Keen Mac gamers should consider hooking up Sony’s DualShock 4 or Microsoft’s Xbox One controller to a Mac to improve their gaming setup. Though it's not designed for use with Mac, it's easy to connect a PlayStation 4 controller to any macOS-equipped machine either using Bluetooth or a USB cable. And once you have a DualShock 4 controller connected to a Mac, you can use it to play Mac games in style.
It’s also possible to use an Xbox One controller - including the high-end Elite controller - but the setup and configuration process will take a little longer, although the announcement of official PS4 & Xbox One controller support coming to iOS 13 and tvOS 13 leaves us hopeful that macOS Catalina will introduce it too.
For now though, we’ll show you all the ways that you can use a PS4 or Xbox One controller on a Mac.
More interested in gaming on the Apple TV? Take a look at the best Apple TV game controllers that money can buy.
How to connect a PS4 controller to a Mac
So, how can I connect my PS4 DualShock 4 controller to my Mac to play macOS games? While there’s no Mac Plug’n’Play support for Sony’s DualShock 4 controller, there are still a few ways that you can connect your PS4 controller to your Mac and play your favourite macOS games.
Official wireless adapter
While there’s no plug and play support for the DualShock 4 on a Mac, Sony has released a wireless USB adapter that’ll enable wireless connectivity across PCs and Macs, although it’ll cost you around £20 at GAME (though it's much cheaper at the moment).
If you don’t want to fork out for the official accessory, there are other options available to you.
The easiest way to connect a PS4 controller to a Mac is to use a Micro USB cable. To do that, follow these steps:
- Use a Micro-USB cable to connect the PS4 controller to your Mac.
- Press the PlayStation button in the middle of the gamepad (to turn it on).
- Choose Apple > About this Mac.
- Click System Report.
- Choose USB.
- Look for Wireless Controller under USB.
If you can see Wireless Controller (it's called "wireless" even though it's connected via a cable), then your PS4 controller is connected to the Mac. It'll now work with any compatible games. It’s worth noting that Steam offers full DualShock 4 controller support across Mac and PC, meaning you won’t need to tweak any additional controller settings when playing a controller-supported Steam game.
Hooking up your PS4 to a Mac using Bluetooth is great because it enables you to game without the wire (and without buying the official adapter), allowing you to sit back and use the Mac just like you'd use a console.
Setting up a PS4 controller to a Mac via Bluetooth takes a bit more effort, but it's still not that difficult. Follow these steps to set up your DualShock 4 controller with a Mac wirelessly.
- Open System Preferences (Apple menu > System Preferences).
- Click Bluetooth.
- Put the PS4 controller in Discovery Mode by holding down the PlayStation button and Share button at the same time.
- The light on the front of the controller will flash quickly, and Wireless Controller will appear in the Bluetooth window. Click Pair.
The device will now say connected, and you'll see how. You can now use the PlayStation controller with the Mac.
How to connect an Xbox One controller to a Mac
Okay, so now we’ve established that it’s pretty easy to connect a DualShock 4 controller to a Mac, an Xbox One controller shouldn’t be much harder, should it? Sadly, that's not the case - even when using the official wireless adaptor.
Although connecting via Bluetooth is out of the question, there is a way to connect an Xbox One controller to a Mac via a micro-USB cable, but it’s a bit more complex than with Sony’s DualShock 4 controller.
- Head over to GitHub and download the most recent version of 360Controller (it supports both Xbox One and Xbox 360 controllers, don’t worry!).
- Open the .DMG file you downloaded and run the 360Controller installation package.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to install 360Controller. It’s worth noting that the installation requires a Mac restart, so make sure your files are saved before installing.
- Once the Mac has restarted, head to System Preferences (Apple menu > System Preferences) and select Xbox 360 Controllers – it should be a new icon at the bottom of the list.
- Plug in your Xbox One controller and tweak the button mapping as desired.
Once you’ve tweaked the mapping settings, save your preferences and close the System Preferences window. Now, simply load up your favourite controller-supported Mac game and enjoy!
Looking for games to play on-the-go? Take a look at our selection of the best iPhone & iPad games.