Curious about how to connect a PS4 controller to a computer? This is a quick and easy tutorial on how to use a PlayStation 4 controller with a computer running Windows or macOS.
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In fact, the lack of official drivers was the sole reason why the DualShock 3 was so underutilized on PC. Since the PS4’s time in the spotlight is drawing to a close, there are also no official drivers available for the controller’s new DualShock 4 controller.
However, all hope is not lost. Several methods remain, each with its own set of pros and cons, for linking a PS4 controller to a computer.
Let’s check them out and see what they are.
Do I Need a Wireless PS4 Controller?
Your primary decision will be whether to use a wired or wireless controller, regardless of how many extra features the game may have.
The official DualShock 4 controller was designed to let players play their games without being tethered to their systems, so it was originally a wireless controller that relied on a low-power Bluetooth solution. A later update introduced the capability to use a hardwired USB connection.
Latency is the main distinction between wired and wireless connections. You’ll experience latency if there’s a lag between when you press a button and when the signal reaches your PS4. Any delay experienced when using a wired controller is minimal at best. However, due to their increased latency, wireless controllers have a reputation for being a touch less responsive. A fraction of a second delay can be the difference between fragging someone and losing a competitive game. For this reason, many professional pads, including our tournament-grade controllers, are wired.
A wireless PS4 controller is preferable if you plan on using it for anything other than casual gaming in your living room. You can kick back on the couch and enjoy the game without worrying about the latency. Our own line of tournament-grade controllers isn’t wireless, but there are a few other wireless pro-level pads on the market that are worth checking out.
Third Party Software
Since third-party software was always required, the DualShock 3 controller was never widely adopted by PC users. In and of itself, this hardly constituted a problem, but the lack of dependable software in this area was a serious problem. They frequently crashed, had bugs, or bordered on being malware.
Users of the DualShock 4 are in luck because there is a program designed specifically for Windows called DS4Windows.
This handy piece of software mimics an Xbox 360 controller, making it possible for Windows to recognize a DualShock 4 controller.
That doesn’t rule out the possibility that it could include some aspects of the former that are absent from the latter. However, the touchpad and gyroscope can still be used without any issues.
In general, it is simple to set up and flexible in its personalization options, such as allowing for the creation of multiple profiles for use in various contexts.
Unfortunately, the controller’s built-in speaker and audio jack can only transmit sound when physically connected to a computer. Even more so, Mac users will have to look elsewhere for DS4Windows because, as the name suggests, it is only compatible with Windows.
- Simple set up
- Extremely adaptable
- Constant and quick to react
- No Bluetooth audio playback or jack for headphones
- Not a Mac product.
Support for the DualShock 4 was added to the Steam client officially a few years ago. To put it another way, this was fantastic news for PC gamers, the vast majority of whom are Steam users.
As long as Steam is open and running on your PC or Mac, the controller will be recognized immediately. Several alterations to the Big Picture mode can be made from this menu.
The functionality is very similar to DS4Windows. It provides the same degree of flexibility and responsiveness as before. However, whether or not you already use Steam is the primary determinant of whether or not you will use it.
To be more specific, the Steam client supports automatic switching between the desktop profile and an in-game profile for the controller, as well as access to a library of pre-made profiles.
On the downside, it’s a major pain to use with games that don’t support Steam because you have to manually switch profiles and the Steam client has to be open all the time for the controller to function.
- A self-contained set-up procedure
- Flexible in almost any way you can imagine
- Easy to set up and use with Steam.
- Not ideal for use with games that aren’t available on Steam.
- There is still no Bluetooth audio playback
Sony DualShock 4 Official Wireless Adaptor
Although Sony has not made available any downloadable drivers, the DualShock 4 USB wireless adaptor is now available. This may be little more than a flashy Bluetooth dongle, but it grants access to the full range of DualShock 4 features on Mac and Windows computers.
For starters, it offers plug-and-play simplicity on both Windows and macOS, which is great news for people who would rather not mess around with settings and modifications. Furthermore, it’s the only way to enjoy wireless audio with either platform.
The problem is that this adaptor is not perfect. You can tell right away that it is quite pricey in comparison to other Bluetooth dongles.
The lack of supplementary software is also a major drawback; if a game supports in-game customization, then that’s where adjustments must be made. While convenient for PlayStation Now and PlayStation RemotePlay, using it without those services can be a pain.
To sum up, you should only get this adaptor if you’re absolutely set on making that headphone jack function, and even then, for the same price you can get a good Bluetooth headset. And if you do decide to buy one, you’d better cross your fingers that it’s sold where you live.
- Functionality with a single plug
- Plug-in earphone support
- You can’t really tailor it to your needs
- A lot of money for a Bluetooth dongle.
- When not using official Sony software, stability is reduced.
- Extremely limited global distribution
Which to Use?
After learning about the three main methods for linking the DualShock 4 to a PC, you may be wondering which one is best for you.
We suggest DS4Windows if you’re working on a Windows-based personal computer.
True, if you are primarily a Steam user, it can be more convenient to use Steam, especially if you like using Big Picture on your TV, but the truth is that there are other platforms out there. This is because Steam is the most stable and reliable piece of software for this purpose.
It would be much more convenient to have DS4Windows if you were playing on GoG, Origin, UPlay, or even just an old retail game that is not available on Steam.
The official Sony Bluetooth adaptor is not recommended because it is overpriced and lacks the necessary features and reliability.
When using a Mac, you have fewer customization options. The DualShock 4’s input is recognized automatically by a Mac when it’s connected, but further customization is limited to Steam.
Emulators are only available as part of console emulators like OpenEmu, and there are currently no third-party drivers available for the Mac.