How to Connect Your Nintendo Switch Pro Controller to Your PC

How to Connect Your Nintendo Switch Pro Controller to Your PC

It’s easy to play your favorite Steam games with the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. You can play other PC games with it, too, but it requires a bit of work. Here’s how to do it.

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How to Use Your Nintendo Switch Pro Controller on Your PC

(Credit: Nintendo)

The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is one of the priciest "baseline" controllers in the current console generation, but it’s also sturdy, feels good to play with, has an excellent directional pad, and features impressive motion sensors and vibration tech. On top of that, the gamepad uses Bluetooth, so you don’t need an adapter to connect it with your PC.

The Pro Controller (Opens in a new window) appears to Windows as a DirectInput controller rather than an XInput controller like the Xbox Series S/X and Xbox One gamepads, so it can be a bit of a chore to get it working with your PC games. Fortunately, Valve added full Switch Pro Controller support to Steam, so that probably covers a good chunk of your game library. Non-Steam games require additional steps that we’ll walk you through.

Of course, you can’t use your Switch Pro Controller with your PC until you first connect it to your PC. You have two options: wired and wireless. Wired is simplest, but wireless is, well, wireless. And it requires a bit of work.

Connect Your Switch Pro Controller to PC With a Wired Connection

Plug your Pro Controller cable (or any USB-A-to-USB-C data cable, or USB-C-to-USB-C data cable if your PC has a USB-C port) into the controller.

Plug the other end of the cable into your PC.

That’s it! The controller will be detected by Windows 10 as "Pro Controller." You can move on to Steam setup steps below.

Connect Your Switch Pro Controller to PC With a Wireless Connection

You need a Bluetooth adapter or onboard Bluetooth for this, but it’s also easy.

With the Pro Controller charged, press and hold the Sync button on the top of the gamepad for a few seconds until the indicator lights start flashing.

Open the system tray and right-click the Bluetooth icon.

Click "Add Bluetooth Device."

Click "Add Bluetooth or other device."

Click "Bluetooth" (because Windows 10 needs to be reassured that you want to use Bluetooth).

The Pro Controller should show up on the list of available devices (if it doesn’t, make sure the indicator lights are still flashing back and forth). Click it, and pair the controller.

Now you can move on to Steam setup.

Steam Setup

To make sure everything works as it should between the Pro Controller and your PC game, you should use Steam’s Big Picture mode, the couch-friendly lean-back menu system that works well with a gamepad.

If Steam doesn’t open automatically into Big Picture when you connect the Pro Controller, open Steam and enter the Settings menu.

Click General Controller Settings, which opens a full-screen, Big Picture window.

Click "Switch Pro Configuration Support."

If the Pro Controller is connected, the mouse cursor should disappear and you should be able to navigate Big Picture with the gamepad. You can toggle "Use Nintendo Button Layout" depending on whether you prefer the A/B/X/Y buttons to be mapped as they are on the Pro Controller (clockwise X, A, B, Y from the top), or as they’re mapped on an Xbox controller (clockwise Y, B, A, X from the top).

When set up through Steam, the Pro Controller should work like an Xbox gamepad with any Steam game. You can toggle vibration on and off by clicking the controller under "Detected Controllers" in the same setup screen as before. If the analog sticks seem off, you can manually calibrate them by clicking Calibrate. You can also set how long the controller stays connected before disconnecting, so that it goes to sleep.

Using Big Picture ensures that Steam’s controller support and over-the-game remapping and configuration options appear as they should, which won’t likely be the case if you open a game from the desktop. This happened when we played No Man’s Sky (Opens in a new window) ; the controller worked with the game through Big Picture, but the mapping was strange when launched through the desktop.

With the game running through Big Picture mode, you should enter the Pro Controller’s controller options to bring up Steam’s Switch Pro Controller overlay. It lets you check the controller mappings for different situations and fix them when needed. You can manually map each input on the Pro Controller to any keystroke or gamepad input, but the default configuration should work for most games. This is helpful if any controls seem slightly off with the default settings; running in No Man’s Sky by clicking the right stick was finicky without manual corrections.

