How to Connect a Bluetooth Wireless Controller to a Personal Computer


It is possible to play many games using the typical input and output devices on a personal computer (PC) – the keyboard, mouse, and the trackpad (if available). However, with some games a conventional game controller will work better. The controller will provide the more natural feel of a physical joystick for controlling direction, and buttons for rapidly activating game features.  Unlike touch screen inputs, it will also leave the screen fully unobstructed. Where game controllers really shine is when analog inputs are needed, such as with driving games, flight simulators, or basically any situation where it is helpful to be able to vary the degree of deflection from the center point. Four- or eight-way digital control is easily feasible with a controller with a single hand. Finally, the controller will help to reduce wear on the keyboard and mouse.

Game controllers that use Bluetooth wireless technology are a great fit for connection to modern PCs, be it desktop, laptop, or tablet form factor. You may in fact already have Bluetooth compatible wireless controllers such as those that come equipped with the Sony PlayStation 3 (DualShock 3), Sony PlayStation 4 (DualShock 4), Sony PlayStation 5 (DualSense), Microsoft Xbox One and Microsoft Xbox Series X/S (Xbox Wireless Controller), Nintendo Wii Remote, Nintendo Wii U Pro Controller, Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. You can connect most controllers that use the Bluetooth wireless technology to connect to a PC that comes equipped with Bluetooth wireless technology. Once connected, you will be able to enjoy your favorite games with the wireless controllers that you are already familiar and comfortable with.

Connecting a Bluetooth Wireless Controller to a PC Running macOS

Connecting the Bluetooth Wireless Controller to a PC running macOS involves just a few easy steps. The example here focuses on the steps involved in connecting the Sony PlayStation 3’s DualShock 3 controller to a Macintosh computer running macOS Catalina 10.15.7. However, the steps that are required are quite similar for other wireless Bluetooth controller models and other versions of macOS.

Charge Controller

You should first ensure that your wireless controller’s battery is fully charged. Charging of the controller is accomplished by connecting it with its charging cable to a USB port on the computer. The smaller sized plug on the USB cable connects to the controller, and the larger sized one to the USB port.

You should leave the controller plugged into the USB port of the computer for at least one hour. While charging, all four player LED indicators from the controller will blink on and off with a one second period. Once the controller is fully charged, the player LED indicator lights are no longer blinking.

Connect Controller to Bluetooth Wireless on Mac

You need to access the System Preferences menu from the top left of the screen by clicking the apple sign and then selecting “System Preferences…”. Alternatively, you can select the System Preferences by clicking on the gear icon in the Dock. From there, you need to select the Bluetooth icon from the System Preferences window, shown below.

macOS Catalina System Preferences Screen

The Bluetooth screen will appear as follows.

macOS Catalina Bluetooth On Screen

Make sure that Bluetooth is on by clicking the “Turn Bluetooth On” button if it is currently off. When Bluetooth is on, this screen will indicate “Bluetooth: On” under the large blue and white Bluetooth logo. You may initially see a 6 byte hexadecimal MAC address of the controller along with a “Not Connected” message below it under the Devices pane of the Bluetooth screen, as follows:

macOS Catalina Bluetooth Not Connected Screen

Then, press the controller’s “PS Button” for a few seconds. The Sony DualShock 3 controller’s buttons are labeled on its image provided at the end of this article.  You can now remove the USB cable from the controller. Then the controller will soon pair with the Mac, and display “Connected”, as shown below.

macOS Catalina Bluetooth Connected Screen

You should then test the Bluetooth controller using a website designed for this purpose. This process is described in the last section of this article.

Connecting a Bluetooth Wireless Controller to a PC Running Microsoft Windows 10

Preparing the Bluetooth wireless controller to a PC running Microsoft Windows 10 requires connecting the controller to the PC using a USB cable connector, followed by installation of device drivers for the controller. Here the focus is on connecting the Sony DualShock3 controller that comes with the Sony PlayStation 3. The process should be very similar for other Bluetooth controllers, except for the installation of the device drivers which will have manufacturer specific requirements.

