DS4Windows not detecting controller

Here we will go through and focus on troubleshooting issues that can make DS4Windows not detect your REAL controller. If you are having issues connecting your controller via bluetooth use the DS4 BT troubleshooting guide.

Possible reasons for DS4Windows not detecting my Controller

You are using obsolete "old" versions of DS4Windows

If you just search “DS4Windows” on google, chances are that the first result is the obsolete version from jays2kings, which has not been updated since 2016 and should not be used anymore.

The currently maintained version you should be using is Ryochan7’s DS4Windows. If in trouble, check out the installation guide and the differences between the interfaces below.

DS4Windows is stopped

DS4 needs to actually be running for things to work. If it is stopped then you can press the Start button on the bottom-right to make things roll again.

Controller is not properly connected / does not appear on Windows' Devices and Printers

You have connected your controller to the PC but it does not appear on Windows’ Devices and Printers? No, that should not be possible under normal circumstances. Your controller MUST appear there in some shape or form, even if it does not looks like a controller. See connection types below.

Controller was connected to the PC via Bluetooth: Paired incorrectly or needs to be re-paired

There is a correct and a incorrect method of pairing a controller to the PC via Bluetooth. Both will result in the controller appearing to be connected, but on the incorrect method the controller won’t remain connected for more than a few seconds and Windows will sometimes show a Add a device notification.

Sometimes this happen when a user had previously connected the controller to the PC, removed the device and is trying to simply turn on the controller in the hopes that it will reconnect. If in doubt, fully remove the controller from Windows’ Device list and re-pair it via the proper way.

Controller has been accidentally disabled

There is a chance that DS4W has permanently disabled your controller in a previous attempt of gaining Exclusive Access when using the Hide DS4 controllers option.

Though this can happen via any connection method, on Bluetooth removing and re-pairing the controller will fix the issue.

On USB, the easiest way to verify this is by checking if the controller works properly in other USB ports, though another indication for DS4 or DualSense users is that the lightbar will keep flashing yellow, indicating that the controller is only at a charging state (likewise, it will flash yellow only once then turn off if fully charged).

To check if your controller is disabled:

  • Open Windows’ Devices and Printers by pressing Win+R in your keyboard, typing control printers then selecting Ok
  • Locate your controller on the list
  • Right-click on it, select Properties then select the Hardware tab
  • Select the HID-compliant game controller and check its status at the bottom of the Window
  • If disabled, re-enable it by clicking at Properties then Enable device

If it was disabled then re-enabling should fix the issue.

Controller is enabled but hidden

If you found out that:

  1. Your controller is properly connected
  2. Your controller is NOT disabled in the previous sections
  3. Still does not appear on Windows’ Game Controllers list
  4. And is not detected by DS4Windows

Then it may be hidden. The following tools could be the culprit:

HidGuardian

HidGuardian is a driver that can prevent Windows from recognizing a connected controller as an actual game controller. It was used by DS4Windows to prevent the double-input issue, but support for it was removed in v3.0.8 for 2 reasons:

  • Users didn’t know how to properly configure HidGuardian and ended up having issues that were complicated to troubleshoot and fix
  • The release of HidGuardian’s successor, HidHide, which works the same but is more user-friendly

As such, the latest versions of DS4Windows won’t request HidGuardian for hidden controller’s access and if a controller is hidden by it then it won’t be detected anymore.

Users who still have HidGuardian installed must:

  1. Uninstall it for their controller to be detected again
  2. Install HidHide as a replacement for the “controller hiding” function that is necessary to prevent the double input issue

HidHide

HidHide is an optional (but highly recommended) third-party driver that can hide controllers from the system and only allow chosen processes to detect them. Its use along DS4Windows is recommended in order to prevent the infamous double input issue.

You can check if you have HidHide installed by opening Windows’ Apps and Features and searching for it, though if it do is installed then it’s probably just not properly configured to grant DS4Windows access to hidden controllers. Check HidHide’s guide for more info on that.

  • If you are definitely sure DS4W has been properly whitelisted by HidHide and it still can’t detect the hidden devices try temporarily disabling it by opening the HidHide Configuration Client and unticking the Enable device hiding checkbox in the Devices tab
  • If it still doesn’t work then try uninstalling HidHide via Windows’ Settings -> Apps and Features and rebooting
  • If even with HidHide uninstalled your controller does not appear on Windows’ Game Controllers list then the problem lies elsewhere

Controller is a copy-cat/replica

For these type of controllers to be detected by DS4Windows, they need to:

  • or present themselves as a complete copy of the original in a way that DS4Windows actually thinks they are the original and also behaves exactly like a original one
  • or have specific support for them on DS4Windows’ code
  • or try to force their detection by using the debug version of DS4Windows

You have disabled support for your type of controller in DS4Windows settings

  • On DS4Windows’ Settings tab there is a option called Device options that allows the user to disable controller support per type. Check there if everything is enabled
  • If changes are made then it is necessary to close the Device options Window and Stop -> Start DS4Windows again for them to be effective
ds4windows controller support

Top 5 Ways to Detect a controller on Windows

  • If you want to troubleshoot issues with your real controller then it’s better if DS4Windows is stopped/not running for these checks, otherwise you might mistaken a virtual controller with the real one
  • If the Hide DS4 controllers option is active or if you have controllers hidden with HidHide then they may not appear on the Gamepad Tester website or in Windows’ Game Controllers list
  • Connected DS3 controllers used with DsHidMini in DS4Windows mode won’t appear on the Gamepad Tester website nor in Windows’ Game Controllers list. Confirm if they are detected on DsHidMini Control Utility (DSHMC.exe)

Using a Gamepad Tester

The Gamepad Tester should work in most modern browsers and will show detected controllers along with some additional info such as their vendor and hardware identification (VID/PID).

Windows' Game Controllers List (joy.cpl) Command

Connected controllers should appear on Windows Game controllers list, also called joy.cpl. To open it:

  • Press Win+R in your keyboard, type joy.cpl then select Ok. Alternatively, you can…
  • Use the search function on Windows’ taskbar to find and open Game Controllers

Going to Windows Devices and Printers

Windows’ Devices and Printers should offer a simple view of connected devices. You can use it to confirm a device has been detected by:

  • USB: verifying if there are changes when (dis)connecting a controller
  • Bluetooth: checking if the controller related entry is present and its status

To open the Devices and Printers menu:

  • Press Win+R in your keyboard, type control printers then select Ok. Alternatively, you can…
  • Open it from Windows’ legacy Control Panel
ds4 controller detected

Opening Windows Bluetooth & Other Devices

This menu will show connected/paired Bluetooth controllers and other devicews, though it does not go much beyond that. Paired controllers can be removed here.

To reach it, open Windows’ Settings on the Start Menu and select it there.

controller detected via bluetooth

Navigate Windows Device Manager

The Device Manager is the one source of truth to everything that makes part of your PC. If it has been detected then it will appear there, but because it is very techinical on how it presents devices to the users it may be a little hard for the average user to find their way around it. Regardless, to open it:

  • Press Win+X in your keyboard (or right click the Start Menu) then select Device Managerin the appearing menu

For those experiencing issue trying to connect your controller via Bluetooth, use our BT controller detection troubleshooting guide.

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