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How to Connect Any Console Game Controller to a Windows PC or Mac



  Collection of PS4 and Xbox Controllers on a Table

Console controllers do not always work when you connect them to a Windows PC or Mac. We've put together a list of manuals to help you learn how your favorite controller works with your computer.

Most controllers used on PCs, such as USB Logitech controllers, are HID-compatible devices and support the XInput or DirectInput protocol, which you can use in most games. Some may work immediately, others require a custom driver. For console controllers, especially older ones, you may need a hardware adapter if it is not connected to USB because Bluetooth support is broken or not.

This guide covers Windows and macOS, but most HID controllers work on Linux. also. It only takes a small configuration that Linux users are probably familiar with.

PlayStation 4 (DualShock 4)

  PS4 Dual-Shock Controller

Windows supports Sony PS4 controllers without any additional software, unless you connect them via USB. You need a hardware adapter to use the controller wirelessly.

Macs also support Sony's latest controllers by default, even on a wireless connection. Unfortunately, these controllers appear as a generic input device that may not work in all games.

PlayStation 3 (DualShock 3)

Windows requires a custom driver for PS3 controllers, and the setup is a bit complicated.

Macs support these controllers without additional software. Simply connect wirelessly via Bluetooth or connect with a USB cable.

PlayStation 1 and 2 (DualShock 1 and 2)

Sony's PS1 and PS2 controllers are older and do not use USB. You can get an adapter, but it's probably best to buy a DualShock 3 because it's almost identical, but with wireless and USB support.

Xbox One

 Xbox One Controller

Windows is immediately ready for use as it is Microsoft's flagship controller. Simply connect and play or connect via Bluetooth. You can even update the firmware of the controller from your PC if you are using Windows 10.

Macs support Xbox One wireless controllers without additional features. However, you need additional software if you want to connect the controller via USB. In particular, you need the 360Controller driver, which adds support for wired USB Xbox One controllers.

Xbox 360

Windows supports wired 360 controllers by default, but wireless controllers require a special USB adapter.

Custom driver. Due to kernel extension (kexts) issues, wireless support causes kernel panics and is disabled in this driver.

Original Xbox (Xbox "1")

You need an adapter and some custom drivers, but it is required does not seem to be easy. MacOS has an older driver, but it may not work with newer versions of macOS. If you're crazy, you can do without the adapter and connect some cables, though we do not recommend it.

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

 Nintendo Switch Controller

Nintendo's Switch Pro Controller works automatically after you've connected it via Bluetooth on both Windows and Mac OS, but you need it set up for use in games in Steam.

RELATED: Connecting the Nintendo Switch Joy Con or Pro Controller to Your PC

Wii Remote and Wii U Pro Controller

Windows connects the Controller by default, however, may not be usable as a controller in all apps. Dolphin, the Wii emulator, supports using as inputs, but we had no way to test system-wide usage.

Mac is supported in the same way – only in Dolphin. System-wide deployment is technically supported, but we strongly recommend finding a new controller. MacOS Sierra discontinued support for the sole driver, Wjoy, which was updated at a new fork. The current version does not work either. Therefore, you must create the most recent commit from the source code in Xcode, update a set of build targets, fix some bugs, sign it with an Apple developer account, and finally, you must boot into recovery mode and disable system integrity protection to install it , Only then can you connect the controller properly.

GameCube Controllers

Need an adapter, of course, but Windows and Mac should be supported by default via HID. The support may vary depending on the adapter. You can get an official one, but the Mayflash adapter seems to work well for half the price. This adapter has a switch so you can use it on both a PC and a console. This makes it a HID device, not a proprietary console. However, Dolphin can communicate directly with it and will support the Wii U mode, which can fix some bugs with the extra ports.

Note that macOS 'HID implementation overrides Dolphin's direct communication with the device. Multiple controllers connected. There is a workaround, but it may not work with every adapter. It's about disabling SIP, but only for kext extensions, which is a bit safer.

Guitar Hero Controller

 Guitar Hero Controller

This is a bit weird, as Guitar Hero has many different console versions, but with CloneHero there is still an emerging community on the PC. Most should work with an adapter, so look for instructions on your wiki.

Other Controllers

Other retro controllers usually require adapters, unless you receive updated USB versions. Most adapters should use standard XInput and DirectInput connections and should be configurable in Steam and the apps listed below.

Third-party controllers vary by configuration, but most should use the same standard XInput connections. Normally, compatibility is listed on Amazon. So make sure you buy a compatible computer or something more mainstream.

If your controller is not listed here or you can not work with these instructions A quick Google search for the name of the controller, the operating system version, and the driver should produce decent results.

If you need to remap your controller, you can use Steam's built-in Big Picture mode. If you need to use it in a non-steam game, you can try AntiMicro for Windows and Enjoyable for macOS for free.


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