Random Thoughts – Randosity!

How to pair your PS4 controller wirelessly

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

DUALSHOCK 4[Updated: 4/15/2017] We all know the drill. You’ve just run out and spent $65 for that new and oh-so-cool camo 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.

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

34 Responses

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  1. darkhorse5blog said, on June 2, 2017 at 4:52 am

    I just wanted to let you know that this momma who barely knows how to turn on the PS4, synced the newest controller all by herself as a surprise for the boys when they get home from work and school 🙂 Thanks! You made me look like the coolest momma yet 😉

  2. saqib said, on May 22, 2017 at 4:36 am

    Great post, and great website. Thanks for the information! PS4 External Hard Drive

  3. Charlie b said, on April 9, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Thankyou so much. Worked straight away

  4. Dan evans said, on March 15, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Thank you so much I couldn’t reconnect my scuff because the charging port broke and this helped me pair it wirelessly. This definitely helped.

  5. Happy Gamer said, on February 18, 2017 at 7:25 am

    Thank you very much, works.

  6. Calvin Ajizian said, on December 29, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Hey man, thanks for the info but I just got a new ps4 controller and I have tried all of these methods and nothing works. I made sure that it was fully charged and never got any responses at all. The lights never flashed and it never did anything. I tried both methods and more and none worked.

    • commorancy said, on January 2, 2017 at 6:36 pm

      Hi Calvin,

      I’ll need a little more detail. Does the controller light up at all, like when you press the PS button? If you’re getting no lights after charging it, the controller may hae a defective battery. If the PS button does light the bar, then it sounds like you haven’t yet gotten the trick of getting it into pairing mode.

      Let me know.

      Thanks.

  7. Michael said, on November 5, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    Thanks so much for your instructions for wireless pairing, really helped me out!

  8. Ian Grant said, on October 29, 2016 at 11:23 am

    Thanks for the article, saved my life!

  9. Doz said, on June 10, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    I’m stuck because I upgraded my HDD to 2tb but now when I try to load safe mode to update software I don’t have the official USB cable so it won’t work! Is there any way to pair DS4 which worked perfectly before without the official cable? They seem to be like goldust to buy anyway so hugely frustrating.

    • commorancy said, on June 12, 2016 at 1:15 am

      Hi Doz,

      Depending on whether your flat screen TV has CEC capabilities, you may be able to use your HDMI connection and your TV’s remote to control your PS4’s menus. You’ll need to ensure HDMI Link is enabled in PS4’s system settings (it may be enabled by default) and you’ll need to enable CEC on your TV. Once you set CEC up, you may be able to control your PS4 into system settings using your TV’s remote and then pair your controller without using a cable. I’ve tried using CEC to control my PS4 without success, but this could simply be an issue with my TV brand. This is the only way other than using a USB cable that I know of to gain control over the PS4’s menus and let you pair a controller without having one already paired.

      Note, some TV brands don’t call it CEC. They might call it ‘Link’ or it might under the TV’s ‘Link’ menu.

      Oh, and you can buy a Sony USB cable from Amazon for $9.99 (only slightly pricey for a USB cable considering Sony) => http://amzn.com/B00HUXPZPK.

      Note this cable will be back in stock at Amazon in 3 days from this comment. If you can’t wait that long, I’d suggest calling a local Gamestop and ask them if they have any used cables in stock. Since Gamestop continually takes in used PS4s, they likely have some for sale at a reasonable price. If your local store doesn’t have one, ask if any stores close to them have any in stock. Or, you can order this cable from the Gamestop.com web site. Even though, it’s 3 days until Amazon has the cable back in stock, it will likely still arrive faster than ordering it from Gamestop.com. Picking it up from a store is fastest.

      Best Buy also carries these same cables for $9.99.

      Hope this helps.

      • Doz said, on June 12, 2016 at 2:31 am

        Thanks for the tip but although I’ve enabled CEC on my tv I have no way to get into my ps4 to do the same on its settings. Without both being enabled it won’t work and even then chances are slim. Looks like I will need to find someone with the original USB cable or order myself. Went into 4 game shops yesterday and none of them were selling it! Crazy

        • commorancy said, on June 12, 2016 at 6:05 am

          There may be one other way to handle this. Purchase a PS4 wired controller and control the PS4’s menu using a wired USB controller. It’s always a good idea to have something like this around the house just-in-case. But, that’s kind of up to you. In addition, this is a great controller to use if you want zero latency gameplay. Wired controllers handle inputs far faster than wireless and they can be used as backup controllers in case of issues like this. This makes wired controllers excellent for fighting games where every combo second counts.

