games support Steam and not all players use it. Fortunately, there's an alternative for using your dual-shock controller with non-Steam games. The DSWindows driver works by tricking the computer into thinking the PS4's dual shock controller is really an Xbox controller.

  1. First, you will need to download the DS4Windows driver by opening the DS4Windows website in your browser.
  2. Next, click the Download Now button. This will take you to GitHub with a listing of the latest drivers.
  3. The latest release should be at the top of the list. Click to download it.
  4. When the download is complete, open the zip file and click on DS4Windows.exe. You should see a message asking if you want to extract all files. Click the Extract all button.
  5. After you have extracted the files to their own folder, click DS4Windows.exe again to install the driver.
  6. You will be prompted to choose where you want to store the settings and profile information. If you are unsure, choose Appdata. This is the default installation.
  7. If you have User Account Control turned on, you will need to give DSWindows.exe permission by clicking Yes when prompted.
  8. In the next window, click Install the DS4 Driver. If you are using Windows 8 or Windows 10, this is all you need to do. If you are on Windows 7 or an earlier version, you will also need to click the Step 2 button to install support for Xbox 360 controllers.

If you experience any problems, you may want to reboot the computer. Sometimes this may be needed for Windows to properly detect the driver and the controller. 

How to Connect Your PS4 Controller Wirelessly

While it is best to get your PC set up and running with the PS4's Dual Shock Controller using the supplied USB cable, you don't have to use the cable while playing. Sony sells a rather expensive Bluetooth adapter for connecting the controller to a PC, but even this isn't necessary. It's just a way for Sony to grab a few extra bucks out of unsuspecting gamers. The PS4 controller uses the same Bluetooth technology almost every other wireless device uses, so you can skip the more expensive Sony-branded adapter and go with any cheap Bluetooth adapter you can find on Amazon.

Even the setup is the same as any other Bluetooth device.

  1. First, you will need to put your controller in discovery mode by holding down the Share button and the PlayStation button until the light blinks.
  2. Next, type "Bluetooth" into the Windows Type here to search box at the bottom of the screen and open the Bluetooth settings. (If you are running an older version of Windows, you may need to go through the Control Panel to get to these settings.) 
  3. If Bluetooth is turned off, you will need to turn it on. If you don't have the option to turn Bluetooth on or off, Windows may not be properly detecting your Bluetooth adapter. Try rebooting the computer if this is the case. Otherwise, click the button with the plus sign labeled Add Bluetooth or other device and on the next screen choose Bluetooth. If your controller is in discovery mode, it should show up in the list. Just tap it to pair. 

If you use Steam, you may want to quit out of Steam when playing non-Steam games. Steam can sometimes cause problems by intercepting the Bluetooth signal. This is only a problem when playing wirelessly. If you have your controller plugged into your PC, Steam should behave.

How to Use Your PS4 Controller on Your Mac

The directions for enabling Steam on the Mac's PS4 support are nearly identical to the instructions above for doing the same on the PC except for one minor detail —instead of accessing the Steam settings by clicking the View menu option and choosing Settings, you will click the Steam menu item and choose Preferences. All other steps are the same.

But what if you aren't using Steam? Luckily, it is easier to get your Dual Shock controller up and running with a Mac than it is using a PC. If you aren't playing wirelessly, it should simply be a matter of plugging it in using the same USB cable that connects it to the PS4.

Going wireless? You can hook up the PS4 controller wirelessly by the same method you would connect any device to the Mac with Bluetooth.

  1. Click on the Apple icon at the top of the screen to access the Mac menu and choose System Preferences and then click Bluetooth.
  2. You will need to put your controller in discovery mode by holding down the Share button and the PlayStation button until the controller light starts blinking.
  3. When you spot Wireless Controller in the Bluetooth menu, click the Pair button.