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How to use a PS5 DualSense controller on PC

DualSense

The PlayStation 5's DualSense is one of the console's greatest strengths. Thanks to its advanced haptic motors and "adaptive" triggers, it feels like no controller I've used before—at least when playing PS5 games that take full advantage of it. While the DualSense is easy to use on PC as well, most games aren't designed to take advantage of its unique hardware.

The exciting news is that some PC games like Metro Exodus have actually started to tap into the DualSense's special features. And thanks to Steam, we can easily use the DualSense controller in virtually any PC game without fussy setup.

Here's a quick guide to using the PS5 DualSense controller on PC via wired USB or a wireless Bluetooth connection.

Connecting: Wired or Bluetooth

Connecting the DualSense via wired or Bluetooth

Wired

This part of setup is a snap. To connect the controller to your PC via USB, you're going to need a USB-C to USB-A cable for your PC (or a USB-C to C cable if you happen to have a convenient C port). While the PlayStation 5 console comes with one packed in, the DualSense sold by itself doesn't. Bummer! Get your hands on a cable, plug it in, and you're on your way.

If you need to buy a cable, here's a two-pack from Anker for $11.

Bluetooth

To use the DualSense via Bluetooth, you'll need a USB Bluetooth adapter (or a motherboard with Bluetooth built-in). To get connected, open the Bluetooth & other devices menu in Windows by pressing the Windows key and typing "Bluetooth." Then click "Add Bluetooth or other device" and the first item on the next menu that says "Bluetooth." Your PC will start searching for available devices.

On the DualSense, hold down the PlayStation logo button and the Share button (the small one to the left of the touchpad) until the LEDs around the touchpad begin flashing rapidly. Within a few seconds, "Wireless controller" should pop up in your Bluetooth devices list to connect to. Just click on it to finish pairing.

If you need a Bluetooth adapter, you can get a 5.0 model for less than $20.

The DualSense will now be accessible in Windows with its DirectInput driver, which some games will recognize and let you rebind controls. But many PC games today are built around Microsoft's newer XInput driver for the Xbox controllers, so the DualSense will be pretty limited without some help. That's where Steam comes in.

Steam setup

Setting up the controller on Steam

(Image credit: Steam)

Steam added initial support for the DualSense back in November 2020, and has improved support for it since then. Using Steam is by far the easiest way to get your DualSense working on PC, even if you want to use it in non-Steam games (more on how to do that in a minute).

To start, connect the DualSense to your PC via wire or Bluetooth as described above. Once you have it connected, open Steam and launch Big Picture Mode. You should see the DualSense is now recognized and listed as a PlayStation 5 controller. Steam will automatically configure the keybinds to mimic an Xbox controller layout; the Triangle button is Y, the Square button is X, etc.

You can choose Calibrate to tweak the joystick sensitivity, and Preferences to give the controller a name, enable/disable rumble, and configure the color and brightness of the LED strip around the touchpad.

One important tip here: make sure PlayStation Configuration Support is checked if you want to customize your DualSense controller's layout or gyro controls. With this button checked, you can press the PlayStation logo button on the controller in any Steam game to pull up Steam's controller configuration screen.

Reminder: the controller configurator is only available through Steam Big Picture mode.

(Image credit: Steam)

From this screen you can swap button bindings, change how the touchpad works (it can do separate left- and right-clicks) and also configure the gyroscope, if you want to use gyro aiming. You can also configure Action Sets and Action Layers to enable totally different button bindings and then switch to them on the fly in-game. For example, if you only wanted to use gyro controls while in a plane in GTA, you could create an Action Set for that and trigger it by pressing a specific key anytime you hop in a plane.

If you just want your DualSense to work like any ol' gamepad, though, you can leave this screen alone, no tweaking required.

Non-Steam games

How to use the DualSense with non-Steam games

If you want to use the DualSense in a game that you own on, say, the Epic Games Store, there's a solution that should work for just about anything, even emulators. The easy way to do it: Bring Steam back into the picture. Steam has an "Add to library" feature for Windows executables that allows you to add other programs to your Steam library, and then make use of the Steam overlay. 

As you can see in the image above, click the "Games" menu in Steam, then choose the "Add a Non-Steam game to my library..." option to pull up a list of programs on your PC. In most cases, this should allow you to add a game and use a controller with Steam acting as the intermediary.

DS4Windows is another option

If you prefer to configure the DualSense for non-Steam games without adding those games to your Steam library, community tool DS4Windows has been updated with DualSense support.

To use it, connect your controller to PC via USB or Bluetooth as explained above with DS4Windows open, and you should then be able to customize your keybinds, change the LED and monitor the controller's battery level. DS4Windows will let you use the DualSense in any PC game with Xbox controller support.

The PS5 controller's special features can work natively on PC, but only in a couple games so far

You won't have to use Steam to make the DualSense work in all games. In Windows the DualSense uses the generic DirectInput driver, which some games support out of the box. But most games today use Microsoft's newer XInput driver, which is where Steam Input really comes in handy. But it's exciting to see that less than a year into the PS5's life, PC games are starting to dabble with supporting the controller's unique features.

The PC version of Metro Exodus added dedicated support for the DualSense in May 2021, making use of the controller's haptic motors and adaptive triggers. And Assassin's Creed Valhalla has done the same.

Wes Fenlon
When he's not 50 hours into a JRPG or an opaque ASCII roguelike, Wes is probably playing the hottest games of three years ago. He oversees features, seeking out personal stories from PC gaming's niche communities. 50% pizza by volume.