Random Thoughts – Randocity!

How to pair your PS4 controller wirelessly

Posted in Sony, video gaming by commorancy on July 31, 2015

DUALSHOCK 4We all know the drill. You’ve just run out and spent $65 for that new and oh-so-cool 500 Million Limited Edition DUALSHOCK 4 controller for your PS4. Well, now you’ve got to go through that hassle of pairing it with your console. But, why can’t I pair it wirelessly? You can. Let’s explore.

USB Pairing

The Sony recommended procedure of pairing your new controller to your PS4 is by plugging it into the console with the Sony USB cable and powering the PS4 with the power button. While that’s all well and good (or at least so Sony thinks), it’s a complete and utter hassle… especially when you have other controllers already working. If this is your only DS4 controller (i.e., no others working), you have two choices:

  • Pair your new controller with a cable
  • Pair it using flat screen’s remote control using HDMI-CEC (jump to CEC)

If you don’t have a flat screen with CEC or CEC is not enabled, you better go find that USB cable.

However, if you have more than one working controller, you can skip this hassle and go to …

… wait for it …

Wireless Pairing

PS4 DUALSHOCK 4 controllers are bluetooth devices and like all bluetooth devices you can pair them wirelessly. Of course, you can’t pair the device if it is the only device (see above), but if you happen to have other working devices to control your PS4 (like another controller or a media remote), you’re good to go to with wireless pairing.

Before you start this process, go to the PS4’s Settings => Devices => Bluetooth Devices area and leave it on this screen. On this screen you’ll see all your paired devices and this is also where all new unpaired devices will appear. Unpaired devices will have no grey or green dot next to them.

DS4PairingGuideHow to begin? Press and hold the PS button and the sharing button simultaneously. The sharing button is the small black oval button to the upper left of the touch pad labeled creatively enough SHARE. Press and hold the PS and sharing buttons until the lightbar begins to strobe quickly (approximately 3-5 seconds). While it’s quickly double strobing, it’s in the pairing state like any other bluetooth device. If the strobe is a slow on and off, then the controller is trying to connect to your PS4 or PC. This isn’t what you want. If it’s slow strobing, then you’ll need to wait until it stops to try again. Pressing the PS button before the share button could lead you into slow strobing. So, I would suggest pressing and holding the share button slightly before you press and hold the PS button to avoid triggering the slow strobe.

Once it’s double strobing, look at your screen under Bluetooth Devices and look for the DUALSHOCK 4 that has no dot (probably at the bottom of the PS4 screen). Using a working controller or remote, select the new controller and complete the pairing on the next screen.

If you don’t see your DUALSHOCK 4 device in the list, check to make sure the device is still in pairing mode. If not, put it in pairing mode. If it’s still in pairing mode, back out of that screen and then go back into it. This will force a search refresh for new devices. Hopefully it will appear now. If not, move closer to the PS4 with the new controller. If this all fails, use the USB pairing method above… again, time to go dig out that cable.

Once paired, you can now use the controller normally.

Don’t have access to your PS4?

I’ve had a number of comments on this article regarding corruption or rebuilding of a PS4 after a new hard drive insertion. Before you lose access to your PS4 entirely either because you failed to power off the unit properly, because the hard drive failed or because you replaced the hard drive, you should make sure you have some alternative form of PS4 XMB menu control. You have to remember to set this up while you still have a working PS4. You won’t be able to easily do some of these steps after you lose access and cannot find or do not have a proper microUSB pairing cable.

Note, if you are replacing the PS4’s hard drive, setting anything up in advance probably won’t work as the new hard drive will need to be reinstalled with a new operating system. So, any settings will be lost on hard drive replacement… skip down to Wired Controller below or be prepared with a PS4 compatible micro USB cable.

