Gaming iPhone and iPad

Turn Your iPhone Into A Gamepad With Joypad Legacy [Mac & Windows]

Tim Brookes 24-01-2013

joypad legacy macRecently I have been away from home, with only work, an iPhone and a MacBook Pro to entertain me. While searching for a way to play a few multiplayer games I hit a snag – a distinct lack of controllers. While looking for a solution I came across Joypad for iPhone [No Longer Available], and the now slightly outdated Joypad Legacy app.


Using a Mac or Windows PC and a couple of iPhones, it’s surprisingly easy to turn your handheld iOS device into a touchscreen gamepad Turn Your iPhone Or Android Device Into A Game Controller For Your Computer [Windows & Mac] Do you like playing casual games on your computer? Do you own an iPhone or an Android device? Then how about forgetting about your keyboard and mouse and using your trusty old smartphone as a... Read More . A lack of physical feedback means this isn’t suitable for “serious” gaming (whatever that means) but for emulators and brainless arcade games it does the job quite nicely.

The software means you can turn any Windows or Mac OS X laptop into a portable emulator or games console wherever you are. And it’s now free!

A Very Simple Setup

The setup for this rather awesome freebie couldn’t be simpler. Head on over to the Joypad Legacy website [No Longer Available] and download Joypad Connect for Mac or PC. While it’s downloading (and installing) you should grab the Joypad Legacy iPhone app from the App Store. The software is surprisingly light, and shouldn’t take long to download or install on either device.

joypad legacy mac

Once you’ve got Joypad Connect and Joypad Legacy down and ready to go, launch the host software on your Mac or PC. The top list denotes preset configurations that gel seamlessly with the default emulator setups, the bottom is a list of devices that you’re able to use as a gamepad. With the software running on your computer, launch the app on your iPhone.


iphone joypad app

Provided both devices are connected to the same wireless network (more on this later) then you should be able to click on your device in Joypad Connect (if it hasn’t already connected) to connect and use it with your PC as a gamepad. That’s pretty much all there is to it – you’re now ready to use your iPhone with an emulator or by adding your own custom configuration to use with your favourite Mac App Store, Steam A Selection Of The Best Free-To-Play Steam Games Content delivery service Steam is a real money-spinner for Valve, prompting publishers like EA to shy away from it in pursuit of their own system. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of free gems... Read More or third-party games.

iphone joypad app

The software maps keyboard buttons, so the iPhone app is really just an “extra” keyboard albeit with a limited selection of buttons. By tapping the joypad icon in the bottom-left corner of the Joypad Legacy iPhone app you can access different skins, from modern twists on old favourites to full-on retro versions of classic controllers for NES, SNES Emulating & Playing Classic SNES Games On The PC With ZSNES In my opinion, the Super Nintendo was the greatest gaming console that ever existed. Boasting titles like Chrono Trigger, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, EarthBound, Final Fantasy III, Super... Read More and Genesis 10+ Emulators to Play Old-School 16- and 32-bit Consoles on Your PC (1987-1993) Read More (among others). It’s always a good idea to make sure your skin matches up with the configuration you’re using on your PC else you might be lacking the buttons required.


Performance & Wi-Fi

I was incredibly surprised at how well the controller functions, and was pulling off red-fireballs and shoryukens in Street Fighter Alpha 2 in no time. You’ve got to train your fingers not to wander across the screen, though if you were really serious about using this as a proper controller a small sticker (transparent) or cut-down-to-size screen protector would do the job nicely.

iphone joypad app

I tested performance in Snes9x 8 Of The Best Retro Gaming YouTube Channels [MUO Gaming] Read More mostly and with full-screen mode enabled it’s probably the most fun I’ve had on an emulator in years. I noticed in windowed mode the desktop would occasionally get confused and start switching between spaces (Mac OS X) but who wants to play in a small window anyway? On a rather busy wireless network with an ageing, struggling router the slight delay was noticeable at times but there’s a workaround for that.

While considering the validity of using my laptop as a truly mobile emulator and games console, I realised a lack of network connectivity might be a problem. It’s not an option to use Joypad Legacy over bluetooth, and so a Wi-Fi connection is mandatory. I then considered the possibility of an ad-hoc network, and using my Mac decided to give it a go. The results were incredibly good, with virtually no delay whatsoever, no dropped input and a rather easy setup.


