How to reconnect your PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 controller

Sony’s PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 both use wireless controllers that rely on a unique method of connecting and resyncing with the consoles: a cable. While Microsoft and Nintendo have used wireless pairing on their respective systems for several generations, Sony is sticking to the old methods it established with the PlayStation 3. However, the PS4 DualShock 4 and PS5 DualSense controllers can wirelessly pair with other devices via Bluetooth. When it comes to your PlayStation, you’ll need to pull out the appropriate Micro-USB and USB-C cables.

Here’s what to do if you’re having connection issues or your controller won’t turn on.

plug it in

Pretty much all of your PlayStation controller connectivity issues can be solved by remembering an annoying air freshener jingle from the ’90s: plug it in! Did you press the PlayStation button in the center of the controller and didn’t see any flashing LED lights or responsiveness? Plug it in to charge. Have you turned it on and seen the LEDs blinking endlessly because it can’t connect? Connect it to your console using the appropriate USB cable and press the PlayStation button again. Did you turn on the controller and notice the LEDs glow solid to indicate a connection? some but your console is not responding? Reconnect it to your console via USB and press the PS button. Maybe you last connected to another device like another PlayStation, PC or phone or tablet – it’s okay, we’d never judge you if you forget – and it’s just about time to try again to sync with your console.

The DualSense uses a USB-C connector to charge and pair with the PS5, just like most new devices these days.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

This clunky dependency on a Cable connect or reconnect a wireless Controller to the console it’s designed for is a little archaic, but at least basic. Just plug it into the PS4 or PS5, press the PS button and it will take care of itself. Keep in mind that if you or someone in your household wirelessly uses this controller on another device, this connection will be overridden has used.

Need a top up?

PlayStation controllers tend to slowly drain over time when not in use. So if you haven’t played for a while and they won’t turn on, it might just need some juice.

Keep in mind that if your controller didn’t turn on to begin with and needs to be charged, there are two ways to do this. You can connect your DualShock 4 or DualSense to your PS4 or PS5 while it’s on or in sleep mode, or you can connect it to the same type of USB wall charger you use for a phone or tablet.

The older DualShock 4 uses Micro-USB for charging and reconnecting, and its rear LED signals connection and charging.
Image: James Bareham / The Verge

When plugged in to charge, the controller LEDs will pulse with an orange light. If this is not the case, it is possible that the cable or USB charger is not reaching the required voltage and current. (Both controllers require five volts, with the DualShock 4 drawing 800mA and the DualSense 1500mA.) When in doubt, use the same USB cable that came with your console, or try another cable you know works it is of high quality.

Maybe one day Sony will join everyone else in the wireless pairing world for its wireless controllers, but until then, keep the old cable handy.

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