HDMI-CEC (control your PS4 with TV remote control)

Many flat screens today support control of the PS4 through the HDMI cable using your TV’s remote control. This is called HDMI-CEC or simply CEC. You must enable this on both your TV and on the PS4 while you have a controller that works. To enable this on your PS4, go to Settings=>General=>HDMI link and check this box. Now, go to your TV and enable CEC / HDMI Link to control the connected PS4 with your TV’s remote. Not all TV manufacturers call it CEC, some call it something with the word ‘Link’ in the name, but the protocol is standard. Once enabled, reboot your PS4 and then turn your TV off and then on.

Technomancer Screen Shot 7:20:16, 4.52 AM 2CEC control has changed in a recent PS4 system update. When you have CEC enabled, the remote is now considered a controller. Once you flip over to the PS4’s HDMI port on your TV, the PS4 should turn on. Once booted up, the remote control should present as a controller (see screenshot to the right). The screen should show your login ID. Press your ENTER or OK key on the remote to enter into the XMB menu. Apparently, Sony realized this intrinsic problem with CEC and updated the PS4 to now allow the remote control to be recognized as an XMB controller on the bootup screen. What this all means is that you can now fully control your PS4 with your TV’s remote control without needing a DS4 controller at all. With CEC, you can now pair your controller using your TV’s remote through settings. Though, I wouldn’t recommend trying to play games using your TV’s controller.

If the PS4’s screen does not show the login ID panel and simply has the words “Press the PS button to use the controller” in the middle of the screen, the PS4 has not recognized a controller. This can be for several reasons. If you powered the PS4 on before flipping to it via HDMI, the PS4 doesn’t see the TV as the controller. The device that powers the PS4 on is the device presented on the boot up screen. When you use a DS4 to power it on, the DS4 will show as the controller on the boot screen. When you use the the TV to switch to and power on the PS4, the TV’s controller becomes the default on this screen. If you can’t get the TV’s controller to show up at all, then you will need to skip down to the next section for pairing with a USB cable.

As mentioned above, you will need to set CEC up on your TV and the PS4 in advance to use this feature. If you have no functional gamepad controllers, your TV doesn’t support CEC or you haven’t set CEC up in advance, skip to USB pairing.

MicroUSB pairing cable

If you’re looking for something right away, you can stop by a store (or order online) and purchase a microUSB pairing cable. Sony offers an official cable that costs around $10. You can get a cable from the following places:

Wired Controller

If you’ve completely lost control to your PS4 through your Dual Shock 4 and you don’t have any other way to activate a PS button and you can’t seem to get your DS4 controllers paired with a cable, you will need to use a wired controller. There are only a few PS4 wired controllers on the market, but Hori makes a couple of gamepad versions.

While these gamepads are not as full featured as a Sony Dual Shock 4 (i.e., no light bar, no rumble, no speaker, no headset jack, etc), they will at least let you control your PS4 when nothing else will. Amazon also offers a few PS4 wired arcade-style stick controllers that may work. Make sure they have a PS button to launch the PS4’s XMB menu. Also, you will need to double-check that they are, in fact, wired controllers. While most third party controllers are wired, you’ll definitely want to read through the product description in the listings carefully to make sure it doesn’t use a wireless dongle. Though, a wireless dongle may work for controlling the PS4 for a short period of time, they may not work for long gaming sessions as they have tendencies to time out forcing the controller to be reconnected often.

Hori Pad FPS Pro Gamepad

I recently picked up a Hori Pad FPS Plus. This is a very nice controller with the exception of two things. First, the shoulder buttons take getting used to because they are pressure sensitive in a different way from the DS4’s trigger shoulder buttons. Because it takes a different amount of pressure to activate them, it feels different from the trigger controllers on the DS4. Once you get used to the pressure needed for these shoulder buttons, everything else is pretty much spot on including the touch pad. And, I like the reversed placement of the D-Pad and the left joystick (like the Xbox controller). This game pad is also well made and quite light in weight because it doesn’t have the lightbar, rumble or battery. I also like that I can continue to play without worry of running out of battery. The second issue, it won’t turn on the PS4 with the press of the PS button when the PS4 is off. For me, this is only a small problem because I have CEC enabled. Simply switching to the PS4’s HDMI port turns the PS4 on. Otherwise, you’ll need to get up and touch the power button or use a DS4 to turn it on and then use PS button on the Hori to get into the menu (the DS4 controller will automatically turn off when the Hori Pad logs in).

