Even the most passionate PC gamers are keen to play a game with a controller every once in a while. Some games are designed to be more enjoyable if you don’t use a mouse and keyboard while playing, which is why we recommend keeping a controller on your desk in case you need it when trying a new game.
One of the most popular ways to get a DualShock controller to work on Windows is by using a piece of software called DS4Windows.
Unfortunately, this software sometimes acts unexpectedly and fails to detect your controller, in which case you will need to apply one of the fixes listed in this helpful guide.
Without further ado, here’s what you need to know.
Note: For this guide, we will be using Ryochan7’s fork of the DS4Windows software. That is because this version is regularly updated and recommended by the community as the safer, more stable option compared to the original, which seems to have been neglected by its developer.
It is essentially the same tool, just refined. This is the new GitHub repository for the tool if you are a developer, contributor, or simply want to see what’s going on with the code behind the scenes.
Table of ContentsShow
The Problem Explained
As mentioned previously, DS4Windows is an open-source tool for Windows that allows you to use a DualShock controller on your PC, which is otherwise impossible.
Without the help of DS4Windows, console owners will only be able to use an Xbox controller on their Windows PC.
This makes sense as Xbox and Windows are both owned and developed by Microsoft, whereas Sony is a rival company and their PlayStation console, which the DualShock controller was designed for, is a direct competitor.
Thankfully, DS4Windows can “trick” your computer into thinking that you’re plugging in an Xbox controller, rather than a DualShock.
This can have a few downsides, such as viewing the in-game user overlay as though playing on an Xbox controller, but it’s still far better than not being able to play with a DualShock controller at all.
The software is relatively easy to use and has all the helpful features a user needs to achieve smooth gameplay. However, it sometimes fails to detect the controller, which can be frustrating.
The fixes and workarounds listed in this guide will help you solve the problem quickly and easily.
Let’s take a look.
Note: Before reading further, download the DS4Windows tool from the official website. As mentioned above, we will be using the ryochan7 fork, which can be found here.
Fix 1: Update The DS4Windows Tool
One of the most common reasons why your DS4Windows Tool fails to detect your DualShock controller is because it is outdated.
The easiest solution to this problem is usually simply updating the software to the latest version, and we will show you how.
Numerous users confirmed this solution as working, which is why we recommend trying it first. It doesn’t take much time and the process itself is fully automated.
Here’s how to do it:
- Open the directory where you have all DS4Windows files downloaded.
- Double-click the DS4Updater, which is an executable file that will automatically begin the updating process when executed.
- The app will scan its repository and replace any older files with their newer, updated versions. Note that the app might not find any updates if you recently downloaded the latest version of DS4Windows.
- When the process is complete, a message will appear saying “DS4Windows is up to date”.
- Close the updater window and restart the tool.
DS4Windows should now detect your controller. This should fix the problem but, if it doesn’t, there are other methods to try.
Fix 2: Confirm Your Controller Is Enabled In Windows Device Manager Panel
This scenario could be more common than you think, and many users spent dozens of hours searching for the cause of the problem only to discover that their device was disabled in the Windows Device Manager panel.
Here’s how to ensure that doesn’t happen to you:
- Start the DS4Windows software and plug the controller into your PC.
- Right-click the Windows icon in the bottom-left corner of your taskbar and choose Device Manager from the list of options.
- Click the arrow icon to expand the Human Interface Devices section, then search for “HID-compliant game controller” in the list of devices.
- Once you find it, right-click and choose Enable Device.
- Close the Device Manager panel and open the DS4Windows app. The DualShock 4 controller should now appear under the “Controllers” tab.
If your device was previously disabled, this should permanently fix the problem with it not being detected by the DS4Windows software.
Windows 10 updates are notorious for disabling devices in the Device Manager panel, so if you recently downloaded one, it’s very possible that you’re a victim of this bug.
Fix 3: Scan For Hardware Changes In The Device Manager Panel
Another easy fix for DS4Windows not detecting your controller is scanning for hardware changes in your Device Manager panel.
This only takes a few seconds to do and has helped many users regain access to their controller, which is why we recommend trying it.
Here’s what you need to do:
- As in the previous section, open Device Manager on your PC by right-clicking the Windows logo located in the bottom-left corner of your taskbar, then choose Device Manager from the list of options.
- Right-click the main, parent object, which should have the same name as your PC. In our case, it is “Desktop-85HDL35,” but it may be different for you. Choose Scan for hardware changes, which was the only option on the menu for us.
The process usually only takes a few seconds, but this can vary depending on your PC’s performance. It shouldn’t take longer than half a minute.
Once your system finishes scanning for hardware changes, the controller should appear in the list of devices connected to your PC.
Fix 4: Uninstall The Controller And Reconnect It
Uninstalling the controller and reconnecting it to your PC is known to fix the problem, so here’s how to do it and what you need to know when doing so:
- Make sure your DS4Windows tool is closed and your controller is unplugged.
- Right-click the Windows icon located in the bottom-left corner of your taskbar and choose Search.
- Type “Control Panel” into the search box and choose the first result. This will open the Control Panel you need for this method.
- In the top-right corner where it says “View by:” choose Category. Then, click on Hardware and Sound, and then Devices and Printers.
- In the Devices and Printers panel, find the controller and right-click on it. Choose Properties from the dropdown menu.
- Click Hardware to open the tab you need, then click on the Properties button located at the bottom, below the list.
- In the HID-compliant game controller properties window, click Change Settings at the bottom.
- Open the “Driver” tab and then click on Uninstall Device. Confirm the action.
- Click OK in the controller properties window to close it.
- Load up DS4Windows and plug your DualShock 4 controller back into your PC.
Wait a few moments until the hardware change initializes and is confirmed, then your controller should appear in the tool.
This was a permanent fix for the problem for many users, and it should also work for you.
Fix 5: Reboot Your PC
After attempting any of the changes listed in this guide, we recommend rebooting your PC. Even without performing any of the fixes listed above, rebooting your PC can sometimes mysteriously cause your controller to appear in both the Device Manager panel and your DS4Windows tool.
It’s an evergreen solution for many problems, so why not give it a try?
You now know how to fix the “DS4Windows not detecting controller” issue on your PC. If you are still having trouble even after trying all these methods, the issue might be hardware-related.
Try replacing the controller or the cable connecting it to your computer and see if the issue persists. This can often be the cause when you’re using an older controller or a potentially damaged cable. Also, ensure it’s the right type of cable.
Some users also recommend reverting to an older Windows version to fix this issue, as they believe Windows updates can be the root of this problem.