Unfortunately I haven’t tested this on Windows, but there’s no reason it wouldn’t work just as well. On Mac OS X, this is how I did it:

  • Click on the Wi-Fi indicator in the menubar at the top of the screen and click Create Network…

iphone joypad

  • I’d recommend using the default name, choose whether you want security or not (I chose to not use security).

joypad legacy mac

  • Create the network and then on your iPhone scan for Wi-Fi (Settings > Wireless).
  • Before connecting, tap the blue arrow next to the ad-hoc network you have just created.
  • Instead of DHCP choose Static and in the IP Address field input the IP address that appears on your Mac (you can find this under System Preferences > Network > Wi-Fi.
  • Under the subnet mask (assuming your Mac created the subnet of, it probably did) enter
  • Tap Wi-Fi in the top left corner and connect to the network as you would normally.
  • Launch Joypad Legacy on your iPhone and check you’re connected under Joypad Connect on your Mac.

You should only ever have to do this once provided you use the same name under the Create Network… wizard. Time to try out some games!


If your performance is adequate under a standard wireless network then you might not want to bother with this last bit, though bare in mind this ad-hoc approach turns your Mac (and Windows PC, provided you do it properly) into a truly mobile gaming machine wherever you are.

Let us know what you think of Joypad Legacy and Joypad Connect (as well as any tips for Windows users looking to use the ad-hoc approach) in the comments, below.

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  1. Fico
    January 10, 2015 at 4:55 am

    can be used in steam games as "injustice". if that is how I set it up using a windows pc

  2. Kris Dubbs
    April 21, 2013 at 4:10 am

    I have the SNES9x emulator too, but it doesn't show up in the toplist when I start up Joypad Connect (my VisualBoyAdvance does, and works fine with my Iphone). Do you have any suggestions to make it show up? Also, where'd you download your emulator from, I may just try re-downloading it from a different source if i don't find a solution.

    • Tim Brookes
      April 21, 2013 at 11:50 pm

      Well Snes9X appears in the list of configurations for the latest version of Joypad Connect... I've just launched it and can see it now. You could always click New Configuration and cross-reference the controls from Snes9X? Should only have to do it once and then you can just select it each time.

      As for where to download... I can't remember where I got mine from but CNET downloads has it, last released version from 2011. Works fine in Mountain Lion!

  3. Jacques Knipe
    January 25, 2013 at 5:39 am

    Times like these when I wish I had an iPhone... never mind I'm over it. Anyway, it might not be practical but it's still a nice little extra feature.

  4. Gian Singh
    January 24, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    Cool but it doesnt seem like somthing very practical and precise for gamers.

  5. Austin Beatty
    January 24, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Nice idea, but I really don't like touchscreen d-pads/analog sticks and buttons, they just don't work too well in my opinion. I'd much rather use a keyboard even. But ideally, using a PS3 controller, a Wiimote, or any USB gamepad is best in my opinion. But hey, if you like touchscreens for that, go for it :) It's just not for me.

    • Tim Brookes
      January 25, 2013 at 8:24 am

      Yeah it can be a bit difficult to get started with, but if you can train your hands not to wander across the surface then it gets a lot better. Arguably it works better for simple, old-school games on the NES, SNES and Genesis systems than it does for complex N64 titles or even new games.

      • Austin Beatty
        January 25, 2013 at 6:12 pm

        For me, I've had the opposite experience. Playing emulators on my phone (a bit different, but same idea), I find it easier to control analog based games like Ocarina of Time than games that require quick, precise movements, like Super Mario World. Any 2D platformer like Mario or Donkey Kong Country was completely unplayable. Super Mario 64 however, was difficult, but still playable. Some very simple games though, like Arcade shooters (Galaga is one I tried) do work quite well though.

        I'd still rather use a keyboard in most games, except maybe ones with analog controls, although nothing comes close to a real controller, especially for 2D platformers like Super Mario Bros, which I find almost unplayable on anything but a real controller.