Hardware Alternative: 8BitDo Wireless USB Adapter

Steam’s Pro Controller support is welcome, but you’re out of luck if you want to play non-Steam games with the controller because of how Windows detects it. You can fix this in one of two ways: using a hardware Bluetooth adapter specifically designed for multiple gamepad types, or using a software-based, XInput wrapper.

The 8BitDo Wireless USB Adapter (Opens in a new window) is a $20 Bluetooth adapter that lets you easily connect the Switch Pro Controller, Switch Joy-Cons, or even the Wii U Pro Controller to your PC. The adapter handles all of the XInput details, so connecting the Switch Pro Controller to it with the physical sync button instead of through your PC’s Bluetooth menu makes it work like a PC-friendly Xbox gamepad.

Software Alternative: DirectInput-to-XInput Wrapper

This is the most powerful and most complicated option. Instead of relying on Steam or a USB adapter to do the job, you use a software wrapper to translate the Pro Controller’s inputs into a format that Windows 10 can better work with.

X360ce (Opens in a new window) is an open-source program that lets you control how Windows sees your non-XInput controller. It’s a robust wrapper that emulates an Xbox 360 gamepad by mapping nearly any other input to the gamepad’s inputs. The project gets updated very rarely; x360ce was last updated in 2020.

Software wrappers should get the job done if you’re willing to install and tinker with them a bit until the Switch Pro Controller works the way you want it to. It may take more than a bit of work; third-party driver wrappers are extremely finicky.

What About Joy-Cons?

Joy-Cons are incredibly powerful and flexible on the Switch, but they’re awkward on the PC. The good news is that you can connect Joy-Cons to your PC just by pairing them over Bluetooth like the Switch Pro Controller. The bad news is that each Joy-Con will register as its own controller, and getting two Joy-Cons to work together as one gamepad is, according to this Reddit post (Opens in a new window) outlining how to do it with Dolphin, arduous at best.

How to Connect Other Controllers

For more, see our guide on how to choose the right controller for your PC. If you have a PS4 or Xbox controller that you want to connect to PC, we have instructions for those gamepads, too.

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The Best Flight Sticks for Microsoft Flight Simulator

When piloting a video game airplane, the right hardware leads to happier landings. Take to the virtual skies just like the pros with these gaming flight sticks.

In 2013, I started my Ziff Davis career as an intern on PCMag’s Software team. Now, I’m an Analyst on the Apps and Gaming team, and I really just want to use my fancy Northwestern University journalism degree to write about video games. I host The Pop-Off, PCMag‘s video game show. I was previously the Senior Editor for I’ve also written for The A.V. Club, Kotaku, and Paste Magazine. I’m currently working on a book about the history of video games, and I’m the reason everything you think you know about Street Sharks is a lie.

Video game flight is having a moment. Maybe being stuck inside due to the COVID-19 pandemic opened everyone’s eyes to the joys of exploring the world from the skies. Microsoft Flight Simulator surprised us all with its blend of depth and accessibility, on PC as well as on the new Xbox Series X and Series S consoles. Whether it’s flying over real-world locations or contending with real-time weather patterns, this love letter to aviation is positively poetic.

Normal video game controls are already tricky enough, whether you’re using a gamepad or a keyboard and mouse. However, flight controls truly challenge you to take your technical skills to the next level. For that extra layer of accuracy when flying video game planes, for yaw control like you’ve never seen, you’ll need a flight stick (not to be confused with a fight stick).

Thanks to the release of the biggest flight sim in years, this niche hardware may tough to find. If you can’t get your mitts on a full hands on throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) setup, you may need to settle for something like a vertical mouse or another joystick alternative (Opens in a new window) . However, if you do spot a gaming flight stick, these are the ones we suggest you snatch up before take off.

