How to Use a PS4 DualShock 4 Controller on a PC
The DualShock 4, the PlayStation 4’s bundled controller, is one of the finest gamepads I’ve handled. It’s comfortable and solidly built and with analog sticks and triggers that feel just right. Unfortunately, you can only use it with the PlayStation 4 console. Well, officially. Fortunately, there are ways to connect it to your PC. All you need is a USB-to-micro-USB cable and, depending on how you want to do it, a Bluetooth USB adapter and a special USB controller adapter.
CronusMAX/Titan One USB Adapters
If you want to avoid playing with third-party drivers, you can get a USB controller adapter like the CronusMAX or Titan One. Our review of the CronusMAX gives greater detail. But in short, it’s a USB key that connects almost any controller, including the DualShock 4, to your PC with custom mapping and macro programming—either directly through a USB cable or with a compatible USB Bluetooth adapter. It also costs at least as much as the DualShock 4 controller itself, so you might want to go for a more specific and affordable option.
Pros: Hardware emulation means no futzing with third-party drivers in Windows. No ads.
Cons: Expensive. Requires a USB Bluetooth adapter for wireless connection.
Hooking up your DualShock 4 to your PC once took a handful of third-party drivers and wrappers to trick your computer into thinking it’s an Xbox 360 controller, but the process has been made a lot simpler. DSDCS’ DS4 Windowsprogram streamlines things and packs everything you need into a single Windows installer.
To get started, just download DS4 Windows, install it, and plug in your DualShock 4. It will display automatically in the program, and Windows will think it’s an Xbox 360 controller. You can also modify the controller’s settings to do things like map buttons and even tune the analog sticks’ sensitivity in multiple ways. DS4 Windows is a free, ad-driven program, though you can donate to DSDCS for an ad-free version.
Pros: Free. Can use onboard Bluetooth for wireless connection.
Use it Wirelessly
Whether you use a USB adapter or DS4 Windows, you can use your DualShock 4 over Bluetooth. For the CronusMax and Titan One, you need to plug a compatible Bluetooth adapter into its USB port, so the adapter processes the inputs from the controller directly. For DS4 Windows, you can use your computer’s onboard Bluetooth.
The DualShock 4 automatically pairs with the PlayStation 4 by plugging it with a USB cable. To pair with your computer, you’ll have to force the controller into pairing mode. Turn off the controller—easily done by plugging it into a PlayStation 4 and holding the PlayStation button until a menu appears, then selecting Turn Off Controller)—then hold down the Share button and press the PlayStation button until the light bar flashes. That will put the gamepad into pairing mode, and you can connect it to your computer just like any other Bluetooth device.
What if I Use a Mac?
There’s good news and bad news. The good news is connecting a DualShock 4 to your Mac is much, much simpler than connecting it to your PC. The bad news is compatibility is much, much more limited, and you’ll likely find yourself tweaking controls and trying to get it to work more than you would with a PC that thinks it’s an Xbox 360 controller. Simply plug the controller into a USB port and your Mac will detect it as a gamepad.
If you want to use Bluetooth, hold down the Share button and press the PlayStation button on the gamepad until the light bar flashes, then pair it in your Mac’s Bluetooth menu. Be aware that the Bluetooth connection’s compatibility and reliability is lower than with the USB connection. After that, experiment to see which games work with the gamepad and what settings you need to tweak. A good starting point is to enter Steam’s Big Picture mode, select the Settings icon on the top right, and select the Controller button to play with how it works.