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 direction pad, and features impressive motion sensors and vibration systems. On top of all of that, it uses Bluetooth, so you don’t need an adapter to use it with your PC.
The Pro Controller appears to Windows as a DirectInput controller rather than
Connecting the Controller
You can’t use your Pro Controller with your PC until you connect it to your PC first. You have two options: wired and wireless. Wired is simplest, but wireless is, well, wireless.
Plug your Switch 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 and your PC. That’s it. The controller will be detected by Windows 10 as “Pro Controller.” You can move on to Steam setup.
You need a Bluetooth adapter or onboard Bluetooth for this, but it’s also easy. With the
Open up the system tray and right-click the Bluetooth icon. Click “Add Bluetooth Device,” then click “Add Bluetooth or
If Steam doesn’t open automatically into Big Picture mode when you connect the Pro Controller, open up Steam and go into the Settings menu. Click General Controller Settings, which will open a full-screen Big Picture mode 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 to be mapped like it’s an Xbox One controller (clockwise Y, B, A, X from the top).
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 ask you if you want to switch to Big Picture mode when you turn on the controller, you can activate it manually by clicking the rectangle next to your username at the upper right corner of your Steam window.
Using Big Picture mode 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; 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, entering its controller options should bring up Steam’s Switch Pro Controller overlay, letting you check the controller mappings for different situations and fix them when needed. You can map each input on the Pro Controller to any keystroke or gamepad input manually, 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 and should suit most gaming needs, 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 one of two ways: using a hardware Bluetooth adapter specifically designed for multiple gamepad types, or using a software XInput wrapper.
The 8BitDo Wireless USB Adapter 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. It handles all of the XInput details itself, so connecting the Switch Pro Controller to it with the physical sync button instead of through your PC’s Bluetooth menu will make it work like an Xbox 360 gamepad, which most PC games can easily work with.
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 Windows 10 can better work with.
Projects like x360ce and WiinUPro/WiinUSoft are open-source programs that let you control how Windows sees your
These projects are currently defunct; WiinUPro was last updated in June of 2017, and x360ce was last updated in 2015. However, they 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. Possibly more than a bit; third-party driver wrappers are extremely finicky and require a lot of care to get to work with any controller it’s tricking Windows into thinking is an Xbox gamepad.
If you’re a multi-platform gamer, we also have a guide to using your Xbox One controller with a PC. Finally, if you want to play with the Nintendo Switch itself and not your PC, check out our list of the best Switch accessories.
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