          • Doron Abrahami said, on June 12, 2016 at 6:58 am

            Thanks again for suggestion that is interesting. My only concern would be again all wired controllers I’ve seen for ps4 are third party and most not got good reviews so again no guarantee it will work for my purposes. If I can’t get official cable will have to try this instead. Shame I can’t just load the update software onto new HD from PC instead.

            • commorancy said, on June 12, 2016 at 9:52 pm

              Hi Doz,

              While the Hori controllers are not perfect, they do have some advantages over using Sony’s DS4 controller. First, no battery and no charging. So, you can play as long as you like without having to stop and recharge. Second, the latency is zero. This means that button presses are immediate, unlike wireless controllers that have a certain amount of latency from the button press to the time the PS4 registers it. This makes wired controllers ideal for games that require immediate button control. While the wired controllers do not offer a speaker, rumble and the light bar, these are more gimmicks than anything else. So, even though they are missing, I wouldn’t exactly miss them if they weren’t there. The Hori Pro FPS pad appears to have a touch pad, so you can at least use that part of the controller. Additionally, if you’re rough on controllers, the Hori’s shoulder buttons are much more robust and would be hard to break, unlike the DS4 controller’s trigger buttons that break easily. In addition to these benefits, you also have a controller that will always work under all circumstances, even if you need to rebuild your PS4 after replacing a hard drive. They are a little pricy, but not more than a DS4 controller.

  10. Jalin said, on May 18, 2016 at 10:25 am

    My PS4 controller won’t connect too my PS4. the PS4 was not turned off properly screen. And I can’t access the screen because all three of my controllers won’t pair with my PS4.

    • commorancy said, on May 27, 2016 at 5:22 pm

      Hi Jalin,

      Assuming your PS4 is not corrupted beyond being normally functional using the XMB, hopefully this will help. If none of your controllers are paired, you will need to locate and use a PS4 microUSB cable to pair at least one of the controllers. You can buy one of these microUSB cables from Amazon, Gamestop or possibly at Target or Walmart. With cable in hand, turn the PS4 on. Once the PS4 is booted up, connect your PS4 controller to the PS4 with the USB cable. Note that the USB cable is a special Sony cable specifically meant for use with the PS4. Making this connection should pair that controller. Once paired with the cable, you should be able to press the PS button to move into the XMB menu. Once you have one of your PS4 controller’s paired, you should be able to pair the rest wirelessly using this article.

      Because you said the system was hard powered off and no longer recognizes your controllers, the PS4’s operating system may be damaged or corrupted. If this is the case, you may need to factory reset your PS4. Note that factory resetting your PS4 is beyond the scope of this article, but I did find an article that may help you: How to put your PS4 into Safe Mode

      Once you put your PS4 into safe mode, you can use various reset functions to try to recover your PS4. You should start with the least strong factory reset function and work towards the strongest (wiping all of your data). Though, before trying Safe Mode to reset your PS4, I’d suggest attempting to pair your controllers with a USB cable first.

      Good luck.

  11. Ed said, on April 14, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks for the useful article.

  12. Haden said, on March 16, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    You are a genious, every post I’ve seen about pairing says u have to have the USB cord which I am without at the moment. Your instructions worked perfectly thanks!!!!

  13. Travis said, on March 8, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    This worked perfectly. Thanks. I was getting quite frustrated as my ‘Sony’ cable is MIA and I use another for charging. Would not sync via USB and the wireless is obviously superior.

  14. Serina Schlicker said, on March 4, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Hello! That works like a charm! Does it work with MBN too?

    • commorancy said, on March 4, 2016 at 7:37 pm

      What is an MBN? If you mean Xbox One? No, it won’t work there. The wireless protocol used on the Xbox One controllers is not Bluetooth. Pairing must be performed with the small buttons on the back of the controller and on the front of the console for Xbox One and 360 controllers.

  15. withitall1 said, on March 4, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    This worked! Thank you!

  16. Unwanted said, on February 26, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    Your instructions worked for me. Thank you.

  17. MonsieurMelange said, on January 30, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Took a few tries but the wireless pairing worked! Glad I found this article. I was a little peeved when my controller didn’t come with a new cable and then finding out you need the proper cable to pair it is even more annoying. Thanks for the info. Happy gaming!