These sticks are also good for more than just fun but dry flight sims. If aerial combat is more your thing, Ace Combat 7 resurrected that franchise after a decade-long hiatus. Meanwhile, Star Wars Squadrons delivers a next-gen upgrade to the classic sci-fi fantasy of piloting X-Wings and TIE Fighters. Here are the best flight sticks for Microsoft Flight Simulator and other flight-based video games.

Best for a Realistic Piloting Experience

Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog

Thrustmaster is a name you’re going to see a lot on this list considering just how strong the brand is when it comes to flight sticks. If you’re looking for the best of the best, no matter what it costs, go with the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog. This metal beauty looks like it was lovingly ripped right out of its real namesake airplane, and has the array of throttle and dual-engine inputs to match.

Best for Xbox Series X/S Owners

Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight

One of Microsoft Flight Simulator’s greatest achievements is how it turned the tricky and technical flight sim genre into something accessible and exciting for newcomers. That said, while you can enjoy the game on consoles with a standard Xbox controller, Xbox Series X/S owners who want to up their immersion should consider the Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight. This premium, realistic, modular design gives you all the brake, rudder, and yoke inputs you need to turn your couch into a cockpit.

Best for Make-Believe Boeings

Thrustmaster TCA Yoke Pack Boeing Edition

The whole point of playing a simulation is to approximate the real world as closely as possible. With this Thrustmaster TCA Yoke Pack, you don’t just control a real plane, but you specifically control a Boeing 787. Every bit of this flight stick is designed to resemble what you would find in the cockpit of the real aircraft, from its sturdy metal frame to the “surgically precise” proprietary throttles.

Best for PlayStation 4 Owners

Hori HOTAS Flight Stick

Hardware peripherals for PlayStation consoles tend to be slightly different than their Xbox and PC counterparts. Flight sticks are no different. From Hori, makers of fine fight sticks, this HOTAS Flight Stick lets PS4 owners put their hands on the throttle and joystick. It’s also compatible with PC, so this may be the one flight stick to suit all your needs. Just remember that you can’t play Microsoft Flight Simulator on your Sony PlayStation.

Best for a Midrange Thrustmaster Experience

Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS X

For a slightly more affordable Thrustmaster experience, consider the midrange T.Flight HOTAS X. While it is made of plastic, it’s hard to care since you enjoy Z-axis rotation for rudder controls (something the HOTAS Warthog lacks unless you get external pedals) and a nifty detachable throttle for a more comfortable setup.

Best for Arcade Action

Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

Logitech’s budget flight stick is another accessible option. The streamlined controls and rapid fire button make it perfect for action-packed, arcade experiences rather than elaborate flight sims. Still, you can tweak the Extreme 3D Pro more to your liking with programmable buttons and Z-axis rudder control.

Best for Budget Flying

Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition

This is the budget pick for Thrustmaster flight sticks. However, along with saving you cash, the TCA Sidestick Airbus may prove less intimidating than a full-fledged flight stick that’s covered in scary buttons and knobs. The joystick still offers flight controls more powerful than a regular controller. When you’re ready to go further, this stick also plays nice with other Thrustmaster accessories.

Best for RGB Lighting

Logitech X56 HOTAS RGB Throttle and Stick Controller

Logitech’s premier flight stick is a great, new potential choice. The build quality impresses with its light, but solid, metal body and suction cup stability. You can customize it in a variety of ways, from programming more than 180 controls to flying with unlocked individual engines to adjusting throttle panel knobs to playing around with RGB lighting.

Best for Flight Pedals

Thrustmaster TFRP Pedals

Okay, this isn’t a flight stick, but why should your hands have all the fun? With the Thrustmaster TFRP Pedals, you can expand your existing HOTAS setup with ergonomic foot pedals to give you smoother and even more precise control. Flying a plane should be a full-body experience.

Other Video Game Controller Options

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