When you buy a new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/Series S console, you get an excellent game controller with it. They’re designed to perfectly complement their respective consoles, but both the PS5 DualSense Controller and the Xbox Wireless Controller can have a life beyond them.
If you want a controller to play games on your desktop or laptop, or you’re sick of touchscreen controls on your phone or tablet, then try using the best controller you already have. Before we dive into instructions on how to pair these controllers with your other devices, bear in mind that some controller features, like tension in the triggers and vibrations, may not work properly. You will also have to configure your controllers, and they won’t work with every game.
Updated November 2021: We've added instructions for pairing controllers with an iPhone or iPad, now that support was added.
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How to Pair a PS5 Controller With Windows 10
The easiest way to use your PS5 DualSense Controller with a Windows 10 desktop or laptop is to plug it in with a cable. All you need is a spare USB-A port on your computer, and you can use the USB-C to USB-A cable that came with your PS5.
Still, a wireless connection is likely preferable, and you can use Bluetooth to establish one, provided your computer has a Bluetooth receiver. Not sure? Click the speech bubble icon in the bottom-right corner of the taskbar to open the Windows Action Center and look for Bluetooth. If your computer doesn’t have it, you can pick up a Bluetooth dongle like this TP-Link USB Bluetooth Adapter for around $10.
Here’s how to connect the PS5 controller:
Start on your Windows 10 computer and type “Bluetooth” into your Windows search box at the bottom left of the taskbar.Select Bluetooth and other devices settings, make sure Bluetooth is toggled On. Click on Add Bluetooth or other device, then click Bluetooth.Pick up your controller and simultaneously hold down the Create button at the top left and the central PlayStation logo button for around three seconds.The light bar on the controller should start to blink rapidly, which means it’s in pairing mode.On your computer, you should see Wireless Controller pop up in the Add a device list, and you can click on it to pair.
The PS5 DualSense Controller is now paired with your Windows 10 machine. Unfortunately, audio doesn’t work through the controller automatically all the time. If that happens to you, simply tap the Speakers icon in your taskbar and click Select playback device, then choose your headphones or speakers from the list.
While the PS5 controller will work and is configurable in some games, you may find there are no configuration options with others. You can use Steam to get around that problem.
Configure a PS5 DualSense Controller With Steam
Steam offers support for the DualSense controller and should automatically detect any controller you have paired. Here’s how to get it working:
Open Steam and click on Steam at the top left. Click Settings, and choose Controller.Click on General Controller Settings and check the box next to PlayStation Configuration Support.You should see PlayStation 5 Controller listed under Detected Controllers. Click on it and you can calibrate and set up preferences.When you’re ready to play, click View and select Big Picture Mode in Steam (note that controller configuration is only available when you use Big Picture Mode). Launch your game.Press the PlayStation logo button in any game to bring up the Steam menu and select Controller Configuration to configure your DualSense controller.How to Use an Xbox Controller With Windows 10
You can plug your Xbox Wireless Controller into your Windows 10 machine with a USB-C to USB-A cable and start using it right away, but a wireless connection is better. With the Xbox controller, you have two options for wireless pairing.
For the best experience, you have to buy an Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows 10, which plugs directly into a USB port on your desktop or laptop. It supports up to eight controllers simultaneously, but, more importantly, it offers wireless stereo sound support, so you can plug a headset into the port on your controller. In theory, it may also offer a faster and more reliable connection than Bluetooth (though I didn’t have any lag issues when connecting with Bluetooth).
Here’s how to connect with the adapter:
Plug the Xbox Wireless Adapter into your computer.Press the Xbox button on the controller to turn it on.Press and hold the Pair button on the Xbox Wireless Adapter and you should see a light flashing.Press and hold the Pair button on the top of the Xbox controller, next to the USB-C port, and the Xbox button should start flashing rapidly.When the Xbox button on your controller light stays lit, that means it has successfully paired.