Note that there are other things the Hori Pad doesn’t have, like a headphone jack or a speaker. While I do like the speaker on the DS4, for me it doesn’t ruin the game without it. Yes, it is kind of cool when GTA5’s phone comes out of the DS4’s speaker, but it’s mostly a gimmick.

Dualshock 4 and Computers

Note, you can use this same pairing approach to pair this controller to other operating systems. For example, a Mac or Windows. The trouble, while the DS4 does pair, you still need a driver to map the buttons to make the controller useful. For this reason, it’s not that useful on a Mac yet, but you might try Joystick Mapper. I know the Joystick Mapper devs were working on an update to drive the DS4 controller on a Mac. For Windows, there’s InputMapper that does work.

As for pairing and using it on iOS or Android, it might pair but won’t be useful. Yes, some have managed to pair it, but it doesn’t seem to have any kind of drivers or support. I’d like to see Sony create a PS Vita gaming tablet that fully supports the DS4. That would be the best of all worlds. Skip iOS and Android and go right for a full out Sony gaming tablet. But, Sony definitely needs to get more gaming devs on board to bring the blockbuster titles. But, that’s another topic entirely.

Documentation

While I understand Sony’s reluctance to document a wireless pairing guide like this due to the need for an already working controller, I really don’t like having to locate that special Sony microUSB cable for this process. Not all microUSB cables are equal. If you don’t have the correct Sony PS4 (or compatible) cable, the pairing process above won’t work. Because this cable looks like all other black microUSB cables, you can easily mix them up or lose them. For that $65, I don’t understand why Sony can’t include a 3′ compatible cable in the box with the controller since the PS4 is so finicky about which cable will work.

I also don’t typically leave dangling cables hanging from my console for a variety of reasons including safety. So, locating this special pairing cable is not always quick in my house. I mean, one black cable looks like any other. Sony doesn’t specifically mark the cable well, so digging through a ton of microUSB cables trying to find that special Sony cable isn’t something I want to spend my time doing… especially when I already have a working controller.

When you have at least some kind of a functional controller, wireless pairing is a perfectly acceptable (and more efficient) alternative. Yet, Sony’s site mentions nothing of this process. That’s the reason I document it here.

[UPDATED: 6/11/2019] Controller Giveaway

Unfortunately, the controller giveaway didn’t reach the required 25 qualified subscriber entries to award the controller. However, I will randomly select one qualified subscriber to receive a $10 Amazon gift card. If you are a subscriber who entered, please check your email in the next 10 days as you may be the winner of this gift card. I will attempt to give the controller away again soon, so stay please tuned.

If this article helped you, please leave a comment below. If you had difficulties pairing your device, please let me know that too.

63 Responses

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  1. Justin said, on September 27, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    My USB and Ethernet ports do not work (fried in a power surge) but my controller is still synced. I’ve been playing games on it for the past few weeks by charging my controller to a wall outlet. It works for now but I’m worried about the future. It hasn’t happened in awhile but I recall there being instances in which I have to connect my controller to the PS4 via its wire in order to sync it to the PS4. I think this happens when Sony releases a firmware update but I’m not sure. If I don’t do something in advance to prevent that then I’ll sooner or later be locked out of my PS4. I just downloaded Second Screen on my iPhone and set that up. It works over the Internet as opposed to bluetooth. My question is, when the time comes and my PS4 tells me to connect my controller to the console via its usb cable, will I be able to use my phone to get past that screen and wirelessly sync the controller? If so then I won’t need to buy a new PS4.

    Like

    • commorancy said, on September 28, 2019 at 2:34 am

      Hi Justin,

      Thanks for your comment. While you mention having had to update your controller occasionally, I have almost never experienced that. In the entire time I’ve owned my PS4 (since it’s 2013 release), I’ve updated my controller once in all that time and it was my choice when it updated. It also only updated because I had plugged it in to a USB port which detected and then prompted for the update.

