How to use the DualShock 4 on PC

PlayStation 4 dualshock 4 controller with the Ask PC gamer logo in the top right, on a grey background
How to use a DualShock 4 PS4 controller on PC (Image credit: Sony)

The PS4 controller was a big deal. It was the first Sony controller to shake Microsoft's long monopoly on PC. It was the first to offer a touchpad. It was the first PlayStation controller in some 15 years to tweak the feel of Sony's analog sticks. And it's easy to use via Bluetooth on PC without a special adapter, making it still a great choice for a PC controller even though the console is now a decade old.

The PS4 controller was one of our favorite PC gaming controllers for a long time, and it still feels great in the hand today, lighter and smaller than the PS5 controller. It's a reliable gamepad, though not quite as exciting as the PS5's DualSense controller with its adaptive triggers and advanced haptics. But sometimes the best controller is the one you have handy.

Connecting the DualShock 4 to PC via Bluetooth is quick and easy thanks to Steam, the PC gaming community, and an official (optional) Bluetooth dongle. If Steam is where you play all of your games, its native support for the DualShock 4 makes it just as plug-and-play as an Xbox gamepad. Lots of games also now recognize the PlayStation controller and will show you the correct button icons accordingly, or offer the option to manually toggle them in the in-game controller settings.

To start with hooking up your PS4 controller to PC we'll walk through the Steam setup process, which will only take a few seconds. If you want to play games that aren't on Steam with your DualShock 4, we'll tell you how to set up DS4Windows, a handy tool to cover whatever else you're playing.

PS4 controller on Steam guide

Using a PS4 controller in Steam

  1. Open Steam
  2. Go to Settings in top left dropdown
  3. Open Controller tab
  4. Click General Controller Settings
  5. Register device to your account
  6. Change preferences
  7. Calibrate joysticks
  8. Tick PlayStation Configuration Support
  9. Remap from Settings Controller tab/in game

Thanks to official Steam support, there's almost no setup involved in getting your PS4 controller working in Steam. Just be sure to pair or plug in your controller before opening Steam or any Steam games, or else your controller may not be recognized (click the link to jump down to the Bluetooth section of this guide).

If you run into any connection issues, closing and reopening Steam should do the trick. Otherwise, try using a USB 2.0 port instead of a USB 3.0 port. DualShock 4s are weird like that.

Once connected, navigate to Steam's settings menu—under the top left dropdown—to get everything running smoothly. Under the Controller tab, open General Controller Settings; you should see your controller listed under Detected Controllers. From here you can register it to your account, so it will remember the settings on any PC you log into.

(Image credit: Valve)

Click Preferences to rename, or change rumble and lighting settings. You can also click Calibrate to fine-tune the joysticks and gyro if you feel the need. One important tip: click the check box next to PlayStation Configuration Support if you want to be able to do extra configuration of the controller on a per-game basis.

Back in the Controller tab of the Settings menu, you can configure your controller for Big Picture and Desktop usage, as well, and even set up Guide Button Chord Configuration.

Installing DS4Windows

How to install DS4Windows for non-Steam gaming

  1. Download Microsoft .NET Framework 
  2. For Windows 7, get Xbox 360 controller driver
  3. Plug controller or Bluetooth dongle in 
  4. Download DS4Windows and extract 
  5. Open DS4Windows
  6. Check connection in the Controllers tab
  7. In Settings tab Hide DS4 Controller
  8. Set Use Xinput Ports to one
  9. Edit/Create a profile and remap 

If you're just playing Steam games, you don't need to install anything else!

First, download the newest Microsoft .NET Framework. If you're still stuck running Windows 7, install the Xbox 360 controller driver next. This driver is included with Windows 8 and 10.

Before you do anything else, plug in your PS4 controller with a micro-USB directly to your PC, or pair it through the Bluetooth menu, or with a USB wireless adapter. 

Download and extract newest DS4Windows .zip file next, and open it up. You can ignore the DS4Updater if you already have the newest version. 

Any controllers you've connected will be displayed under the Controllers tab. If not, close DS4Windows, reconnect your controller, then re-open the software. Don't worry about your controller's ID number, we won't be needing it.

Next, open the Settings tab in DS4Windows to configure a few things. Make sure the Hide DS4 Controller box is checked. This will prevent DS4Windows from conflicting with any game's default controller settings. For the same reason, make sure Use Xinput Ports is set to one. 

From the Settings tab, you can also set DS4Windows to run at startup, or remain active in the background. You can also update DS4Windows directly from this tab by clicking Check for Update Now at the bottom left. Above that, you'll see Controller/Driver Setup. If you run into any issues, open this setup and follow the prompts to install any missing drivers. 

DS4Windows works by reading your DualShock 4 as though it were an Xbox 360 controller. That means you won't get the correct Square/X/Triangle/Circle button icons by default in most games. Some games will give you the option to change, but either way, it'll now work with any game that has Xinput support—i.e. most every modern PC game that supports gamepads.

You don't have to remap anything, but if you want to change some buttons or adjust sensitivity outside of in-game menus, just open the Profiles tab in DS4Windows. If you're feeling confident, click New to start a new profile, though this is easier said than done. Otherwise, select the DualShock 4 profile and click Edit.

Let's say you want to swap your bumpers and triggers. First, find L1/R1 and L2/R2 in the scroll wheel in the Controls section, or just click them on the virtual controller. You want to swap L1 with L2 and R1 with R2, so start by clicking L2.

DS4Windows keyboard mapping screenshot

Then, just click the button you want L2 to act as—in this case, L1. Voila, your left trigger will now act as your left bumper. Repeat this process with the other triggers and bumpers to complete the change and prevent redundancy. You can save this button setup as a separate profile and swap between profiles in the Controllers tab.

DualShock 4 Bluetooth setup

PlayStation official bluetooth dongle, front and side angle, on a grey background

(Image credit: Sony)

How to connect your PS4 controller via Bluetooth  

  1. Hold controller's Share and PS button until it flashes
  2. Make sure your PC's Bluetooth is enabled
  3. Add your controller in your PC's Bluetooth menu
  4. Pairing should happen automatically

To connect your PS4 controller via Bluetooth, simply hold the small Share button and the central circular button simultaneously until the controller's backlight starts flashing. If you own the now-discontinued official PlayStation adapter, press the button on it until it starts flashing. Once both are flashing, they will automatically pair after a few seconds.

Don't have the official Sony adapter? That's okay—another Bluetooth adapter should work, too. For a PC with Bluetooth built-in (or if you have a generic USB dongle), just press the Windows key and type "Bluetooth" to open the Bluetooth & devices settings menu. Click "Add device" and look for the controller. Once it's flashing, you should see it listed here.

Luckily, you don't have to pair your controller every time you want to use it with the official adapter. As long as you don't unplug the adapter, it will save its last connection, so you can just tap your controller's central PlayStation button to reconnect it. Windows should also remember the controller, so if yo don't use it on a console in the interim, it should be quick to re-pair with your PC.

The official Sony DualShock 4 USB wireless adapter is the simplest Bluetooth option. You may have to hunt for it or spend a little more than you would on a standard Bluetooth dongle, but it's worth it for its out-of-the-box functionality if you find one on the cheap. Otherwise, roll with regular Bluetooth or pick the simplest route: a cable.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).