Most of the time, your PlayStation 4 controller probably works fine. But when your DualShock 4 stops connecting or disconnects randomly, it's frustrating.
Let's look at fixes for when your PS4 controller is not working, so you can get back to playing.
PS4 Controller Won't Pair or Connect
Normally, when you press the PS Button on your controller, it should turn on and connect to your system. However, when it's not connecting, you'll instead see the light bar on your controller flash for a bit, then turn off.
This usually happens if you've used your DualShock 4 with another device. For instance, if you pair your PS4 controller with your PC or a friend's console, it will remember that device going forward.
You'll need to re-pair your DualShock 4 with your own PS4 in these cases. To do this, connect your controller to your PS4 using a micro-USB cable. Make sure you're using a high-quality cable that you know works properly.
Related: Understand USB Cable Types and Which One to Use
Press the PS Button on your controller for a moment, and the light should flash briefly before turning blue. This signifies that your controller has paired and connected successfully.
If you have your DualShock 4 paired with another nearby device, like your phone or a PlayStation 5, doing this will likely turn on and connect the controller to that device. You should thus turn off and unplug whatever device your DualShock 4 is connected to first.
After you re-pair your controller, you can disconnect the USB cable and use your controller wirelessly as normal. Your PS4 will remember it until you pair the controller with another device in the future.
Keep in mind that the maximum number of DualShock 4 controllers you can have connected to the PS4 at once is four. If you already have four controllers connected, you'll need to disconnect one to make room for more.
PS4 Controller Keeps Disconnecting
If your DualShock 4 disconnects randomly while playing, there are a couple of remedies you can try.
First, make sure your controller battery is charged. It sounds simple, but if the battery in your controller is almost dead, it may disconnect. To check your controller battery life, hold the PS Button to bring up the Quick Menu on the left side of the screen. You'll see a controller icon with battery display at the bottom.
Plug your controller into your PS4 and visit the Quick Menu again to make sure you see the battery charging animation. After your controller charges for some time, try using it as normal.
If the battery wasn't your issue, make sure you aren't trying to use your controller too far away from your system. Typical Bluetooth range is around 30 feet; depending on your setup, you may be able to use your controller further than this, or be restricted to using it closer.
Speaking of this, you should try to minimize interference between your controller and console. Remove any metal objects between the two, like shelving or laptops, that could be inhibiting the signal. You should also take your PS4 out of any enclosed space it's in for better signal transmission and reception.
Finally, remember that the PS4 has a setting that turns off controllers after they're idle for some time. If you don't want your PS4 controller to turn off when you're watching media apps like YouTube, go to Settings > Power Save Settings > Set Time Until Controllers Turn Off and choose Never. Note that this will use up the battery even while you're idle.
General Tips for Fixing a PlayStation 4 Controller
We've looked at specific fixes for a few common DualShock 4 problems above. Next, let's look at more general solutions for problems with PS4 controllers. Walk through these if you need more help.
1. Restart Your Console
While most controller issues stem from the controller itself, there's a chance that your PS4 is what's having the problem. To rule this out, you should restart your console before troubleshooting further.
If your controller is working enough to access menus, hold the PS Button to open the Quick Menu, then go to Power > Restart PS4 to reboot your system.
In case your controller isn't cooperating, press and hold the Power button on your PS4 console until you hear two beeps. This will fully shut it down (no lights on the front)—once it's powered off, press the Power button again to turn it back on.
Try using your controller again after a reboot and see if that helps.
2. Forget and Re-Pair Your PS4 Controller
If you have a second PS4 controller (or a PS Move controller), you can use that to access a menu that lets you remove the controller having an issue. Head to Settings > Devices > Bluetooth Devices and select the DualShock 4 entry—it's the one that does not have a green light next to it.
On the resulting menu, press the Options button on your controller and choose Forget Device. This will cause your PS4 to remove it from memory so you have to re-pair it again.
This is a good time to try a slightly different pairing method: having it re-pair at startup. To do this, turn off your PS4 (as explained earlier). Once it's shut down, connect the problematic controller to your console with a USB cable. Hit the PS Button to hopefully turn on and pair your controller in one process.
If this doesn't work, turn your PS4 back on and try pairing it the normal way, as above.
3. Hard Reset Your Controller
If removing and re-pairing the controller didn't work, you can next try the full reset procedure for the DualShock 4. You'll need a small pointed object, like a bent paper clip or a SIM card ejection tool, to do this.
Turn off your PS4, then flip your controller over. You'll see a small hole next to the screw by the L2 button (on the right side of the controller when flipped over). Use your pointed tool to press and hold the button inside this hole for roughly five seconds.
Once you've done this, connect your controller to your PS4 again via USB cable and see if it pairs successfully.
4. Try the Controller Elsewhere
At this point, if you haven't already, you should try using the controller that's having problems with another device. If you have similar problems on a friend's PS4 or your PC, then your controller is likely faulty.
It's also a good idea to try another PS4 controller with your console, if possible. If you borrow a friend's DualShock 4 that you know works properly and find that it has issues with your system, something is probably wrong with your PS4's wireless connectivity.
5. Use the Controller in Wired Mode
Before you give up on the controller, you should try playing with it permanently connected via a USB cable. However, keep in mind that this only works for the revised model of PS4 controllers. You'll know you have this model if there's a light bar inside the touchpad on the front of your controller. If not, you can't force wired communication.
If you don't already have one, purchase a long cable so you can still enjoy gaming from the couch. The Ailun three-pack of 10-foot micro-USB cables is a good cost-effective option.
To force your PS4 to connect controllers over USB, head to Settings > Devices > Controllers > Communication Method and choose Use USB Cable. This will prevent the DualShock 4 from using Bluetooth, even when connected via USB.
DualShock 4 Hardware Fix Options
Like most hardware, DualShock 4 controllers have a one-year warranty. If you bought your PS4 controller within the last year and can't fix it with all the above tips, you should visit PlayStation's Fix & Replace page to put in a request for repair on your controller.
Otherwise, you can attempt hardware fixes on your own by opening your controller. But depending on the specific issue, this may be difficult or impossible. We recommend speaking to a local repair technician if you don't feel comfortable with doing this yourself.
PS4 Controller Issues, Patched Up
Now you know how to fix the most common PS4 controller issues. More specific problems, such as a button that stops working, unfortunately fall under the hardware fix solutions mentioned above.
Hopefully, your issue was easy to fix. But if not, and you need to pick up a new PS4 controller, you have plenty of great options.
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