More and more people are making the move from console to PC for gaming, simply because a powerful gaming PC can produce better graphics and frame rates than what can be achieved by both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. However, console converts can struggle with using a keyboard and mouse for gaming, especially those of us that have been using controllers for years. Could we use the DualShock 4 controller to play games on PC? Technically yes, but it’s not as straight forward as we’d hope. Also see: How to use PS4 Remote Play on PC.
• Download and install InputMapper
• Connect your PS4 controller to the PC via USB or Bluetooth
• Open InputMapper and get playing
How to use a DualShock 4 controller on PC: Is my DualShock 4 controller compatible with PC? What about Mac?
Let’s turn back time to the announcement of the DualShock 4 controller in February 2013. The successor to the PlayStation 3’s DualShock 3 controller was announced during a Sony press conference to excited fans watching around the world. The new DualShock 4 added features like a 3.5mm jack for headphone/mic suport, redesigned trigger buttons, a lightbar, and of course, the touchpad. It was also a lot better looking than its predecessor, and was a lot more comfortable to use over long periods of time – what wasn’t to like?
As well as all the above features, Sony also announced – much to the delight of gamers around the world – that the DualShock 4 controller would be compatible with Windows. It meant that gamers wouldn’t have to fork out for extra accessories, and gave them the freedom to switch between the two platforms, or so they thought. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite the plug-and-play solution that we thought it’d be, and using a DualShock 4 controller on a PC takes a bit of work if the game doesn’t specifically have DualShock 4 support. See below for more information.
But what about Mac gamers? Could they use the DualShock 4 controller for Mac gaming? Technically yes, it is possible to connect your DualShock 4 controller to your Mac, both via USB and Bluetooth, and your Mac will recognise it as a gamepad, however it gets a bit more complex from that point on.
You see, Windows has the advantage of having the XInput API built into its OS, which is what makes Xbox controllers compatible with Windows, and is what programmers use to make PS4 controllers work on Windows (we’ll come to that in detail below), but the same can’t be said for Mac. So yes, while the DualShock 4 will be recognised as a gamepad, it’ll be a lot harder to find games that have controller support, and they may require some time tweaking settings before it works properly.
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How to use a DualShock 4 controller on PC
As mentioned above, although the DualShock 4 has Windows compatibility, game developers have to specifically add support for it, or it won’t work – at all. Alas, there is light at the end of the tunnel as there’s now an application available that will map the DualShock 4 controls directly to Microsoft’s XInput API. The end result is that games are ‘tricked’ into thinking you’re using an Xbox 360 controller, and you’ll be free to play as many games with your DualShock 4 controller as your heart desires.
So, what is this application and how do you use it? Well…
1) Download and install InputMapper. The first step is to head over to the InputMapper website, download the latest version of the tool and install it on your PC.
2) Connect your DualShock 4 controller. Once you’ve installed InputMapper, the next step is to connect your controller to your PC. You can do this via a USB connection or via Bluetooth, but it’s worth bearing in mind that a Bluetooth connection isn’t as stable as a wired one. However, if you’re adamant on connecting via Bluetooth, just hold the Share button and PlayStation button on the controller until the light flashes to enter pairing mode, then pair with it on your PC.
3) Open InputMapper and get ready to game. Now that you’ve installed InputMapper and connected your DualShock 4 controller, it’s finally time to open the application. Upon opening InputMapper, your DualShock 4 controller should be recognised, and should function identically to an Xbox 360/One controller (in most cases anyway).
It’s worth noting that you may encounter the odd game here and there that has compatibility issues. If this issue arises, head into the Settings menu of InputMapper and toggle the checkbox labelled “Use Exclusive Mode”. If you want to customise your gaming experience and remap your buttons (and create macros), this can be done via the Profiles menu within the application.
While InputMapper is a lifesaver for those of us that have DualShock 4 controllers and a PC, it’s still a work in progress. With that being said, InputMapper has to be open every time you want to play a game. While it may seem like a hassle, there’s an option within the application to allow it to start up minimised whenever Windows boots up. Also, as its designed to mimic Xbox controls, you’ll most likely see A and B button graphics in game, opposed to X and O.
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How to use a DualShock 4 controller on PC: What is the alternative?
So, are there any alternatives to using InputMapper and a DualShock 4 controller? The only simple alternative that we can suggest is to, sadly, buy an Xbox 360/One controller to use for PC gaming. Microsoft’s XInput API makes gaming with an Xbox 360/One controller such a simplistic experience, you sometimes forget you’re playing on a PC and not an Xbox.
Although even with Microsoft’s own controllers, there is a downside – the controller has to be plugged in via a USB, with no wireless connection available by default. With that being said, Microsoft has recently announced that it will be selling a wireless PC adapter for the Xbox One controller this Autumn for $25 (no UK pricing available).
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