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how to use your joystick as the keyboardDo you still have a joystick connected to your PC? You might be one of a dying breed. Cheap consoles, and a preference on the part of many gamers for the mouse and keyboard, means the heyday of game controllers plugged into computers is long gone.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few uses for joysticks today however. Many modern games still support them, and they’re a staple for retro-gamers. Once in a while however, you’ll stumble upon a game you wish you could use your joystick as the keyboard for but cannot.

Super Mario Crossover Super Mario Crossover- Play SMB As Link, MegaMan, Samus ... Super Mario Crossover- Play SMB As Link, MegaMan, Samus ... Read More , for example, is flash-based and as such cannot support a joystick. So what do you do in those circumstances?


Set up your joystick as the keyboard, of course. JoyToKey is the program you’re looking for to accomplish this. This Windows program allows you to “map” the buttons on your joystick to act as a keyboard, allowing you to program your joystick to do pretty much anything.

Getting Started

how to use your joystick as the keyboard

As you can see, the program’s not very complicated. Just download it here and install it to get started.

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When you do you’ll see a simple window outlining the joypads you have plugged in and the buttons that can be modified. To map a button to act as a particular key simply double-click the button in question, then set the keys as you will.

joystick to keyboard

You’re not limited to the keyboard, either. You can also program the joystick to mimic mouse movements, and even to launch specific commands if you like. Want to launch a program with a given button? Check out the “Command” tab to get started.

Not sure which buttons on your joystick are which? You’re not alone; I had the same problem. Happily Windows has a decent Joystick Configuration Tool built in. Fire it up and you can press buttons on your keyboard to see their true number. Like this:

how to use your joystick as the keyboard

You’ll find this tool in the control panel, or by simply clicking “Start” and typing “joystick” on Vista and Windows 7 before clicking the “set up USB joystick” button.

Now that you know which buttons are which you’re ready to map your joystick. Have fun! Just note that some fullscreen programs may not work perfectly with this application, but many do. It’s also worth noting that minimizing this program sends it to the system tray, which is perfect if you want the program to work but stay out of your way.

Potential Uses

Conclusion

I’ve been having a lot of fun with this setup, and I hope you might find it useful/awesome as well.  Do you know of any better software for the task?  If so, please share it below. Also please share any cool uses you may have for JoyToKey so everyone reading can benefit.

  1. krisu
    September 17, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    I have one problem: I can't get the D-pad work with Logitech's Dual Control, those LEFT, RIGHT, UP and DOWN only configs the thumbsticks. Xpadder works with D-pad, but can't figure the top buttons (5, 6, 7, 8). Those works on JoyToKey.

    Is there a way to make JoyToKey to work with D-pad or do I have to use Xpadder instead?

  2. krisu
    September 17, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    I have one problem: I can't get the D-pad work with Logitech's Dual Control, those LEFT, RIGHT, UP and DOWN only configs the thumbsticks. Xpadder works with D-pad, but can't figure the top buttons (5, 6, 7, 8). Those works on JoyToKey.

    Is there a way to make JoyToKey to work with D-pad or do I have to use Xpadder instead?

  3. Michelbasilieres
    September 17, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    How about something to map my PC wheel to the keyboard?

    • jhpot
      September 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      Your PC wheel is probably just a re-fitted joystick. You might find that this program works with it, but you'll have to test it to find out!

    • MarioMaster100
      September 18, 2010 at 1:13 am

      I'm pretty sure xpadder does this and you use it can use it with either joystick or the dpad.

  4. Srivatsan Venkatesh
    September 16, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    I use Xpadder on my Windows box, but what about the Mac? ControllerMate seems good but you can only use it for 20 minutes before you have to bring it back into focus. Is there something like JoyToKey for Mac?

    • MarioMaster100
      September 17, 2010 at 2:52 am

      Have you tried using the wine program?

  5. MarioMaster100
    September 16, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Xpadder 5.3 is what I use and it's simple to use :)

    • jhpot
      September 16, 2010 at 9:38 pm

      You'd know; you're the MarioMaster. :)

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