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How to connect a PS3 controller to a PC

With the PlayStation 5 poised and ready for the holiday 2020 marathon, the PlayStation 3 is now all but extinct. Players have few reasons to break out their PS3. If you have a game-worthy PC, however, those old DualShock 3 controllers can be put to good use. We show you how to connect a PS3 controller to a PC.

If that interests you, our handy guide allows you to ditch the mouse and keyboard for something a bit more traditional. All you need is a few minutes and a Mini USB cable — which you can get for around six bucks on Amazon. You may need to perform a few Windows-based tweaks, however, so get ready.

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Part 1: Update Windows drivers and .NET Framework

Step 1: First, check your currently installed drivers by launching the Command Prompt. Once it’s open. type driverquery and press the Enter key.

Step 2: Scan the list and make sure you have these components installed:

Windows 10 Install PS3 controller

Step 3: Connect your PlayStation 3 controller to your PC using a Mini USB cable (aka Mini Type-B). Typically they have a USB-A connector on the PC side but you can find cables with USB-C connectors on Amazon. Mini USB is older and larger than the more-common Micro USB connector used on the PS4 controller, mobile devices, and more.

Windows should begin installing the initial drivers when you connect the cable.

Part 2: Download and install ScpToolkit and drivers

Step 1: Head to the official ScpToolkit download thread and click the green link to download the latest stable release. You’ll see the installer — ScpToolkit_Setup.exe — plus the source code packed in archives. If you want to tinker with the code, grab 7-Zip or a similar tool to extract the files.

Step 2: Locate and launch the downloaded installer as an administrator.

Install ScpToolkit

Step 3: Once installed, ScpToolkit prompts you to run a separate driver installer. If you don’t see this prompt, search for “Scp” and select ScpToolkit Driver Installer. On Windows 10, it may reside at the top of the Start Menu under Recently Added.

ScpToolkit Driver Installer

Step 4: With the ScpToolkit Driver Installer running, be sure all the boxes are checked, including Force Driver Installation.

Step 5: Click the boxed arrow next to the Choose DualShock 3 Controllers to Install option. On the resulting drop-down menu, find and select your DualShock 3 controller. If you also plan to use either a DualShock 4 or a Bluetooth dongle to enable wireless play, select those as well.

Step 6: When you’re ready, click Install. All the necessary files install and automatically configure. Don’t panic is you see loads of pop-up windows on your screen — that’s normal. Once you see the Dualshock 3 USB Driver Installed message, you’re good to go.

ScpTools Install PS3 Drivers

Step 7: Click the Exit button when the installation completes.

Your DualShock 3 is now plug-and-play, meaning you can plug it in at any time and it should work automatically!

Something to keep in mind: Since you’re technically using the Xbox 360 drivers to interact with the PS3 controller, games will likely display an Xbox control scheme. When a game wants you to “press X,” you’ll want to hit the Square button instead.

Note: As of January 2018, ScpToolkit is no longer in active development. Future Windows updates could make it an ineffective solution. As of now, though, it’s still a viable option.

Part 3: Create a profile and tweak settings

If you’re so inclined, you can fine-tune your PS3 controller through various applications included with the ScpToolkit.

ScpToolkit Profile Manager

Step 1:  The “unstable” ScpToolkit Profile Manager does not install by default. To get this feature, run the installer again to select this tool and “modify” your current installation. You’ll then see a desktop shortcut and ScpToolkit Profile Manager added to the ScpToolkit folder on the Start Menu.

Once open, you can create custom button mappings that you can swap on the fly. You can also map keyboard and mouse commands as well.

ScpToolkit Global Configuration

Step 2: Double-click the ScpToolkit Settings Manager shortcut on your desktop, or within the ScpToolkit folder on the Start Menu. Here you can fine-tune your thumbstick sensitivity, rumble, controller latency, and LED display, among a lot of other advanced settings.

Troubleshooting for Windows 10

Windows 10 can be picky with controllers. Microsoft’s operating system is, unsurprisingly, designed to work with Xbox accessories and the Xbox Live ecosystem: It isn’t naturally suited for a Sony device, especially an outdated one.

While the ScpToolkit circumvents most of the issues users may face when using the DualShock 3 on their PC, there may be errors during the installation process. Thankfully, there is a workaround to enable driver installation, should the process not go smoothly. It may be wise, however, to back up important files before proceeding, even if the procedure isn’t necessarily dangerous. You will be changing Windows startup settings, after all.

Step 1: Click the Start button or press the Windows key.

Step 2: Click the “gear” icon located on the Start Menu’s left edge. This opens the Settings app.

Step 3: Click Update and Security.

Windows 10 Settings Update and Security

Step 4: Select Recovery from the list on the left.

Step 5: Click the Restart Now button listed under Advanced Startup.

Windows 10 Recovery Advanced Startup

Step 6: Your system restarts and boots in a mode that allows you to alter your firmware and startup settings, thus allowing you to bypass the driver signature enforcement.

Step 7: Select Troubleshoot from the resulting list of options.

Windows 10 Choose an Option

Step 8: Click Advanced Options.

Windows 10 Troubleshoot

Step 9: Click Startup Settings. This initiates another restart.

Windows 10 Advanced Options

Step 10: After your system boots again, you have another set of options. Find Disable Driver Signature Enforcement, then press the F7 key to reboot your PC one last time.

Step 11: When your PC finishes rebooting, follow the procedures outlined above to reinstall and configure ScpToolkit.

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