Connecting a PS3 controller to a PC is not as difficult as one might expect, and typically requires PC users to do little more than plug their controller in the their PC’s USB input. All you really need is a USB cable. Although most stock wireless PS3 controllers come packaged with a USB charge cable, players can purchase a third-party charge cable ($1.50) if missing the component. Since you need those to charge the controller, you’ll need one regardless.
Here’s our quick-hit guide to connecting a PS3 controller to a PC, so you can ditch the mouse and keyboard if you so desire. The exact process for doing so depends on whether you’re utilizing a wireless or wired device, but it’s essentially the same regardless of the controller.
Step 1: Downloading and configuring the MotioninJoy Drivers
First, connect your PS3 controller to your PC via a USB cable and Windows should begin installing an initial set of drivers. Once finished, visit the MotioninJoy download site and scroll down to download the latest version of MotioninJoy driver, which at the time of this writing is version 0.7.1000. The MotioninJoy download contains a configuration tool necessary for using a PS3 controller with a PC, though once you run the initial setup, you won’t need to use it again,
Once the MotioninJoy driver downloads to your computer, locate the downloaded file and extract the contents to a location of your choosing. After the files extract, open the new program titled “MotioninJoy_071001_signed.” When the program boots, click on the Driver Manager tab and locate your controller in the subsequent Hardware Location area. Next, select Load driver and continue with the installation even though Windows prompts you about unsigned drivers. Once the installation completes, close the MotioninJoy program.
Note: Because you won’t need to use MotioninJoy again, you have the ability to uninstall the entire program from your computer if you desire. The following program — Better DS3 — requires the drivers installed, not the entire program.
Step 2: Downloading the Better DS3 Program
With the MotioninJoy drivers installed, navigate to the Better DS3 website and download the driver configuration tool. Once the download finishes, open the resulting ZIP folder — titled “BetterDS3_1.5.3,” — from the previously-designated save location using 7-Zip or a similar archive utility. Afterward, double-click the Better DS3 application to launch the software.
Step 3: Running the Program and Creating a Profile
Once the application opens, plug your wired PS3 controller into a USB slot on your PC. If using a wireless PS3 controller, connect the cable to the controller before you plug the other end of the cable into the PC. Give the machine a moment to recognize the controller, and if successful, the device appears in the box beneath the Connected DS3 Controllers section of the application window.
Next, you’ll need to create a profile which tells your computer what kind of PC controller you want to emulate, as you’re essentially mirroring the functionality of other PC-compatible controllers. For instance, if you select XInput — the Xbox 360 controller emulator — your PS3 controller acts as an Xbox 360 controller on your PC. We’d recommend using this configuration and creating a profile using XInput; it’s easily the most universal configuration when playing PC games.
To do this, click the drop-down menu which says New and select the XInput option. Once done, a new window appears with various options for customizing your controller’s respective button mapping. Afterward, click the gray Xbox 360 button in the top-right corner of the window and allow the application to automatically map the controls based on the basic Xbox 360 controller layout. Keep in mind, you’ll still have the ability to modify the button layouts as you see fit after it configures, and you even have the option to adjust the vibration strength and set your chosen profile for automatically connecting your controller upon login. Once complete, you now have the ability to use your controller with any PC game.
Step 4: Syncing your Bluetooth capable wireless PS3 controller (Optional)
Syncing your PS3 controller to your PC via Bluetooth isn’t as tough as you might think. First, ensure both your controller and PC are Bluetooth capable. Although Sony’s DualShock 3 controllers all feature Bluetooth compatibility, not all third-party manufacturers offer the functionality. You can always purchase and equip your PC with a wireless dongle adapter ($7) if you’re determined to wirelessly use your PS3 controller with your PC.
Once equipped with a Bluetooth-capable controller, bring up the Better DS3 application window and click the Bluetooth Pairing button. Once clicked, simply unplug the charge cable connecting your controller to your PC. If done correctly, your wireless PS3 controller will then be synced with your PC. Additionally, the Better DS3 program touts a host of other notable features that go beyond gaming functionality. Once set up, your control can mirror several other input options, including your keyboard and mouse, simultaneously allowing button mapping for any situation.
This article has been updated since it was originally published to include improved options for pairing PS3 controllers with a PC.