Sony launched the PlayStation 4 five years ago. The next-generation console fittingly launched with a controller that iterated on DualShock design in great ways. The DualShock 4 debuted with an impressive set of features, allowing it to quickly supplant the DualShock 3 among Sony loyalists. Though slightly heavier than its predecessor, the controller showcased improved analog sticks and triggers, not to mention the addition of a capacitive touchpad.
Perhaps one of its greatest features was Sony’s commitment to making the DualShock 4 compatible with Windows-based PCs. That promised compatibility proved elusive, however, and only recently surfaced. Now that Sony has officially released an external dongle for PCs — and third-party applications such as Steam and DS4Windows continue to improve support for the controller — there are more ways than ever to connect your DualShock 4 to your Windows PC. Here’s how.
Option 1: Connecting with Steam
Steam, the most popular PC gaming portal, offers native controller support for the DualShock 4. It’s incredibly easy to use your DualShock 4 to play games on Steam — All you have to do is:
Step 1: Make sure your Steam client is updated.
Step 2: Just plug your controller into your PC.
Problem solved! Well, almost. Even if Steam is up-to-date, you may encounter a few hiccups while setting up your controller. Steam supports the DS4 as a platform, but that doesn’t mean every PC game works with the controller automatically. If you fire up Dark Souls III, you’ll see what we mean. Steam detects the controller, but Dark Souls III doesn’t. If you find yourself in that boat, or just want to use your controller wirelessly without using Steam, you’re not out of luck. DS4Windows might be the solution for you.
Option 2: Connect using DS4Windows
This solution requires a bit of setup, but it’s still the best way to get your PC and DualShock 4 controllers talking without any major headaches. You can connect your DualShock 4 controller to your PC using DS4Windows, a third-party application, in either wired or wireless mode (if your PC has Bluetooth). Unless you buy the adapter, this is the best option if you want you plan to play games through Origin, UPlay, GoG, or other PC gaming portals.
DS4Windows essentially tricks your system into believing it’s using an Xbox 360 controller, but you’ll still have access to motion controls and even the touchpad for many games.
Step 1: Download the latest version of DS4Windows, which can be found on the application’s official website.
Step 2: Extract it using an archive manager such as WinRAR or 7Zip. You will then have two files, DS4Windows and DS4Update.
Step 3: Double-click DS4Windows to run the installer, which will prompt the following dialogue box:
Step 4: Follow the on-screen instructions, beginning with driver installation. The installation is quick, so you won’t have to wait long. Click on Install 360 Driver if you’re running Windows 7 or older — the driver comes preloaded on Windows 8 and 10 machines.
Step 5: Once you’ve completed both installations, your controller is ready to be connected. Simply plug the DualShock 4 into your PC using a Micro USB cable (the same kind used for most Android phones). This will also charge the DualShock 4 battery, but in order to use the DualShock 4 wirelessly, you’ll need to pair the controller with your PC using Bluetooth.
Step 6: Hold the PS Button on your DualShock 4 for three seconds, or until the light bar begins to flash.
Step 7: Open the Bluetooth settings on your PC.
Step 8: Connect to Wireless Controller.
Step 9: If prompted to input a pair code, enter “0000”.
Step 10: Click Finish on the DS4Windows installer.
Customizing your setup
The primary DS4Windows interface allows players to adjust almost every facet of the controller, right down to the color of the LED light bar. The default controller profile should work for most recent PC games, especially if they’re designed to work with the Xbox controller already.
For games that aren’t easily adaptable to controllers, users can select specific premade profiles or create their own, assigning more or less any keystroke to any of the DualShock’s buttons. Touchpad sensitivity, macros, and game-specific profiles are supported — just look around to see what works best for you.
If you run into issues while using your DualShock 4 controller, you have a couple of options.
Step 1: First, under the settings tab is an option to Hide DS4 Controller. This is handy if your DualShock 4 is taking priority over other connected controllers — such as an Xbox 360 controller — or if you want to make sure your DS4Windows settings take precedence over Steam’s DualShock 4 configuration.
Step 2: Similarly, if the DualShock 4 isn’t working correctly while other input devices are connected, there is a button at the bottom of DS4Windows you can select to connect the DualShock 4 exclusively, making it the primary input source for games.
Step 3: The other file included in the DS4Windows installation, DS4Update, will check for and automatically download the latest version of DS4Windows. Be sure to run this every once in a while to keep the program current, which will help ensure the DualShock 4 continues to work properly with your PC.
Option 3: Connecting with a Sony Wireless Adapter
We previously viewed this option as the best one. Technically, it still is the simplest and quickest, but it appears Sony has stopped manufacturing the Sony Wireless Adapter. GameStop even has it listed (but unavailable) for the telltale price of a discontinued product (any price that ends in 97 cents at GameStop has been discontinued). You can still find the Sony Wireless Adapter for sale online, but not for its standard $25 price. If you manage to come across one, though, here’s how to set it up:
Step 1: Plug the adapter into your PC.
Step 2: Turn on your DualShock 4 controller, and the two should automatically detect one another.
That’s it! This is definitely the easiest solution, even if it is somewhat inconvenient. Also, keep in mind that the adapter measures about 2 inches long, meaning it will stick out of your PC or laptop like a big flash drive. Luckily, you have other options.