How to Use Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons on PC

Yes, you can easily pair Nintendo Joy-Cons to a Windows PC

The Nintendo Switch features a pretty unique controller scheme in the Joy-Con, which is actually two controllers used in concert. These tiny controllers connect to the Switch via Bluetooth, which means you can also connect Switch controllers to your PC (Windows) if you've fallen in love with this idiosyncratic control scheme and want to use it with the emulator or indie game of your choice. When you're done, you can always connect your Switch controllers back to your Switch as well.

You can pair your Joy-Cons to any version of Windows, but the drivers that allow the controllers to work on your PC work best with Windows 10.

Switch Joy-Cons on a Windows 10 PC.
Jeremy Laukkonen

How to Use Joy-Cons on a Windows PC

First of all, your PC needs to have Bluetooth connectivity. The Joy-Cons use Bluetooth to connect, so they won't have any way to hook up if your PC doesn't have that functionality. If it doesn't, and you really want to use your Switch Joy-Cons on your PC, then you'll need to add a Bluetooth adapter first.

If you have Bluetooth, then you have two options:

  • Use each Joy-Con individually: You will use each Joy-Con in the sideways configuration as a standalone wireless controller. This is good for two player action and retro style games.
  • Use the Joy-Cons as one controller: This allows you to use the Joy-Cons together as a single controller, and it's best for modern games that require two analog sticks.

We'll show you how to connect your Joy-Cons to your PC via Bluetooth, and then how to get them working with BetterJoy. BetterJoy is free software you can download from GitHub that allows you to use your Joy-Cons either individually or as one controller.

How to Connect Joy-Cons to Your Windows PC

Before you can start using your Joy-Cons on your PC, you first need to get them connected. This is a simple process that involves pairing each Joy-Con with your PC via Bluetooth. Once you finish, you'll be ready to use BetterJoy, or any alternative, set your Joy-Cons up to work with PC games and emulators.

  1. Click Start, and navigate to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth, and, if the toggle is set to off (as pictured), click the Bluetooth toggle to turn it on.

    A screenshot of Windows Bluetooth settings with Bluetooth off.
  2. Click Add Bluetooth or other device.

    Bluetooth settings in Windows with Bluetooth on.
  3. Hold down the sync button on your Joy-Con until the lights start flashing.

    A Nintendo Joy-Con in pairing mode.

    You can find the sync button on the connector rail between the SL and SR buttons.

  4. Click Bluetooth.

    A screenshot of adding a Bluetooth device in Windows.
  5. Click Joy-Con (L) or Joy-Con (R) when it appears in the Bluetooth devices menu.

    A screenshot of adding a Bluetooth device in Windows.
  6. Wait for the Joy-Con to connect, and then repeat this process if you also want to pair the other one.

    A screenshot of a successfully paired Joy-Con in Windows.

How to Use Your Joy-Cons as Controllers on a PC

Once you have successfully paired your Joy-Cons to your PC, you'll have to provide some method for the PC to understand the inputs from each controller. There are a lot of solutions to this problem, but we'll show you how to get things working with BetterJoy. This method allows you to easily switch between using the Joy-Cons as separate controllers or together as a single controller.

This method works for Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10, but you may experience issues if you don't have Windows 10. If the drivers crash, try updating your official Xbox 360 controller drivers.

  1. Download BetterJoy from this GitHub repo.

    A screenshot of BetterJoy on GitHub.

    Download the most recent version. Use the x64 version if your operating system is 64-bit, or the x86 version if your operating system is 32-bit. If you aren't sure, check out how to tell if you have Windows 64-bit.

  2. Extract the files to the folder of your choice, open the drivers subfolder, and run ViGEmBUS_Setup as administrator. This will launch an install wizard that installs the necessary drivers.

    A screenshot of installing BetterJoy.
  3. After you have finished installing the drivers, return to the main BetterJoy folder and run BetterJoyForCemu as administrator.

    A screenshot of running BetterJoy.
  4. BetterJoy will recognize your paired Joy-Cons. To use the Joy-Cons as separate controllers, click one of the Joy-Con icons. Doing so will rotate the icons to display the Joy-Cons in a horizontal orientation. To switch back to using them as a single controller, click either icon again.

    A screenshot of BetterJoy.