How to use game controllers with your PC

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If you’re thinking of using a game controller on your PC (whether you’re an Xbox or PlayStation loyalist), you’re probably after a certain experience, such as a third-person driving or adventure game.

But I know why you’re here, you’re not sure how to do it. It is actually very easy and there are several ways you can do it. In this article, we’ll focus on Xbox and PlayStation layout consoles.

The easiest way to connect game consoles to PC

The easiest way to connect game controllers to your computer, whether it’s an Xbox console or a PlayStation console, is through a wired connection – usually a USB-A to USB-C cable (or whatever connector your console uses) .

Simply plug the console into your PC, turn it on and start playing. Your console will work in supported games, although the game you are playing does not support the console, you may have to download an additional app.

Connecting the controller to your computer reduces the need to connect it via a wireless signal or Bluetooth and also removes battery requirements, as you will be able to use the controller without charging or inserting a battery.

Of course, this is actually a file Just Solution for some controllers. Some third-party console manufacturers, such as Power A, develop game controllers without a battery, so they must be plugged in at all times.

You may want to not use the wire as well. Taking out the cord at an inconvenient time is never a good idea, so if you have the luxury of using your console wirelessly, we’ll walk you through how to do it below.

How to use the Xbox controller wirelessly on PC

It’s incredibly easy to wirelessly connect an Xbox One or Xbox Series X console to a Windows 10 or Windows 11 PC, with two options available: wireless (through your Xbox’s wireless signal) or Bluetooth. Yes, there is a difference.

Since it is no longer supported, we will be excluding Xbox 360 consoles from this game guide. These controllers can be connected through a wired connection but not wirelessly.

Let’s start with the Xbox Wireless method.

Connect your Xbox controller to your PC wirelessly

On some laptops and pre-built PCs, Xbox Wireless support comes native, but on most gaming PCs you’ll likely need an extra dongle. These devices cost around $30 for the official dongle, however, and are essential for wireless functionality (again, separate from Bluetooth). You can buy one from Amazon or directly from Microsoft.

On your Windows 10 or Windows 11 PC, go to Settings > Hardware > Bluetooth and other devices. click Add Bluetooth or any other devicethen tap everything else. It will start searching for your console, for which you need to activate the pairing mode.

Turn on your Xbox console and hold down the pairing ((() button on the back, just above the port. The light will begin to flash as it searches for the computers to connect.

Back on your computer, one of three things will happen:

  • You’ll see your Xbox console appear in the Settings menu, which you’ll then need to tap to connect to it
  • You’ll see your Xbox console appear with a notification in the corner of your screen, which you’ll then need to tap to connect to it
  • It won’t work, in which case keep trying or investigate issues.

You will also need to have the Xbox Accessories app installed on your PC, which will apply updates to the console.

Connect your Xbox controller to your computer via Bluetooth

It’s a little easier to connect your Xbox console to your PC through Bluetooth, just make sure your PC supports Bluetooth. If it doesn’t, buy a dongle.

On your Windows 10 or Windows 11 PC, go to Settings > Hardware > Bluetooth and other devices. click Add Bluetooth or any other devicethen tap Bluetooth. It will start searching for your console, for which you need to activate the Bluetooth mode.

Turn on your Xbox console and double-press the pairing ((() button on the back, just above the port. The light will begin to flash as it searches for the computers to connect.

Back on your computer, you’ll see an Xbox console appear, which you’ll then need to click to connect to it. That’s it really.

Just keep in mind that if you’re using your Xbox console over Bluetooth, you won’t be able to use console vibration or wired audio through the AUX port for control. These are available via a wired connection or Xbox Wireless connection, but not via Bluetooth.

How to connect a PlayStation console to your PC

For the PlayStation section of this article, we will focus on the PS4 Dualshock 4 console and the PS5 Dualshock 5 console. Although these consoles were not developed by a Microsoft subsidiary, and therefore do not have the same level of computer support as Xbox consoles, However, it works well on PC in a wide variety of games.

The simple solution, as mentioned earlier, is to connect your console to your computer via a wired connection. If the game you choose to play supports the console, it will work just fine. If it doesn’t, you’ll likely need to download something like DS4Windows or use native Steam support (Steam games only). Also, keep in mind that the Dualsense controller’s improved tactile feel is not available on PC – that’s only on PS5, I’m afraid.

To wirelessly connect your PS4 or PS5 controller to your Windows 10/11 PC, start by going to Settings > Hardware > Bluetooth and other devices. click Add Bluetooth or any other devicethen tap Bluetooth. It will start searching for your console, for which you need to activate the pairing mode. Note that you will need Bluetooth support or a Bluetooth dongle.

Next, press and hold the PS button and the Share button (the Create button on the Dualsense controller) until the controller light starts flashing (Welcome to pairing mode). Once you do that, click on your PlayStation controller (“Gamepad” or “Wireless Controller”) as it appears in your settings. You have now paired the console and you can now play games with it.

Easy! Most console games released on PC (such as Call of duty And Doctrine killerIt also comes with console support, so these days there’s no need to run an extra program in the background.

What console should I buy for PC?

Honestly, it mostly comes down to feeling these days, considering that most games come with some level of console support, albeit only partially. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Xbox Series X and Xbox One consoles feature removable AA batteries, while all PS4 and PS5 consoles are charged internally (you can charge them from your computer).
  • Xbox and PlayStation console designs are very different, which gives you more room for your thumbs in different places.
  • The functionality of a game console depends largely on the game you’re trying to play, although it’s not an issue these days.
  • If something is wrong with your console layout or your game of choice does not support PlayStation consoles, try DS4Windows.

Personally, I’ve switched from a PS4 console to an Xbox Series X console based on the functionality of the Xbox PC and the feel of the console, but it’s all up to you.

If you want to connect your console to a non-computer device, we have a guide on that here.

This article has been updated since it was first published.

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