How to Use a Playstation 4 Controller with Mac in OS X El Capitan & Yosemite

Mar 18, 2015 - 14 Comments

Use a PS4 Controller with a Mac

Many Mac users have a gaming console or two as well, and if it happens to be a Playstation 4, then you’ll find that using that PS4 controller with OS X is incredibly simple. This basically means your DualShock Playstation 4 controller will work as a native game controller for any supported game running on a Mac, ranging from native OS X games to emulators. It works very well, and since many of us prefer to play games with a controller it’s a great way to extend the value of a pricey PS4 purchase.


You can use the Playstation 4 controller either wirelessly through Bluetooth or wired with USB, both are easy to setup and work just fine once configured, so it’s just a matter of personal preference, though many users will prefer the wireless approach. We’ll cover that first, but if you want to use the USB approach we’ll take care of that as well. Either way you can play games on the Mac display or a connected TV, and it’s pretty great. To be clear, this works in just about all versions of OS X, we’re focusing on new versions with OS X El Capitan, OS X Yosemite and OS X Mavericks, but the steps are basically the same in other versions too.

Connect PS4 Controller Wirelessly to Mac with Bluetooth

You’ll want to pair the Playstation 4 controller to the Mac with Bluetooth before attempting to play any game, this only takes a moment:

  1. Open the Bluetooth preference panel in OS X, accessible from  > System Preferences
  2. Turn on Bluetooth in OS X if you haven’t done so yet, you can do that through the System Preference panel or the Bluetooth menu bar item
  3. Hold down the Playstation “PS” button and the “Share” button until the light at the top of the controller starts blinking quickly in a pulse fashion, this places the controller into pairing mode
  4. Connect the PS4 Controller to the Mac by placing it in pairing mode

  5. The Mac should quickly detect the controller and it will appear in the Bluetooth devices list as “Wireless Controller” or “PLAYSTATION(4) Controller” to pair the PS4 controller
  6. Playstation 4 Controller in Mac OS X

  7. Once it has appeared in the Devices list of Bluetooth panel, you can close System Preferences and use the controller as intended in your game(s) of choice

GTA San Andreas on Mac

You shouldn’t need to use the Bluetooth Setup Assistant, the controller typically is detected on it’s owns and works as soon as it’s paired. Prior versions of OS X may require the setup assistant or attempting to manually discover the PS4 controller, but the latest versions, including OS X Yosemite and OS X Mavericks, do this automatically.

Is the Bluetooth Preference Panel refusing to find the PS4 controller when used wirelessly? It’s probably simple, go here to fix Bluetooth discovery issues with OS X Yosemite using these steps.

Of course if the wireless approach doesn’t work at all for some reason, you can opt for a wired controller experience which is very easy to setup.

Connect the Playstation 4 Controller to Mac with USB

There’s basically no setup to this except in the game that you want to use the controller with. Because it’s somewhat game dependent, there’s no exact approach, but it’s generally something like this:

  1. Connect the PS4 controller to the Mac with the USB cable
  2. Open the game you want to play with the PS4 controller, then head to that games preferences or settings
  3. Look for a section in the games preferences regarding Controllers or Gamepad setup, configure the controller as desired and enjoy

ps4-controller

And there you have it, easy. Enjoy your gaming.

Don’t have a Playstation 4? Maybe another console instead? That’s ok, because Playstation 3 controllers work on a Mac, and Xbox One controllers do too, though the latter will require a bit more work to behave as intended.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Games, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

14 Comments

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  1. Arock says:

    I connected my DS PS4 controller via USB first, then turned on the Pairing / Syncing thing by holding down both buttons, that was recognized by Bluetooth on the Mac and then it worked immediately as a wireless controller. I remember doing the same for PS3 controllers too.

    Great tip and really nice if you use HDMI output to a TV, good way to play some of the classics like GTA and KOTOR with better graphic output compared to the origin console.

    • Foal says:

      Great thing about this too is you can use regular 3.5mm headphones with a PS4 controller too.

      Yes, that means you can use your white earbuds from Apple, with a PS4 controller, with your Mac. So great.

  2. Gilgamesh says:

    Great controller, just wish I knew how to interface with it (programmatically).

  3. Mike says:

    Unfortunately a lot of Steam games don’t support the PS controllers yet the xbox controllers. You should keep that in mind, when buying.

  4. Mike says:

    Is vibration working with the ps4 controllers on osx? It’s not with the ps3 controllers…

  5. a Martin says:

    It’s just a bit sad the battery life of the PS4 controller is so much worse than the PS3 controller. Anyway, to get close to limitless possibilities with the controller once connected to the Mac I can really recommend ControllerMate: http://www.orderedbytes.com/controllermate/

    It’s a bit daunting to get the hang of how it works at first, but it’s very powerful. I’m using a PS3 controller (over Bluetooth) with the Mac I have connected to my TV and I can use the left analog stick to steer the mouse cursor. Also have left/right click set up on the buttons so no need for using a mouse. :)

    A good thing to remember is that (as far as I know) the controller will stay on until you turn it off when connected to a Mac over Bluetooth, so don’t remember to manually turn it of after use (hold down the PS button for about 10 seconds), otherwise the batteries will drain.

    • a Martin says:

      Moderators: Please move the smiley to after ”mouse” and change my typo ”turn it of” to ”turn it off”.

      Always typing mistakes that aren’t seen until it’s too late… :(

  6. thedecline says:

    Can anyone confirm the DS4 controller is working in Yosemite 10.10.2?

    My DS3 controller is not recognized by Yosemite and none of the controller buttons work at all – on USB or bluetooth.

  7. Ricardo says:

    Excellent Tutorial..working like a charm :)

  8. lupuss says:

    Some games offer play for 2 controllers. How do I connect two PS4 controllers? I tried 2xUSB, but the game would not recognize the second PS4 controller.

  9. Nicolas says:

    Hey,

    Thx for this tutorial, but something bothering me.
    Bluetooth works perfectly but the vibration is not effective.

    Is someone have the solution for fix this ?

    Thanks !

  10. Abrielle Qhite says:

    It does not work with OPEN EMU, an emulator for Mac

    • Tiddles says:

      PS4 controller works great with OpenEMU, I use one to play SNES games. Be sure you connect the controller to the Mac first as described, then configure it with Open EMU

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