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The DualShock 4 is a great controller. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could use it for Steam games, emulation, or PS Now streaming? You can! And while you used to have to download drivers and mapping software, the process is much simpler now. Let’s take a look at how it works on Mac and PC.
Connecting a DualShock 4 to Your Mac
Plug it into the USB port. That’s all there is to it.
Okay, there are a few more steps if you want to use Bluetooth. In that case, you’ll need to press and hold the PS and Share buttons until the light bar flashes. Once you’ve done that, the controller is in pairing mode. Open up System Preferences > Bluetooth and select Pair next to the controller in the device menu.
Now your controller is synced up via Bluetooth and you can do away with the USB cord. Though it is nice to have your controller charging every time you plug it into your computer.
So what can you do with the PS4 controller on your Mac? OpenEmu, the best emulator out there, supports the DualShock 4 natively, so all you have to do is plug it in and start playing. It might take a minute to figure out how it maps to an NES or Genesis controller, but after a few minutes of pressing buttons, you’ll have it down. You can also use it for some computer-only games, making it easier to switch from console to computer games.
And at the end of 2016, Steam added support for the PS4 controller. So now it has just as many mapping options as the Steam controller. You can map it to joystick or keyboard movements, set up action sets, touch menus, and other customizations.
To access these customizations, open up Steam and enable Big Picture Mode by clicking on the controller in the top-right corner of the window or hitting View > Big Picture Mode. Then click the gear to access settings, and select Controller > PS4 Controller. From there, you can adjust mappings and other settings.
Unfortunately, there’s no PlayStation Now app for the Mac, so you’ll need to stick with your PlayStation or a Windows PC for game streaming. You can use the PS4 remote streaming capability to play your PS4 games through your Mac, but the app doesn’t support Bluetooth-connected DualShock controllers. You’ll either need to stay plugged in or purchase the wireless USB adapter (see below).
Connecting a DualShock 4 to Your PC
While it’s not quite as simple as it is on a Mac, connecting your DualShock 4 to a PC is still pretty easy. First, you’ll need to download DS4Windows, a free app that allows you to emulate an Xbox 360 controller (which is supported by Windows) with your DualShock. Some games support the PS4 controller without DS4Windows, but downloading the app will give you more customization options as well as wider compatibility.
Unzip the file and launch DS4Windows. Connect the DualShock 4 with the USB cable or pair it via Bluetooth (hold the PS and Share buttons until the light bar flashes, then pair it using the Start > Settings > Devices > Bluetooth menu; you may need to enter “0000” as the pairing code). From there, just follow the instructions in the DS4Windows app. It will walk you through setting up the controller.
DS4Windows is pretty simple, but if you’re having trouble with it or aren’t getting the results you expected, the website has the answers to many common questions you may have.
As with the Mac, once you have the controller paired, you can use it for a wide variety of games. Emulators and Steam both work similarly (to customize how your controller works with Steam, go to Big Picture Mode and access the settings as detailed above).
And because PlayStation Now allows you to stream PS3 games to your PC, you can use the DualShock 4 to play those games as well. However, PS Now doesn’t support Bluetooth-connected DualShock controllers. You can always connect it via USB cable, or if you want to use PS Now wirelessly, you’ll need to get the wireless USB adapter (see below).
And, like the Mac, you can use PS4 remote streaming to play your PS4 games on your PC. But again, you’ll need to stay plugged in or use the adapter.
The DualShock 4 Wireless USB Adapter
If you’re willing to shell out for an extra accessory, the DualShock wireless USB adapter is a great way to use your controller on a computer that doesn’t have Bluetooth or for some other reason isn’t using the controller very well. It’s a small USB dongle that enables all of the DualShock’s features in any app that supports them. That means you’ll get full rumble, light bar, and even audio through the headphone jack.
Using this is as simple as buying it (it’s only $22 on Amazon) and plugging it in. With the dongle, you can use your DualShock wirelessly for PS Now and PS4 remote streaming. It’s possible that with other software you could achieve the same effect, but this is the only method that’s officially supported.
The dongle has middling reviews, with many people saying it works as expected, and others saying they have some lag issues. And using the adapter in conjunction with DS4Windows to play other games can be a bit finicky. Still, the fact that PlayStation offers official wireless support for just over $20 isn’t bad.
A Great Controller, Now More Versatile
With plug-and-play compatibility on Mac, the easy-to-use DS4Windows on PC, and an official wireless USB adapter, you have quite a few ways to use the DualShock 4 with a wide variety of games on your computer.
If you don’t like the main DualShock 4, check out other great PS4 controllers you can buy.