      I don’t think Sony is all that urgent when it comes to updating controller firmware. Sure, it’ll detect it if you plug it into a USB port, but it isn’t required very often. In fact, it’s not likely to require an update before the PS5 is released in or around 2020. In fact, Sony is probably so busy trying to ready the PS5’s release, I’d be highly surprised to see any new mandatory controller firmware updates before the PS5 launches next year.

      With that said, you have a bigger problem. I’ll talk about the bigger problem shortly. Let me address your question regarding control over your PS4. Most flat screen TVs use HDMI and offer a protocol named CEC (aka HDMI Link). More information about this is in the article above.

      This system not only allows the PS4 to control your TV screen, it also works vice versa. You can control your PS4 with your TV’s remote control. You must enable CEC / HDMI Link in the PS4’s settings area and on your TV, but once you get this set up, your TV’s remote control allows you to fully control your PS4’s dashboard via the HDMI connection. This system uses the infrared built into the TV via the TV’s remote to control the PS4 via HDMI. If you haven’t already, you should set this system up, assuming your TV supports CEC. This allows you to control your PS4’s dashboard and enter the settings area using only your TV’s remote control. This way, you can easily re-pair any controllers that might stop working (i.e., the battery in the controller completely dies, or the controller breaks and you need to replace it).

      The other way to handle this is to buy another PS4 controller and pair it up right now while you still have a working controller. No, you won’t be able to update the firmware via USB, but the PS4 doesn’t seem overly aggressive about forcing controller updates. This way, you have at least two DS4 controllers connected and ready. You’ll want to keep the controllers charged so they can’t lose their pairing information. If the battery completely dies in the controller, it may need to be re-paired.

      However, nothing guarantees that Sony could force a firmware update. Though, this would be problematic from a chicken-n-egg perspective. Sony could choose to push out a mandatory controller firmware update. There’s nothing that can stop Sony from doing this. At this point, you would need to connect your controller and update it. You don’t have to perform this update on your own PS4, however. You can take the controller to a friend’s house or even to a store like Gamestop and update it on their PS4. Then, head back to your house and use it.

      The Bigger Problem

      The larger problem I mentioned earlier is that you cannot make a backup without a functional USB port. To back up your saved games, you’ll want to use Sony’s PlayStation Plus Online Storage service. However, anything stored locally to your PS4’s hard drive would be lost without a backup. That means you’ll have to download all of your games again, all movies again, all content again on a new PS4. Unfortunately, you also can’t move your HD from one PS4 to another. According to a few PS4 forums, swapping the hard drive from one PS4 into another forces a reformat of the hard drive. It seems the PS4’s hard drive is tied specifically to the PS4 in which it currently resides. I believe that’s because Sony uses encryption tied to the old hardware which is invalidated when the hard drive is moved.

      That means you’ll want to make a backup of the data that is on that drive to avoid downloading all of your games, saved games and content again. Unfortunately, because your USB ports are fried, you can’t do this. The best you can do is use WiFi to backup your game saves to the PlayStation Plus Online Storage service. You will lose all of your unpublished video clips and screen shots unless you publish them to YouTube or post the images in a community. However, you will need to pay for the PlayStation Plus service yearly to use Sony’s PlayStation Plus Online Storage (cloud storage) service. At least, your saved games won’t be lost. However, everything else on the PS4’s hard drive will be lost if your PS4 stops working.

      Like

  2. Mark said, on April 18, 2019 at 12:42 am

    Hi commorancy, thanks for the post. Have you found a way to wirelessly pair the PS4 motion controllers?

    Like

    • commorancy said, on April 18, 2019 at 8:46 am

      Hi Mark,

      Unfortunately, no. I spent the better part of this morning trying to reset and pair a PS Move controller using a similar method and it doesn’t seem possible. The PS Move controllers [at least the models that I have (CECH-ZCM1U)] refused to go into wireless pairing mode with various button-press methods suggested on Reddit and other sites. It’s possible that some move controller models might pair wirelessly, so check your Move controller models. However, at least some move controller models will not go into wireless pairing mode.

