Before we get into the specifics of connecting your DUALSHOCK via one of the two methods, you have to determine if your PC is Bluetooth capable or not.
How to tell if your PC has Bluetooth
- Right-click on the Windows Start button.
- Select Device Manager.
- If you have an entry with the Bluetooth icon, your PC is Bluetooth capable! If not, don't worry; you can still connect your DUALSHOCK.
- You can also press CTRL + F to bring up your PC's search bar. Type "Bluetooth" into the search bar, and if there's a Bluetooth result in your PC's files, your PC has Bluetooth!
If your PC is Bluetooth capable, you can use either the USB or Bluetooth.
If your PC doesn't have Bluetooth, you're limited to one of two options: the micro USB method or the Bluetooth adapter method.
While there are pros and cons to each method (you charge your DUALSHOCK with the USB, you get more portability with Bluetooth because you're wireless, etc.), there is one caveat to connecting with a PS controller: you have to change the way your DUALSHOCK communicates with your PC.
Most PC games use Microsoft's XInput, an interface that allows the PC to process Xbox controller inputs. Since the DUALSHOCK are a Sony product, they don't communicate using the XInput, so you need to change how your PC interprets the PS controller.
Thankfully, this is made possible through third-party platforms like Steam and DS4Windows. Connecting your controller through Steam is straightforward, and, since most PC gamers already have Steam downloaded, that's the program this guide will focus on.
If you don't have Steam downloaded, I'll show you how to do that in the next step.
Steam is an online platform from game developer Valve where you can buy, play, create, discuss, and rate video games. It also makes it easy to connect your controllers to your PC, regardless of your preferred connection method.
But first you have to download Steam. Assuming you don't have it on your computer yet, follow these steps to set yourself up.
How to download Steam
- Visit the Steam website and click on "Install Steam" to start the downloading process.
- Open the downloaded file.
- Drag the Steam program to your Applications folder and open your Applications folder.
- Inside your Applications folder, open Steam.
- Click "Open" to launch Steam, bringing you to the login page, where you can either create a new account or log into an existing account.
- If you haven't yet, go ahead and make your account by clicking Create an account and following the prompts.
Now that you have Steam downloaded, and your account set up, you're ready to learn how to use Steam to connect your DUALSHOCK controller to your PC.
This method works whether your PC has Bluetooth or not!
Before we get into the specifics of how to connect your controller, you need to understand one thing: Your controller won't work if you plug it into your computer – You have to go through Steam.
How to connect through Steam
- Plug the micro USB into your connector into your DUALSHOCK.
- Then, plug the USB-A into your PC (your controller will light up to indicate a successful connection).
- On your PC, launch Steam.
- Log into your account.
- From your Steam homepage, click on the screen icon in the upper right-hand side of the screen to enter Big Picture Mode. (the icon looks like a box with two adjacent arrows pointing outward inside).
- In Big Picture Mode, click on the "Settings" icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
- Once in your Settings, scroll to "Controller Settings" (Right below "Friends" under the Personal menu).
- Inside "Controller Settings," check the "PlayStation Configuration Support" box.
- If your controller is plugged in, checking the box will cause Steam to detect your controller. "PlayStation 4 Controller" will appear at the bottom of the Settings options. Scroll down and select your controller beneath "Detected Controllers:"
From this menu, you'll also be able to customize the amount of time your PC will leave your controller on if you've left your game idle. The default is 15 minutes.
Connecting your DUALSHOCK to your PC via Bluetooth is pretty straightforward with Steam.
How to connect through Steam
- Open your PC's Bluetooth menu.
- Click Add device under the Bluetooth menu.
- Click the Bluetooth option.
- Now, grab your controller and pair by holding down the Playstation and Share buttons for three seconds or until the Light Bar double flashes. This will make your controller detectable via Bluetooth.
- Once it's detectable, select Wireless Controller.
- Once your DUALSHOCK is connected, launch Steam and enter Big Picture mode. It's here your controller will work.
If you're interested in connecting your DUALSHOCK to a PC that isn't Bluetooth capable, there is one workaround. It involves a third-party device known as a wireless adapter.
As the name suggests, a wireless adapter allows you to input Bluetooth capabilities on your PC temporarily. For example, you can use an adapter like the AKNES USB Wireless Controller Adapter, which is a less expensive but still effective option to the Sony brand adapter, to connect your DUALSHOCK to, say, your Nintendo Switch.
If you're interested in more Switch content, check out our Switch interest!
Once you have your adapter, you're ready to connect your controller.
How to connect through Steam
- Plug the USB component into your PC.
- Hold the pair button on the USB adapter until the LED light blinks.
- Then, pair your DUALSHOCK by holding down the Playstation and Share buttons for three seconds or until the Light Bar double flashes. This will pair the adapter to the DUALSHOCK.
- The LED will stop blinking once the connection is successful.
- From here, launch Steam and enter Big Picture mode. It's here your controller will work.
Viola! The third and final method for connecting your DUALSHOCK to your PC. Now you're ready to enjoy the ergonomic experience of using your controller with your PC.