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Gaming on a Mac? Here's how to connect a PS4 or Xbox One controller

I walk you through the process of connecting a PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controller to your Mac via Bluetooth. No need to download drivers or use a dongle.

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Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
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  • Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Patrick Holland
2 min read
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You can easily connect PS4 and Xbox One wireless controllers to your Mac to play Fortnite and Apple Arcade games.

Charlie Wagner/CNET

While the Mac has never really been known as a gaming computer, that hasn't stopped people from clicking their arrow keys and spacebar while they played games like Minecraft and Fortnite . But if you're not into the Mac keyboard and mouse controls for your games, you can use an Xbox or PS4 controller instead. It's actually quite simple to connect them to your MacBook ProiMac or MacBook Air via Bluetooth -- no need to download drivers or use a dongle. 

Now that  Apple Arcade  has been available for over a month, there's even more reason to think again about how to make gaming on a Mac a better experience. Launched in October, the $5-a-month gaming subscription service offers unlimited access to a catalog of a 100-plus games that you can play on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or AppleTV. Follow these steps to connect your gaming controller of choice to your Mac. I connected my Mac with the Sony DualShock 4 Wireless Controller and also the Xbox One controller that came with the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Here's how to do it.

Connect a wireless PS4 controller with a Mac

1. Press and hold the PlayStation button and Share button to put the controller into pairing mode.
2. On your Mac, go to Bluetooth settings either from the Bluetooth drop-down in the Menu Bar or from System Preferences.
3. In the device list for Bluetooth settings, look for "wireless controller" to pop up.
4. Click the Connect button.

Pair an Xbox One wireless controller with your Mac

1. Turn the Xbox controller on.
2. Press and hold the Pairing button on the top edge of the controller until the Xbox logo blinks rapidly.
3. Go to Bluetooth settings on your Mac and look for "Xbox wireless controller" to appear in the device list.
4. Click the Connect button.

Troubleshooting when your controller won't connect

If you're having trouble connecting to your computer, make sure that your controller is away from your PlayStation or Xbox One console, respectively. Also make sure the battery is fully charged. Once you're set up, it's time to explore all the game options that are included with Apple Arcade.

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