Tutorial: Use your DualShock 4 with a Mac

iw4vdsmdppnguodkok3eDuring a Black Friday sale, I bought a blue DualShock 4 for the rather low price of $40 even though I don’t (yet) have a PlayStation 4. This is because I’d played with it extensively at a friend’s house and really liked it. For the best compatibility with games, the better choice might’ve been the Xbox 360 controller, but that’s less compatible with the Macintosh architecture itself, and comes with it’s own set of problems. I knew it’d be a hassle now and then, but I was willing to give the DualShock 4 a shot because of how great it is as a controller (but more of that in a future article). With the right tools, you can even get the DualShock 4 to work with games that don’t natively support it. Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first though:

Out of the box:
The DualShock 4 doesn’t actually come with a cord in the box. It simply uses a Micro USB cable though, so you may not need to buy one if you already have a phone that uses one to charge. This cord will charge the controller as well as provide connectivity if you opt not to use Bluetooth. Simply plug the controller into your Mac and you’re set. To my knowledge, you won’t need any drivers or setup.

Connect wirelessly:
Connecting your DualShock 4 wirelessly is almost as simple. Just turn on your DualShock 4 in the presence of your Mac (hit the PlayStation button between the two sticks). In a moment your Mac will prompt you to accept the pairing. Your controller should now be connected. To disconnect the controller without losing your settings, simply click on the Bluetooth icon in your Mac’s menu bar, find ‘Wireless Controller’ or ‘DualShock 4’ under the list of devices, and choose to disconnect it. This will also turn off the controller automatically. If you want to turn off the controller otherwise, you’d have to hold the PlayStation button until the lightbar turns off (around 5-10 seconds).

Some games work straightaway:
Here are some games and apps I know from personal experience to support the DualShock 4 natively:

As a general rule, games that were ported to Mac by Feral or Aspyr and are/were at some point on console are compatible with the DualShock 4. In the case of Feral, you can even email them if you want and they’ll give you a .plist file you can insert into their games to add DualShock 4 compatibility if it doesn’t fully work straightaway. You can find a list of some more Mac games at this link, but it isn’t comprehensive and I come across more and more fully-compatible games on a consistent basis. Note that most games, even if they work perfectly fine with DualShock, still show Xbox 360 button prompts on screen. It may be annoying at first, especially if you aren’t familiar with the Xbox controller, but you’ll get used to them eventually. I made a little PDF chart showing the corresponding inputs, but it’s pretty self-explanatory anyway.

If the Mac keeps going to sleep while in gameplay:
With certain games (Half Life 2 and BioShock Infinite, among others) the Mac doesn’t recognise the DualShock 4 as a valid input method, so it will fall asleep after a few minutes, thus interrupting your gaming session. To circumvent this, installing a free little app called Caffeine comes in handy. Basically, while it’s running, the Mac can’t go to sleep. Just make sure the little coffee cup icon in your menu bar is actually filled with coffee, or the app isn’t actually running.

If a game doesn’t work:
Hope is not lost! If the game doesn’t actually use the mouse cursor (i.e. camera control and weapon aiming is fine), you can still control it with the DualShock 4 using a little app called Joystick Mapper ($5 on the Mac App Store). I’d also recommend using Joystick Show ($1 on the Mac App Store) to figure out what buttons correspond to what number as well as to ensure your controller is connected and working. Here’s what it looks like in action:

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 8.12.37 PM

Basically, you can map buttons and axis changes to specific keyboard keys, mouse buttons, and mouse motions. It all works really well, and sometimes when I’m lazy, I actually use it to be able to lean back and surf the web! I used this setup to finish the last few hours of Skyrim, and also played the entirety of Spec Ops: The Line this way, so it’s certainly effective, if a little bit cumbersome to set up. I encountered some issues using it with Fallout 3, which is a PC game I set up to work using Wineskin. Maybe the combination of emulated Windows as well as emulated keyboard and mouse simply confused the computer!

Sometimes, you’re just out of luck: 
Like I said above with Fallout 3, sometimes a game simply won’t support your DualShock 4. Sometimes it has to do with glitchyness (Fallout 3 + Wineskin) or sometimes a game just relies on the mouse too much. For example, there’s no reason why you can’t use the DualShock 4 and Joystick Mapper to play Civilization V, but you’re really just better off using the mouse to click around.

That’s it! A general guide to get your DualShock 4 working with your favourite Mac games! What do you think? Do you have a DualShock 4? Have you had any luck gaming with it on a Mac/PC? Tell us in the comments!

If this article has you interested in buying a DualShock 4 from Amazon (where I got mine), please use the following link to let them know we sent you. Thanks for supporting Kantaloupe!

DualShock 4 Wireless Controller – Amazon

Until next time, be sure to check out our other videogame-related articles!

6 thoughts on “Tutorial: Use your DualShock 4 with a Mac

  1. I followed the tutorial instructions but have been unable to get Spec Ops: The Line to work correctly with my DualShock 4 and late model MacBook Pro Retina i7. The camera just spins rapidly and uncontrollably. All other buttons and functions seem to work. The game is just unplayable. I have tried Bluetooth and USB connections. I copied the settings for Joystick Mapper from the tutorial. What am I doing wrong?

  2. I could not get my DS4 PS4 Controller to work with Spec Ops: The Line. The camera just spun uncontrollably. I spent ages Googling this problem and trying various suggestions but nothing helped. I thought surely there must be a solution. Then I found this tutorial and all about Joystick Mapper . Something not mentioned in the tutorial that took me a while to discover is the key to getting the DS4 to work with Spec Ops: The Line was to select the Joystick Mapper preset but not enable the DS4 controller in Bluetooth until the game started. Then it was as simple as tapping the PS button on the controller to enable it.

    By the way, something else I learned along the way: if you need to temporarily jump out of Spec Ops to the desktop you need to hit “Command H” on the Mac keyboard.

    My Specs:
    Macbook Pro Retina 15 inch Mid 2014
    2.8GHz Intel i7
    16GB 1600MHz DDR3
    Intel Iris Pro 1536 MB

  3. Glad to hear you had some success! Yeah, not every game will have a perfect solution, but there are usually solutions that’ll at least be workable, if a little glitchy. For Spec Ops: The Line, my setup seemed a little iffy to begin with, but I beat the game in one night anyway, so I never had to set it up again!

  4. Did you ever figure out how to use the PS4 controller with Fallout 3? I just downloaded the PC version of Rocket League to use with Wineskin, and bought Joystick Mapper, but it still won’t recognize it in the game. 🙁

  5. when i try to use it in skyrim, it doesn’t work at all. none of the key presses are recognized, its like i don’t even have a controller hooked up

  6. Hmm… Are you using Joystick Mapper? If you are, do the button assignments work outside of the Skyrim application? Also, are you using a Wineskin version of Skyrim?

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