How to use your PS5 DualSense Controller on your PC
The PS5’s DualSense controllers are pretty fantastic. They feel great in the hand, have a nice weight to them, and have some really fantastic features that no other controller on the market has. Even better, it can be used as an all-purpose controller for PC gaming as well. There are a few limitations, but even so, it’s a fantastic controller for PC gaming. So here’s how to get it all set up.
How do I connect a PS5 controller to my PC?
There are two ways you can connect your PS5 controller to your PC: wired and wireless.
Wired is easy. Simply hook up your PS5 DualSense controller to any data transmitting USB-C to USB-A cable and plug it into any of your computer’s USB ports (you can also do USB-C to USB-C if your computer has USB-C ports built right in). The controller will hook up and register as a generic Wireless Controller using DirectInput. The cable that comes with the PS5 works just fine, but note, purchasing a DualSense alone doesn’t come with a cable included, so you will have to buy your own.
To connect wirelessly, your computer needs to have Bluetooth capabilities. You can purchase USB Bluetooth dongles for $10-$20 if it doesn’t have them built-in.
Then you’ll need to press and hold the PlayStation button and the Share button (the recessed button underneath the touchpad and the small button immediately to the left of the touchpad) on the DualSense. Do this for a few seconds and the touchpad will start blinking. It is now discoverable by your computer or any other device with Bluetooth capability.
Head into the Windows Bluetooth device menu, choose to add a device, and you should see “Wireless Controller” on the list of available devices. Click it and you’ll be all paired up. You can use this same method to connect the DualSense to mobile devices such as phones and tablets as well.
Note, after you connect the DualSense this way it will stay on until the device it is connected to is turned off. If you don’t want to run it out of power, either disconnect it from the Bluetooth device window or hold down the PlayStation button for about ten seconds and the DualSense will shut itself off.
What limitations does the DualSense have when being used on a PC?
The PS5’s DualSense controller is a Directinput controller, which means that any games that require Microsoft’s XInput controllers won’t work without third-party intervention. Luckily, most games can use DirectInput controllers these days, and even more, luckily, there are ways around this problem even if they don’t.
The most common solution is the most common way to purchase games on the PC: Steam. Steam has built-in software that translates DirectInput controllers into Xinput. Just go into Steam’s controller settings and make sure that “PlayStation Configuration Support” is checked and your DualSense is basically plug-and-play.
You can use Steam’s software on non-Steam games by simply choosing to add them to your Steam library. Launch them via Steam and your controller should work fine.
If you don’t use Steam, a third-party tool DS4Windows, which has been translating DualShock 4 inputs into Xinput for the last gaming generation, now has DualSense support. It also has JoyCon support too, if you happen to also own a Switch.
And if you don’t like doing things software side, 8BitDo sells a variety of dongles that will convert your PS5 controller into DirectInput for you. Some even let you use it on other consoles, like the Xbox Series X and Switch.
Even when you have this whole DirectInput/Xinput thing figured out, there are still some things that the controller cannot do. For example, you cannot use the touchpad (though DS4Windows together with other software like InputMapper can be kludged together to allow you to use the touchpad as a mouse). You also cannot take advantage of the haptic triggers or positional rumble. You can, however, make use of the controller as an audio device, playing audio through its speaker and using its built-in microphone to communicate with others. In fact, it’s the built-in microphone that makes it one of the best controllers for PC gaming, simply because it reduces the number of peripherals you need by one.