How To Connect a Game Controller To Your Mac

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connect game controller to macI used to play most of my games on the computer. All of that changed when the next (that is, current) generation of consoles came out. For one, these devices had a considerable assortment of games and great graphics. Another consideration – perhaps most vital in putting me over the edge towards console gaming – was the price-quality.

In terms of hardware, consoles function as an opposite of gaming PCs. Usually, you upgrade a computer for it to match games specs. Console games, on the other hand, are adapted to the console’s specs.

I never got it over my heart to complete the switch, though. There is an amazing repertoire of indie games on the computer, the likes of which you just don’t find on a console. The next best thing is to bring a little console goodness to your desktop computer. You can even use your trusty old console controller to play games on your Mac OS X computer.

Flash games, indie games, blockbuster games; you name it. We’ll show you how to connect a game controller to a Mac, and make your Mac into a second console.

1. Connect The PlayStation 3 Controller ($4.99)

The PlayStation 3 Dualshock controller is a beauty. Black, slick, and with an impressive battery life. If you’ve tired of the amazing PlayStation 3 games that are out there, why not connect it to your Mac OS X computer while you’re waiting for some exciting 2013 game releases? Before we get started, gather your PlayStation 3 controller and its charging cable, and go to System Preferences -> Bluetooth.

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connect game controller to mac

You’ll be met with a pairing request, and asked for a passcode. Don’t worry about the passcode; you can enter anything you want here, but it should be something you’ll be able to remember. I suggest using 0000 or 1234.

After your computer finalizes the device pairing, you have to be quick. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with the device pairing screen again. With your PlayStation 3 controller selected, open the cog menu at the bottom left of the screen. First, select Add to Favorites, then Update Services.

connect controller to mac

Right now, your PlayStation 3 controller is connected to your computer, but it won’t do anything useful yet. For that, we need an application to interpret the PlayStation 3 controller’s signals. We’ll be using Joystick Mapper. It’ll set you back $4.99, but it’s one of the best applications of its kind.

connect controller to mac

Joystick mapper uses presets to interpret your PlayStation 3 controller’s signals. Selecting File -> Load Examples will populate the application with a number of example presets. Chances are these are all you’ll need, as they already include presets for mouse, first person shooter and flash games. You can enable a given preset by ticking off the checkbox to the left of it.

connect controller to mac

You can define your own controls by editing a sample preset, or creating your own. Doing so is very simple. If you’re creating a new preset, you’ll first have to add a new joystick (your PlayStation 3 controller). Then you can redefine, or add new control binds. Specify the input key of your PlayStation 3 controller at the left hand side, and the associated computer button at the right hand side.

To make things even easier, you can press the scan button to let Joystick Mapper automatically detect a given key. Just make sure you put your controller on a flat surface so as not to accidentally trigger the motion sensors.

2. Xbox 360 Controller

If you’ve never used your Xbox 360 controller with another computer before, the chances are you don’t have the prerequisite hardware yet. As we can’t connect the Xbox 360 controller over Bluetooth, you’ll either need a wired Xbox 360 controller, or Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Wireless Controller Receiver for Windows. Don’t bother trying to use the charging cable that came with your wireless controller, as it transfers no data.

While you’re waiting for your order to arrive, have some more fun with your Xbox 360, and see if you’ve missed any of the top Xbox 360 games you must play.

connect game console to mac

To be able to use your Xbox 360 controller with your Mac, you’ll first need to install a driver. Tattiebogle’s Xbox 360 controller driver (which can be downloaded without charge) takes care of this, and provides a nifty interface for specifying the controls associated with your Xbox 360 controller. After installing the driver, simply open the newly added Xbox 360 Controllers tab in your Mac’s System Preferences.

3. Wii Remote

We already showed you how to connect your Wiimote to a Windows PC. Connecting your Wii Remote (or Wiimote) to your Mac is a lot simpler! You won’t need any additional hardware, or premium software for this to work.

Before we get started, download DarwiinRemote, which can be found on SourceForge free of charge. Be advised that the official branch of DarwiinRemote doesn’t work on the later versions of Mac OS X. If it doesn’t work, you can download an updated version from here.

connect game console to mac

With your Wiimote at hand and DarwiinRemote running, you’re ready to get things rolling. Press the Find Wiimote button in DarwiinRemote, and hold the 1 button and 2 button until your Wiimote is detected by the application. At this point, you should be able to see some squiggly-colored lines populate the graph (this is data from your Wiimote’s acceleration sensors). If not, and if you’re using a recent version of Mac OS X, refer to the above paragraph.

connect game controller to mac

By default, Darwiin Remote is configured for your Wiimote to play well with Front Row. If you want to define other controls, just open the Darwiin Remote preferences. Here you can add and edit existing presets for your Wiimote, Nunchuk, Classic Controller, mouse and Balance Board.

What controller are you going to pair with your Mac, and what games do you want to play with it? Drop a line in the comments section below the article, and let us know.

Image credit: PeterPhoto123 / Shutterstock

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