If you don’t need audio through the controller or just don’t want to spend the extra cash, you can pair your Xbox Wireless Controller via Bluetooth. Here’s how:
Turn on your Xbox controller by pressing the Xbox button.Switch to your Windows 10 computer and type Bluetooth into your Windows search box at the bottom left of the taskbar.Select Bluetooth and other devices settings, make sure Bluetooth is toggled On, and click on Add Bluetooth or other device, then click Bluetooth.Press and hold the Pair button on the top of the Xbox controller, next to the USB-C port, and the Xbox button should start flashing rapidly.Go back to your computer and you should see Xbox Wireless Controller pop up in the Add a device list, and you can click on it to pair.
You can get started with the controller now, and it should be configurable in some games, but you may find that it doesn’t always work. Thankfully, Microsoft has an app for configurations and for keeping your Xbox Wireless Controller up to date.
Configure an Xbox Controller With the Xbox Accessories App or Steam
The Xbox Accessories app is very straightforward, and it’s essential because it also enables you to install updates for your controller. Here’s what to do:
Download and install the Xbox Accessories app from the Microsoft Store on Windows 10.Plug your Xbox Wireless Controller into your computer via a cable.Open the Xbox Accessories app, and it should automatically update your Xbox Wireless Controller.Click Configure and New profile to remap buttons, invert sticks, swap sticks or triggers, and even turn off vibrations if you like.
You can also use Steam to configure your Xbox Wireless Controller. Here’s how:
Open Steam. Click on Steam at the top left, click Settings, and choose Controller.Click on General Controller Settings and check the box next to Xbox Configuration Support.It will appear as Xbox One Controller listed under Detected Controllers. Click on it and you can calibrate and set up preferences.You should also see a Define Layout option that enables you to remap everything to suit you.When you’re ready to play, click View and select Big Picture Mode in Steam. Launch your game.
A lot of games include configurations for the Xbox Wireless Controller, but if you run into issues, it’s always worth checking the in-game settings for controls.
How to Use Your Controller With an Android Device
If you’ve had it with touchscreens and crave a controller for your Android phone or tablet, you can pair a PS5 DualSense Controller or an Xbox Wireless Controller quite easily.
These instructions may differ slightly depending on your device, but it should go something like this:
Pull down the notification shade and long press on the Bluetooth icon. Alternatively, open Settings then Connected devices.Tap on Pair new device.For the PS5 DualSense controller, simultaneously hold down the Create button at the top left and the central PlayStation logo button for around three seconds. For the Xbox Wireless Controller, press the Xbox button to turn it on, then press and hold the Pair button on the top of the Xbox controller, next to the USB-C port.The light bar on the PS5 controller or the Xbox button on the Xbox controller should start to flash rapidly, indicating it’s in pairing mode.Go back to your Android device and look for Wireless Controller in the list and tap on it to pair.Most PopularThe 15 Best Electric Bikes for Every Kind of RideGear
It's worth noting that this isn't always super useful. Some Android games will have controller configurations, and others will give you the option to configure your controller, but many won’t work properly at all.
How to Use Your Controller With an iPhone or iPad
It's easy to pair a PS5 DualSense Controller or a new Xbox Wireless Controller with an iPhone or iPad, provided your iPhone is running iOS 14.5 or later (iPadOS 14.5 or later for iPads). Here's how:
On your iPhone or iPad, open Settings and tap Bluetooth.For the PS5 DualSense controller, simultaneously hold down the Create button at the top left and the central PlayStation logo button for around three seconds (you should see flashing blue lights on either side of the touch panel). For the Xbox Wireless Controller, press the Xbox button to turn it on, then press and hold the Pair button on the top of the Xbox controller, next to the USB-C port (you should see the Xbox button flash rapidly).Back on your iPhone or iPad, you should see DualSense Wireless Controller or Xbox Wireless Controller listed under Other Devices. Tap to pair.
Support for the Xbox Wireless Controller seems to be slightly better than for the DualSense, but expect some trial and error when figuring out the controls, and be aware that some iPhone or iPad games simply won't work with either controller.
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