  18. Hamza said, on January 15, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    I have tried everything , it wont go to pairing mode , I have tried both buttons simultaneously , Share before PS button , literally everything !
    Can you please help me out ?
    It just start slow flashing no matter what I do

    • commorancy said, on January 15, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      Hi Hamza,

      I’ll see what I can do to help you. Have you reviewed the video I posted in one of the comments below? If you try it one-handed like in the video, it might help you get it into pairing mode easier. Also, be sure you are firmly pressing both buttons. If you aren’t pressing the SHARE button firmly enough or if you release it while still holding the PS button, it will go into slow flashing mode. Both buttons must be pressed and held together until the fast pairing flash begins. You can’t release any buttons until it’s in pairing mode. Which controller do you have? Is it a standard black, red, camo or blue controller or is it a special edition controller?

  19. Immanuel Ucheya said, on September 4, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    i just got a ds4 controller but i dont have a ps4 i just would love to use it with my pc games but it refuses to enter pairing mode, when i press both share and ps buttons it just flashes slowly no rapid blinking indicating pairing mode and my pc doesnt see it either, also the flashing ends after about 7-10 seconds, please help i really need to pair it wirelessly, thanks

    • commorancy said, on September 5, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      Hi Immanuel,

      I have updated the article to be more precise about how to get into pairing mode. You’ll need to press and hold the share button slightly before pressing and holding the PS button. You’ll want to hold down these buttons until the two quick pulse flashes begin. Once you get pulse flashes, then it’s pairing. If you’re getting slow strobing, the controller is trying to connect to the PS4 or your PC. Slow strobe is not pairing mode. Slow strobing could indicate that you have pressed the PS button too early or the controller is not reading your press of the share button. Make sure to firmly press both down.

      Note that you can exit out of the pairing mode by pressing the PS button again.

      Hope this helps.

      • Immanuel Ucheya said, on September 6, 2015 at 2:38 am

        hey, so i tried what u said incase i wasn’t doing it ight but unfortunately i get the same strobing light and no rapid flashes, note that i have never connected the ds4 controller to a ps4 console, i bought it separately for pc usage which is why i asked if it needs to be connected to a ps4 for any initial config or activation for the bluetooth pairing but it works fine with the usb cable tho

        • commorancy said, on September 6, 2015 at 4:10 am

          I’m not sure what is going on with your controller, but I know that it doesn’t require having been hooked up to a console first. I bought a brand new camo controller (like the one pictured in the article). In fact, the whole genesis of this article spawned from the need to get my controller paired without a cable. I used this pairing technique to hook it up to my PS4. So, I’m certain that it doesn’t require having been connected to a PS4 prior to pairing it. I’m not certain why yours won’t go into pairing mode. Though, you should make sure it’s fully charged before trying to pair it. If there isn’t enough charge, the controller may not go into pairing mode. If the controller is brand new, they don’t come with much charge.

          DS4PairingGuideBe sure you are pressing the PS button and the SHARE button (upper left next to touch pad). Make sure you’re not pressing and holding the right OPTIONS button by mistake as this will go into slow strobe. In fact, any button other than the SHARE button will put the controller in slow strobe mode when combined with the PS button.

          If you still can’t get it to work, it’s possible that the SHARE button on that controller is not working properly or at all. You may want to replace that controller.

          Thanks.

          • Red-Mage said, on October 19, 2015 at 6:12 pm

            Hey, I’m having the same problem as Immanuel Ucheya, I can’t get the PS4 controller to enter Pairing Mode. I know it’s charged, and that the SHARE button is working. The controller works perfectly while connected via USB.

            I’ve 3 PS4 controllers and none of them will enter Pairing Mode. Did they remove Pairing Mode from the new controllers?

            • commorancy said, on October 20, 2015 at 4:20 am

              Hi Red-Mage,

              I don’t know of any reason why your controller won’t go into pairing mode. I’ve bought both older and newer controllers and have had no trouble getting any of them to go into pairing mode. You do have to press and hold for at least 5 seconds (both buttons) or possibly longer. If you’re accidentally pressing any other buttons (triggers, joystick or touch pad), this may abort putting the controller into pairing mode.

              Can you tell me exactly how you are pressing the buttons and for how long? Here’s a short video showing my 3 different controllers each going into pairing mode. You have to press and hold for about 5 seconds at least.

              Thanks.

              • Red-Mage said, on October 20, 2015 at 9:07 am

                Thank You so much for the video! I found my problem was I was pressing the Share and PS buttons each with a different hand. Tried pressing it with just one hand and it worked. I believed my problem was I was pressing the Share button too hard, because if I just lightly tap and hold it worked. If I pressed it too hard, to the point it clicked, it didn’t work.


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