      With that said, the Micro USB cable type needed to pair a move controller via USB aren’t picky. In other words, you shouldn’t need a special cable. If it’s a Micro USB cable, it should not only charge it, but allow it to pair. However if your USB port is broken on your PS4, then you may not be able to pair the move controllers at all.

      If your move controller model isn’t the same as mine, I might suggest trying the following:

      * Press and hold the OPTIONS button slightly before pressing and holding the PS button

      If the red half-moon LED flashes quickly and never changes, it won’t work. This rapid flashing means the controller is trying to connect to the PlayStation. If the light changes to a different slower paced flashing, it might be in pairing mode. If this happens, check the Bluetooth Devices of your PS4 and see if a new device shows up in the list of devices available to pair.

      As I said, I had no luck with using this method of wireless pairing on the model move controllers I own. However, they paired up right away using a Micro USB cable. These are the move controllers that shipped with my PSVR bundle.

      Good Luck.

      Like

  3. David Esau said, on March 30, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    I only wish i had seen this article a few days earlier. my usb ports have not been working for some time now but the devices were paired so i was still able to charge controllers and continue using them. but the to many usb devices connected code kept coming up and my games and apps kept crashing so as a last attempt to fix i tried to re-initialize my ps4 and now i have absolutely no way to pair any devices to my ps4. if i had read this article sooner i would have known to pair my tv remote or controller and at least have some type of control. thanks anyway but i assume i will need to send in to sony in order to get it repaired now.

    Like

    • commorancy said, on March 30, 2019 at 6:36 pm

      Hi David,

      Before sending it off for repair, try using your TV’s remote anyway. Sony may enable CEC by default on the PS4 in the current OS version considering how common CEC is on most TVs today. You’ll just have to enable it on your TV, assuming your TV supports CEC.

      The second option might be to try the Sony entertainment remote for the PS4 as it may use IR. You’ll need to read the package carefully before you buy the remote to make sure of this. Of course, this assumes that your IR is working.

      Like

      • commorancy said, on March 30, 2019 at 6:38 pm

        If these don’t work, then you may need to send it back to Sony to be repaired.

        I should also point out that once hardware begins failing as a result of some internal problem, more error codes are likely. Even if you had managed to get something paired that could control the PS4, that doesn’t mean you still wouldn’t need to get it repaired. Once the USB ports are fried, other components are probably also fried. It’s just a matter of time before the hardware cascades into total failure. It sounds like yours was heading in this direction.

        Like

  4. Max D said, on January 7, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    Very helpful, thanks!

    Like

  5. Joe said, on December 25, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks so much… This new controller was going back to Walmart, it would not show up in the Bluetooth menu at all, read this article, and Bam , I’m in business, opd controller only stays charged for 30 minutes or so…thanks ever so much,

    Liked by 1 person

    • commorancy said, on December 27, 2018 at 2:21 am

      No problem, Joe. I’m glad the article helped get your new controller working quickly!

      Like

  6. Eissa said, on December 20, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    I think it is a good article quite helping

    Like

  7. delsus said, on November 28, 2018 at 5:06 am

    Good article. Helped me pair my controller to my PC with no issues (forgot about Share + PS to pair).

    However, I’ve had some difficulties with connecting my DS4 controller to my android phone. The controller shows up on my phone when I try wireless pairing, but it gets stuck during the process and only displays the message “pairing…” in the Bluetooth menu. Any solution for this? It’s not a console release model either (which I’ve heard may not work), so I’m unsure why it isn’t connecting properly.

    Like

    • commorancy said, on November 28, 2018 at 7:18 am

      Hi Delsus,

      Thanks for your comment and for your entry into the giveaway. I’ll have to check on your Android pairing issue and get back to you with some ideas.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. saltorio said, on October 29, 2018 at 7:48 am

    A great post. I’ve tend to prefer Playstation controllers, but as a mostly PC and Android gamer, wasn’;t sure what the compatibility was like.

