How to connect a PS5 DualSense controller to your Windows PC
Many would argue that the best way to play games on a PC is using a mouse and keyboard. This combination does offer a ton of control options, and for many games, a level of precision you can’t get with analog sticks. If not that, then the Xbox Wireless Controller has typically been the go-to for PC gaming. It integrates perfectly with Windows and most PC games so everything works out of the box — plus it’s arguably the most comfortable controller out there. But if you own a PlayStation 5 (somehow) and you want to use that PS5 controller with your PC, you can connect it, too.
The PlayStation 5 comes with the new DualSense controller, which is a significantly different design from its predecessors. It’s a bit more ergonomic than the previous DualShock models, so it totally makes sense to use a controller you already have instead of buying a new one. And connecting the controller to your PC is very easy, too. It’s the setup process after that that may take a bit more work. Here’s what you need to do.
Connecting the PS5 controller to your PC
There are two ways to connect the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller to your PC. The easiest is to simply plug in using the USB Type-C port on the controller and a USB port on your PC. As long as you have a cable lying around, which you probably do, you’re ready to go.
If you want to go wireless, though, the PlayStation 5 controller also supports Bluetooth, so you can connect that way. Connecting a controller this way is still fairly straightforward. Here’s how it goes:
- Open the Settings app on your PC and go to the Bluetooth & devices section (in Windows 11) or Devices (in Windows 10).
- Click Add device at the top of the page.
- Choose Bluetooth in the window that pops up to start searching for devices.
- Enter pairing mode on the PlayStation 5 controller by holding the PlayStation and Share buttons at the same time until the lights around the touchpad turn on.
- On your PC, the controller should appear as Wireless controller. Select it and wait for the connection to finish.
Now your controller is connected to your PC, but the experience isn’t exactly seamless from here. Windows is designed to specifically work with one kind of input, and that’s based on the Xbox Wireless Controller, so that’s what most games support out of the box. Thankfully, there are solutions for this.
Setting up your controller with Steam
Steam is the most popular gaming platform on PC, and one of the great things it does is add support for various controllers that Windows doesn’t support very well out of the box. The PlayStation 5 DualSense is one of those controllers, and you can easily set it up using Steam’s own configuration tool. That also means you can probably use the controller with most of your games since Steam has a very extensive library of titles. In fact, even non-Steam games can work this way. If you haven’t yet, you can download Steam here.
Support for these additional controllers isn’t enabled out of the box, though. You’ll need to go into the Steam settings to enable it:
- Launch Steam and, from the main window, click Steam > Settings
- Open the Controller tab on the side menu bar.
- Click General controller settings.
- Enable the PlayStation configuration support option in the window that pops up.
- Click Back and then OK to close the Steam settings window. Now you’re ready to configure your PlayStation controller in a game.
- Launch the game you want to play and press the PlayStation button on your controller. This will open the Steam controller configuration page, where you can assign any of the buttons and sticks to any action you want. You can even make use of the touchpad and the gyro sensor inside the DualSense, two things Xbox controllers don’t offer.
- The controller configuration page may only work in Steam’s Big Picture mode. You can enter this mode before starting a game by clicking View > Big Picture Mode in the main Steam window.
Now, say you have a game installed from outside of Steam, such as from the Epic Games Store. You can still use this method to configure your PlayStation 5 controller. All you need to do is open Steam and then click Games > Add a non-Steam game to My Library.
This will let you use the Steam configuration tool with almost any non-Steam game. However, there may be some exceptions, specifically Microsoft Store games. Because these games aren’t stored in user-accessible folders, they’re not as easy to add to your Steam library.
Set up your controller using DS4Windows
Another option to get your PS5 (or PS4) controller working on your Windows PC is to use an app called DS4Windows. This is specifically designed to make third-party controllers such as Sony’s DualShock 4 and DualSense, be recognized by the computer as Xbox 360 controllers (which are fundamentally the same as the latest Xbox controllers).
Setting things up is fairly easy. You simply need to download DS4Windows from GitHub and install it. The program will install some required drivers to make your PS5 controller be recognized as an Xbox controller, which may require a reboot, but once you connect your controller again, you’ll be good to go. The controls on your controller will be automatically mapped to the equivalent on Xbox, but you can configure different profiles so the buttons are mapped in the most comfortable way for you.
One thing to note is that if you’re trying to use DS4Windows in Steam games, you’ll need to disable both PlayStation and Xbox controller configuration support in the Steam settings in order for things to work normally.
That’s about all you need to know about connecting your PS5 controller to your PC. Whether you’re a bigger fan of the PlayStation controller designs or you simply want to use a controller you already have, this is a great way to get a similar experience to what Xbox controllers usually offer on Windows.
If you’re looking to play the latest and greatest games on your PC, you may also want some new hardware that can handle them. Check out our list of the best gaming laptops if you’re looking to buy a new one. And if you’d rather turn to cloud gaming, we have a more general list of the best laptops if you want something that’s not as heavy.