How to use a PS4 controller on Retropie? (the easy way)

install ps4 controller on retropie

The PS4 controller from Sony (Dualshock 4) is a masterpiece of technology and game comfort
And if you already have one, I understand why you want to use it on Retropie
Today, I’ll show you how to install it and enjoy the pleasure of retro gaming with a high-tech controller

How to use a PlayStation 4 controller on Retropie?
You can use the Sony PS4 controller in three different ways: with an USB cable, wireless with the Sony USB adapter or with regular Bluetooth
While the USB cable usage is straightforward, the Bluetooth part could be tough to understand
There is a specific procedure to follow and I’ll show you how in this post

I’ll browse through the three methods, from the simplest to the more difficult one
But no worry, all the methods work, I have tested all of them during the writing

Install PS4 controller with a USB cable

As I said in the introduction, the installation with an USB cable is the easiest one
You just need to use it like any controller:

  • Start with the Raspberry Pi turned off
  • Plug the PS4 controller to an USB port with the cable
  • Boot the Raspberry Pi and wait for the Retropie configuration menu
  • When the controller configuration wizard appear, hold any key to start the configuration
  • Then hit each key as asked, to create the controller configuration
  • Finally, click “OK”, the PS4 controller is ready to use

You can start to enjoy your PS4 controller easily using the cable
But it’s not the most comfortable, I know you want to use it wirelessly 🙂

Install PS4 controller with the USB adapter

Sony released a USB stick to connect easily your PS4 controller to a PC or a MAC
And it also applies for your Raspberry Pi

As the Bluetooth method we’ll see after is difficult, and will not work in all cases, this may be a good alternative if you have one or can buy one (check the price on Amazon)
With this adapter, you’ll be able to use your controller on any machine: PC, Mac, Raspberry Pi and of course PS4

Once you have it, follow this procedure to make it work in Retropie:

  • Plug the USB adapter on a free Raspberry Pi port
  • As soon as you connect it, it should start to blink
    This means that it’s searching for a device
  • Push the USB adapter a few seconds to put it in pairing mode
    The light should now blink faster
    The USB adapter is ready
  • On the controller, press and hold the “Share” and “PS” key
    The controller also enters pairing mode
  • A few seconds later, both should display a static light, they are now paired

Then follow the configuration wizard to assign each key to a different control

It was rather easy, but you need to have an additional accessory, or even spend some money to invest in the USB adapter
If you prefer, you can try the last association method: regular Bluetooth (check the next paragraph for this)

Install PS4 controller via Bluetooth

The last option is to connect your PS4 controller to your Raspberry Pi using Bluetooth only, without any USB stick
On a Raspberry Pi 3B+ for example, you have a buil-it Bluetooth card, so you don’t need anything else
But you need to know that this will not work with all Playstation 4 controllers

In the Retropie documentation, they are not sure why, but they say that recent controllers seems to not work in Bluetooth whereas the “old” ones works fine
Anyway, if you don’t have a Sony USB stick for the moment, you need to try this procedure and see what happens:

  • Start with the Raspberry Pi turned off (it’s not mandatory, but it’s easier for me to explain)
  • You need to have a keyboard plugged (or a Bluetooth one like mine)
  • Then boot your Raspberry Pi
  • When Retropie asks you for the controller configuration, use the keyboard
    Choose a key for each action, and remember at least what you selected for the navigation arrows, the start button and the A button
  • Go to Retropie configuration
    • Then in Retropie Setup
    • Choose the Configuration / tools menu
    • You should find a Bluetooth section in the next menu, click on it
    • Click on “Register and Connect to Bluetooth Device
    • The wizard turns into “Searching” mode
    • At the same time, turn your PS4 controller into “Pairing” mode
      Press and hold the “Share” and “PS” button
      The PS4 controller light starts to blink fast
    • After a few seconds, the Bluetooth wizard shows you all available devices
      Select the PS4 controller in the list (for me it was “Wireless controller”)
    • Choose the first option for the security mode (“DisplayYesNo” for me)
    • You should get a success message like “Successfully registered and connected to <MACADDRESS>”
    • That’s it. Exit the Retropie Setup menu and go back to the home menu
  • In the home menu, click on your Start button to open the main menu
  • Scroll down to select “Configure Input” and confirm you want to do this
  • Then configure the PS4 controller by holding a button pressed 3 seconds
    Follow the wizard to configure each action and submit with “OK”
    You can now use your PlayStation 4 controller with the wireless mode!

If you have any issue after this procedure, like keys not working correctly, even in the Retropie menu, your controller may not be compatible with the Bluetooth mode
You need to go back to the previous section, and buy an USB adapter (Amazon link here), or you won’t be able to use this controller with your Raspberry Pi

Related Questions

Is it possible to use a PS3 controller instead? Yes, it’s possible to use a PS3 controller. With an USB cable it should work directly. But for wireless mode you may need to install an additional drive (ps3controller in Retropie Setup > Manage drivers). Then follow the same Bluetooth association, but in the Configuration / Tools > ps3controller menu.

Why is my right analog stick not working on N64 games? Like me you don’t remember well the original N64 controller 🙂 The Nintendo controller had only one analog stick doing everything (move and camera), so you don’t need your right stick, even if your are used to play with it for the camera

n64 controler

Conclusion

That’s it, you can now use your PlayStation controller (3 or 4) on your Retropie system
You can then play old games with the comfort and the technology from a high-tech controller

If you want to use other controllers, there is a documentation page on the Retropie GitHub wiki for a lot of them: click here and check the bottom of the right menu
There is a “Controller” submenu with all compatible controllers

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