Here's how to use your existing console controllers with a Windows PC!

Although a mouse and keyboard are the generally accepted input for a number of PC games, gamepads are still a commonly used input method across a range of titles. While some people just prefer using a controller, they're also making a comeback with a majority of seated virtual reality experiences.

If you're a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One user, you can also use your existing controllers with your PC. With a few simple steps for both controllers, here's how to get them working on your Windows PC!

Xbox One controller

The Xbox One controller is one of the easiest controllers to use with Windows, with support directly baked into Windows 10. Both Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs can also use the controllers, albeit in a slightly more complex manner. Xbox One controllers also offer greater compatibility than most other gamepads, including Sony's DualShock 4 controller.

Connect your Xbox One controller over Micro-USB

Connecting your Xbox One controller to your PC is easiest with a physical USB to Micro-USB cable. With drivers being easily available for recent versions of Windows, the controllers can be simply hooked up for a 'Plug and Play' experience.

  • If you're using Windows 10, the drivers for the Xbox One controller are pre-installed alongside the operating system. These are also automatically updated through the Xbox Accessories application.

  • Windows 7 and Windows 8 users can also use the Xbox One controller with ease, through an automatic download for both operating systems. After hooking the controller up to your PC, the required drivers will automatically install.

If you're having issues when obtaining the drivers automatically, these can also be manually installed via the Xbox site.

Connect your Xbox One controller with the Xbox Wireless Adapter

If you'd prefer to use any Xbox One controller wirelessly with a PC, a wireless adapter is available for purchase from Microsoft. As a separate dongle which connects over USB, up to eight wireless controllers can be connected at a single time.

The Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows can be used on either Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10, supporting all Xbox One controller models. Although a limited number of recent controllers also have additional support for Bluetooth, this adapter allows your PC to tap into the proprietary wireless connection which all Xbox One controllers support.

To get started with the Xbox Wireless Adapter, simply follow the steps below.

  1. Plug the Xbox Wireless Adapter into your Windows PC.
  2. Wait for the adapter to be detected and drivers will automatically install.
  3. To bind your controller, press the bind button on both the adapter and controller.
  4. Wait until the devices detect one another and you'll be ready to go!

Connect your Xbox One controller over Bluetooth

Alongside the launch of Microsoft's Xbox One S this year, the company also introduced a new streamlined controller to fit the new console's design. This version of the controller also came with some reworked internals, including the ability to connect to devices over Bluetooth. If your controller is among these newer models, (indicated by a smooth single faceplate which covers the top of the controller) connecting it to your PC doesn't require the Xbox Wireless Adapter.

Here's how to get your Xbox One controller connected over Bluetooth:

  1. For the best results, ensure the latest version of Windows 10 is installed.
  2. Press the Xbox button to turn on your controller.
  3. Press the controller binding button on the top of your controller for three seconds.
  4. Navigate to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth.
  5. Choose Xbox Wireless Controller from the list of available devices and select Pair.

PlayStation DualShock 4 controller

Although Sony's PlayStation controllers don't have native support for Windows, several workarounds are available which allow the controller to be connected to your PC. In order to experience the best result, you'll be having to reach out for third-party solutions.

A PlayStation DualShock 4 controller wireless adapter is also available for Windows, but isn't recommended due to its limited compatibility with PC titles. Designed to work the company's game streaming service, PlayStation Now, the DualShock 4 cannot be used with a majority of titles when using this adapter.

Connect your PlayStation DualShock 4 controller over Micro-USB

While the PlayStation 4's DualShock 4 controller is usable on PC, direct support isn't currently available with Windows 10. Although the controller can be easily connected to Windows, mapping controller inputs to accurate in-game controls has proven to be rather challenging.

To get your controller working on your PC, a third-party program known as DS4Windows has emerged as the preferred workaround. As a simple program, which helps the controller emulate an Xbox 360 gamepad, only a few steps are required to get the controller working.

  1. Download the DS4Windows ZIP file from the following source.
  2. Extract the downloaded ZIP file to find two programs – DS4Windows and DS4Updater
  3. Launch DS4Windows.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions provided by the wizard to complete the installation. When asked to connect your controller, use a USB to Micro-USB cable.

Connect your PlayStation DualShock 4 controller over Bluetooth

With in-built Bluetooth across all versions of the DualShock 4, your controller can also be connected wirelessly over Bluetooth. Like a wired connection, the DualShock controller is best used with DS4Windows.

Pair your controller to your PC using the following steps:

  1. Make sure the PlayStation controller is turned off.
  2. Hold down the PlayStation button and Share button simultaneously. Your controller's light bar will begin flashing to indicate it's in pairing mode.
  3. Once in pairing mode, navigate to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth.
  4. Choose Wireless Controller from the list of available devices and select Pair.

Once connected, the DS4Windows installation process is mostly identical to the method for a wired controller.

  1. Download the DS4Windows ZIP file from the following source.
  2. Extract the downloaded ZIP file to find two programs – DS4Windows and DS4Updater
  3. Launch DS4Windows.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions provided by the wizard to complete the installation.

While we've only looked over the installation steps for both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers, a number of third-party controller alternatives are also on the market. If you're encountering any issues with the steps we've provided above, make sure to leave a comment below!