Syncing Your Nintendo Switch Pro Controller with Your PC: A Step-by-Step Guide

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller makes it simple to play your digital library on Steam. It takes some effort, but you can use it with other PC games as well. Learn the steps here.

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is one of the most expensive “baseline” controllers of the current console generation, but it is well-built, has a pleasant design in the hand, a superb directional pad, and outstanding motion sensors and vibration technology. Moreover, the gamepad connects wirelessly to your PC via Bluetooth, eliminating the need for an additional adaptor.

Unlike the Xbox Series X/S gamepad (or the nicer Xbox Elite Core Controller), the Pro Controller appears to Windows as a DirectInput controller, making it more of a challenge to get it working with PC games. Most of your Steam collection should now be playable with the Switch Pro Controller thanks to Valve’s recent update. We’ll show you the extra measures that must be taken for non-Steam games.

You will need to connect the Switch Pro Controller to the PC before you can use it. Both wired and wireless connections are available to you. The wired option is more user-friendly, but wireless has the obvious advantage of mobility. And there is some effort involved.

Connect Your Switch Pro Controller to PC With a Wired Connection

Syncing Your Nintendo Switch Pro Controller with Your PC: A Step-by-Step Guide
  1. Connect the controller to your computer with a USB-A to USB-C connection (or a USB-C to USB-C cable if your computer has a USB-C port).
  2. To use, simply connect the cable’s opposite end to your computer.

All done! Windows 10 will identify the device as a “Pro Controller.” Here are the Steam installation instructions.

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Connect Your Switch Pro Controller to PC With a Wireless Connection

This is simple to do and requires a Bluetooth adaptor or built-in Bluetooth technology.

  1. Once the Pro Controller is fully charged, you can sync it by pressing and holding the Sync button on the top of the controller for a few seconds.
  2. To access Bluetooth settings, launch the tray menu by right-clicking its icon.
  3. To add a Bluetooth device, select it and then click “Add Bluetooth Device.”
  4. Choose to “Add Bluetooth or other device.”
  5. Select “Bluetooth” (Windows wants confirmation that you wish to use Bluetooth, so do this first).
  6. If the Pro Controller is properly connected and flashing its lights back and forth, it should appear in the list of accessible devices. To connect the controller, simply click it.
  7. Proceed with Steam installation now.

Steam Setup

The Pro Controller’s compatibility with your PC game may be ensured by using Steam’s Big Picture mode, a lean-back menu system that can be navigated with a controller while relaxing on the sofa.

  1. Connecting the Pro Controller should launch Steam into Big Picture, but if it doesn’t, head into Steam’s settings.
  2. When you select General Controller Settings, the Big Picture menu appears.
  3. Follow the link that says “Switch Pro Configuration Support.”

When a Pro Controller is plugged in, the mouse pointer disappears and the controller is used for all Big Picture controls instead. Toggling “Use Nintendo Button Layout” allows you to choose between having the A, B, X, and Y buttons mapped in the same order as the Pro Controller (clockwise X, A, B, Y from the top) or in the opposite order, as seen on an Xbox controller (clockwise Y, B, A, X from the top).

The Pro Controller, after configured through Steam, should function similarly to an Xbox controller when used with a Steam game. To activate or deactivate vibration, simply choose the controller from the list of “Detected Controllers” on the configuration screen. Calibrate the analog sticks by hand if they don’t feel quite right. The time the controller remains connected before disconnecting to enter sleep mode can also be customized.

If you launch a game from your computer’s desktop, rather than Big Picture, Steam’s controller support and the in-game remapping and setup choices may not display properly. We had this issue while playing No Man’s Sky; the controller functioned properly when launched through Big Picture, but the mapping was off when started from the desktop.

Entering the Pro Controller’s controller options when the game is in Big Picture mode will bring up Steam’s Switch Pro Controller overlay. You can use it to verify the controller mappings in various contexts and adjust them as necessary. The Pro Controller’s inputs can be remapped to any keyboard or gamepad button, although the factory settings should be sufficient for the vast majority of games. Running in No Man’s Sky by clicking the right stick was problematic without manual corrections, thus this is beneficial if any controls feel off with the default settings.

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Hardware Alternative: 8BitDo Wireless USB Adapter

Syncing Your Nintendo Switch Pro Controller with Your PC: A Step-by-Step Guide

While it’s great that Steam has added support for the Pro Controller, due to how Windows identifies it, you can’t use it with any titles that aren’t available on Steam. You can either use a software-based XInput wrapper or a hardware Bluetooth adapter made for use with a wide variety of gamepads to get around this problem.

The Switch Pro Controller, Switch Joy-Cons, or Wii U Pro Controller can be simply connected to a PC with the help of the 8BitDo Wireless USB adaptor, a $20 Bluetooth adaptor. Connecting the Switch Pro Controller to the adapter through the sync button instead of the PC’s Bluetooth menu enables it function like an Xbox controller that is compatible with PCs.

Software Alternative: DirectInput-to-XInput Wrapper

This is the strongest and most involved choice available. A software wrapper is used to transform the Pro Controller’s inputs into a format that Windows 10 can better operate with, rather than Steam or a USB adaptor.

The free software X360ce modifies the way Windows recognizes your non-XInput controller. It’s a powerful wrapper that can convert almost any input into an Xbox 360 gamepad’s emulation of those inputs. Since x360ce wasn’t updated since 2020, the project is likely complete and defunct, however the program can still be used without further updates.

Betterjoy is an alternative application for making XInput devices out of the Switch Pro Controller and Joy-Cons. The most up-to-date release date for it is 2021.

If you’re prepared to install and fiddle with software wrappers, you should be able to make the Switch Pro Controller work as desired. Third-party driver wrappers are notoriously picky, so expect it to require more than a little effort.

What About Joy-Cons?

While the Switch’s Joy-Cons are tremendously robust and adaptable, their PC counterparts are less than ideal. The good news is that, just like the Switch Pro Controller, the Joy-Cons can be connected to a PC by pairing them over Bluetooth. A drawback is that each Joy-Con will be recognized as a separate controller, making it tricky to use two as a single gamepad. Betterjoy can facilitate the aforementioned simplification.

How to Connect Other Game Controllers

Check out our guide on how to pick the best PC controller for additional information. We also include PC controller setup guides for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox.

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