    Like

    • commorancy said, on October 29, 2018 at 8:21 am

      Hi Shawn,

      Thanks for your comment. I have another article that discusses the PS4’s DualShock compatibility with Windows here: https://randocity.com/2018/05/30/how-to-use-your-ps4-ds4-controller-on-windows/

      As for compatibility with Android, it is a Bluetooth game controller and should pair just fine. However, I can’t guarantee how many games you’ll be able to control on Android with it. The game will need to support third party controllers. Even then, you might still need a button mapper app to optimally remap the controller buttons for each game.

      Thanks for your entry in the giveaway.

      Like

  9. Calvin said, on October 28, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    Very informative share, I prefer wired controllers when I have a choice, but good to know this too

    Like

    • commorancy said, on October 28, 2018 at 10:56 pm

      Hi Calvin,

      Thanks for your comment. I too prefer wired controllers because you don’t have to worry about batteries running dry or latency and dropouts from wireless protocols. Wired controllers are overall much more stable. Unfortunately, there are not a ton of wired controllers available for the PS4. The Hori controllers are probably some of the best wired controllers available for the PS4.

      As a reminder, to qualify to win the Subscriber 500 million LE DualShock controller, you must complete all 5 actions for the blog itself and show 5 entries on Gleam. Because this is a subscriber giveaway, you must be a follower of the blog to win. Showing 5 entries on Gleam but not completing the actions on the blog disqualifies your entry. These actions include the following:

      1. Visit this article (✓)
      2. Leave a comment (✓)
      3. Follow the Randocity blog (X)
      4. Click the ‘like’ button at the bottom of this blog article (X)
      5. Tweet about it on twitter (X)

      A ✓ mark means you’ve completed that action. An X means you still need to complete this one. Gleam currently shows you have 4 entries completed. I can only see two of the actions completed on the blog itself. Good luck in completing the other three. All 5 actions must be completed on the blog and Gleam must show all 5 entries by December 31st, 2018 per the rules to qualify to win.

      Good Luck.

      Thanks for participating and for your comment.

      Like

  10. Anthony Joseph Ziegler said, on August 11, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    I love you!!!!!!!!

    Like

    • commorancy said, on August 11, 2018 at 11:47 pm

      Hi Anthony,

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I love all my readers!

      Like

  11. winter molina said, on February 10, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    Ah thank you so much, I was using the remote on my pc and the usb ports on the ps4 are busted and I was gonna be in so much trouble if I couldn’t reconnect it to the ps4 again

    Like

  12. Andy said, on November 21, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    A lightning strike went through my ether net wire and disabled my Ethernet port and USB ports. How do I pair a controller if nothing will recognize it

    Like

    • commorancy said, on November 21, 2017 at 9:46 pm

      The answer to your question depends entirely upon whether or not you set up CEC or the Playstation App as a remote control in advance. This all assumes that only the Ethernet and USB ports were fried. If lightning fried any other components … highly probable (i.e., Bluetooth, WiFi or HDMI), then you’ll need to replace your PS4. If both USB and Bluetooth are fried, you can’t control your PS4 and you’ll need to replace it.

      If you have CEC enabled and/or have used the Playstation app to control your PS4, you can use these to navigate the Playstation menu to get to Settings to start the Bluetooth pairing process. You’ll have to let me know what you find.

      Thanks and Good Luck.

      Like

  13. John Morgan said, on September 16, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    My USB port is toast, so this really helped. Thanks!

    Like

  14. chris said, on September 10, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks man i was trying everything and this worked

    Like

  15. Matthew Lint said, on August 21, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Thanks this helped a lot

    Like

  16. Decaf said, on August 12, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    My siblings and I really appreciate this thanks.

    Like

  17. Greg Richards said, on August 12, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Great article, thanks! 👍🏻

    Like


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