From the Start Menu at the bottom left of the screen, select Settings. From the Settings menu, select Devices (Bluetooth, printers, mouse), as shown below.

Microsoft Windows 10 Settings Menu

Next, connect the Bluetooth controller to the Windows PC using USB cable. The smaller connector is attached to Bluetooth controller side, and the larger connector to the Windows PC’s USB port. You should now see something like “PLAYSTATION(R) 3 Controller” under the Other Devices label, as shown below.

Microsoft Windows 10 Bluetooth and Other Devices Settings Menu

Installation of Software Drivers

Windows 10 requires a special driver to be installed for it to be able to communicate with the Sony DualShock 3 Bluetooth controller. A good driver for the Sony DualShock 3 controller is DsHidMini that is available at .

The DsHidMini driver v2.2.282 for the Sony DualShock 3 controller, which is required for both wired USB as well as wireless Bluetooth access, can be downloaded from . You will need to download the file, or whichever is the latest available version, extract the zip file, and then install both the dshidmini.inf and the igfilter.inf files. They can be installed by right clicking the respective filename in the File Explorer and selecting the Install menu option. Once these files are installed, the Sony DualShock 3 controller’s LED lights may individually light up and rotate from LED 1, to LED 2, to LED 3, to LED 4, and back to LED 1.

If you see Playstation(R)3 Controller under the other devices label, then things are working correctly. If you see an error message such as Driver Error in Bluetooth & other device settings, you should click the “Remove device” button, remove the USB cable from the PC side, and then reinsert it.

For a wired USB connection to the controller, a website such as correctly detects the device. Note that you may need to select a different Player than the default Player 1 from the player selection tabs at the top of the page. The subsequent instructions describe how to also activate the wireless Bluetooth connection.

Wireless Bluetooth Connection of the Sony DualShock 3 controller to Windows 10 PC

For a wireless Bluetooth connection to the Sony DualShock 3 controller, you will also need to install the BthPS3 Bluetooth Drivers. They are available at . Be sure to install the correct version of the architecture (64-bit or 32-bit).

Most likely the 64-bit version is required (x64), and not the 32-bit version (x86). However, it is advisable to confirm the correct version using the directions provided at . You can determine whether you are using the 64-bit version or the 32-bit version using the Win + R keys (both the Windows and the R keys pressed simultaneously) to run the msinfo32 command, and subsequently confirm the System Type (x64-based PC for 64 bit, x86-based PC for 32 bit).

You will need to download a file such as (if you are installing the 64-bit version) for Bluetooth wireless support. Install it using the right mouse click and Install menu option from the File Explorer. Windows Defender may show a warning message such as the following when you attempt to install.

Microsoft Windows Defender SmartScreen Warning

In you receive  a warning message you will need to click the underlined More info label and then the ‘Run anyway’ button that is subsequently displayed at the bottom right of the window. You will be prompted to accept the terms in the License Agreement, after which you will need to click Install. You will also likely be prompted to restart the computer for the changes to take effect. If so, you should restart the computer.

Afterwards, you should verify that the PlayStation(R)3 Controller is visible in the “Bluetooth & other devices” setting under the “Other devices” label. If it is not visible, you may need to remove and reinsert the USB cable on the PC side. Following this, you should completely remove the USB cable from both PC side and the controller side and achieve wireless Bluetooth controller connectivity.

Testing Bluetooth Controller Using a Gamepad Tester Web Site

A website such as or  should be used to verify the wireless Bluetooth controller connectivity. A sample image of the PS3 DualShock 3 controller from the  web site with the left stick deflected up and the L1 button held down appears below.

Bluetooth Controller Test From Gamepad Tester Website

At minimum, you will want to test the left stick and the right stick, the four-color coded PlayStation buttons on the right side of the controller, and the four left and right buttons and the front of the controller. The various components of the Sony DualShock 3 controller’s buttons are depicted below.

Sony PlayStation 3 Controller Buttons