Consoles Gaming Hardware

Can I connect Joy-Cons to a PC?

Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons
Double joy: connect Joy-Cons to your PC

The Joy-Con controllers on the Nintendo Switch are nifty little devices packed with gaming technology. A full set features twin-sticks, 20 buttons, accelerometer, rumble feedback, NFC, gyroscope and a motion camera is enough to keep any desktop gamer happy. Fortunately, they’re Microsoft Windows friendly, so we’ll show you how to connect Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons to a PC.

How to use Joy-Cons with a PC

Joy-cons use Bluetooth 3.0 to connect with a Nintendo Switch, so your PC will need to do the same. Most modern laptops have Bluetooth built in, but it can be a rarity with desktops. A simple USB Bluetooth controller will resolve this. For the next stage, we have step-by-step guides for Windows 10 and Windows 11.

Connecting Joy-Cons to Windows 10

Windows 10 Settings Screen

On your keyboard, press and hold the Windows key and I to pop open the Windows 10 Settings menu and select Devices.

Add Bluetooth device on Windows 10

Click the + icon next to ‘Add Bluetooth or other device’ and then from the ‘Add a device pop-up’, select Bluetooth.

Pairing Button on Nintendo Switch Joy-Con

To make the Joy-Cons discoverable, press and hold the recessed black button until the strip of four LEDs begin to strobe. We’ve highlighted the button in blue.

On the PC, select Joy-Con (L) or Joy-Con (R) and, after a few moments, Windows will display ‘Your device is ready to go!’

Connecting Joy-Cons to Windows 11

Windows 11 Setting Screen

On your keyboard, press and hold the Windows key and I to pop open the Windows 11 Settings menu. From the left hand menu, select Bluetooth & devices.

Add Bluetooth device on Windows 11

Click the + Add device icon and then from the ‘Add a device’ pop-up, select Bluetooth.

Pairing Button on Nintendo Switch Joy-Con

Press and hold the recessed black button until the strip of four LEDs start to strobe. This puts the Joy-Cons into discovery mode. We’ve highlighted the button in blue.

On the PC, select Joy-Con (L) or Joy-Con (R). Windows will display ‘Your device is ready to go!’

Windows 11 Bluetooth screen showing two Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons connected

 Repeat this with the other Joy-Con so they’re both paired to the PC.

Why do I have to connect both Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons to my PC?

Combining the (L) and (R ) Joy-Cons and using them as a single controller gives the best gaming experience as there are more buttons available alongside dual analogue sticks. Use a Joy-Con grip to maximise this setup and give Nintendo’s Joy-Cons the feel of something like an Xbox controller.

There is nothing to prevent you from using a single Joy-Con as a controller or giving one to a friend. Pairing both Joy-Cons allows for multiplayer gaming with certain titles. To manage this, you’ll need some free software.

Installing BetterJoy

BetterJoy on GitHub

BetterJoy, written by Davidobot, is a free utility which allows a vast array of console controllers to work with PCs. Download the Zip file (highlighted in blue) and unpack it.

Run ViGEmBusSetup to install BetterJoy

Dive into the Drivers folder and run ViGEmBusSetup_x64 (or ViGEmBusSetup_x86 if your machine is 32-bit).

BetterJoy show Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons connected as a pair

Once the installation is complete, run BetterJoyForCemu.exe and your PC will detect the Joy-Cons as an Xbox Controller and/or a HID-Controller.

Joy-Con button mapping within game

Betterjoy allows for some button remapping, though many more options will be available within your game.

BetterJoy show Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons connected as single controllers

BetterJoy will automatically use two Joy-Cons as one controller, but if you click the icons of the Joy-Cons, they’ll rotate into a horizontal orientation denoting that the machine will treat them as single units. You’ll need to do this for multiplayer.

Can I use Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons with every game?

I can’t promise that, but I’ve tested these with a few Steam titles and they’ve worked really well. Many of the games also allowed me to remap the control buttons to improve my gameplay.

If you already own a Nintendo Switch and if you and some friends fancy some multiplayer PC gaming, using Joy-Cons on a PC is a great option.

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About the author

Lee Grant

I can normally be found attacking things with screwdrivers in my small computer repair business or writing a column for PC Pro magazine.

I am also trying to solve a mystery involving David Bowie.

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