The DualShock 4 is a great controller, but it's designed specifically for the PlaySation 4. That means, at least on paper, that it's not meant to be used with a PC. Fear not, since PCs are such powerful and flexible systems that you can get nearly any peripheral to work on them with a little effort.
To play your Steam games with a DualShock 4, all you need is a third-party controller wrapper program called DS4Windows and, if you want to use it wirelessly, a Bluetooth dongle or onboard Bluetooth connectivity. Here's how to do it.
Most current games in Windows use Microsoft's XInput, an interface that processes Xbox 360 and Xbox One controller inputs. The DualShock 4 doesn't send XInput commands, so a wrapper is needed to translate its inputs into something your PC can deal with easier. DS4Windows is a freeware program that tricks your PC into thinking an Xbox 360 controller instead of a DualShock 4 is connected. Follow these steps to get it to work.
- Download it from the DS4Windows web site and extract the file to a folder on your computer.
- Open DS4Windows.
- Follow the instructions in the pop-up window to make sure a generic gamepad driver is installed for the DualShock 4.
- Close DS4Windows and plug your DualShock 4 into your PC.
- Wait for "Wireless Controller" to be installed and to appear on your devices list.
- Open DS4Windows again. The DualShock 4 should appear under Controllers with a USB symbol under Status, and Windows will tell you that it's setting up an Xbox 360 controller. That's your DualShock 4, in disguise.
- Start playing!
That's all you need to do to use your DualShock 4 with your PC as a wired controller. If you want to use it wirelessly, there's an extra step or two. It's easiest to set it up after you configure DS4Windows and connect your DualShock 4 to your PC over USB first.
To pair your DualShock 4 to your PC over Bluetooth, you need to turn the controller off and force it into pairing mode. If it's wirelessly connected to your PS4, hold down the PlayStation button for a few seconds and select Sound/Devices, then Turn Off DualShock 4. If the light bar isn't on, you're good.
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With the DualShock 4 turned off, hold down the PlayStation and Share buttons for three seconds until the light bar starts double flashing. This means it's in Bluetooth pairing mode. Right-click on the Bluetooth icon in your system tray and click "Add a Bluetooth Device." Select "Wireless Controller" and wait for it to pair.
With Wireless Controller connected under your Bluetooth devices, open up DS4Windows again and make sure the gamepad shows up with a Bluetooth symbol under Status. It's now connected wirelessly and will work just like an Xbox 360 controller.
What Else Can You Do?
By default, the DualShock 4 will act like an Xbox 360 controller with the touchpad functioning as a mouse, but DS4Windows offers more options. Click on the Profiles tab and double-click on the Default profile, or create your own new profile. An outline of the DualShock 4 will appear surrounded by various settings. Here you can remap the physical controls, program the touchpad and motion controls to act in different ways, adjust rumble settings, and tweak the analog sticks' dead zones and movement curves. You can even change the color of the light bar.
DS4Windows offers many more options for getting your DualShock 4 to feel good on your PC. You shouldn't have to go into these settings because most games will behave properly after you set the software up the first time, but they're good to have.
The Downside: No Audio
While DS4Windows lets you use the DualShock 4's physical controls, touchpad, and motion controls, it won't enable the controller's headphone jack. That means you can't use a gaming headset connected through the gamepad like you can when it's connected to a PS4. It's one of the few drawbacks of using your DualShock 4 with a PC.
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