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
On your keyboard, press and hold the Windows key and I to pop open the Windows 10 Settings menu and select Devices.
Click the + icon next to ‘Add Bluetooth or other device’ and then from the ‘Add a device pop-up’, select Bluetooth.
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
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.
Click the + Add device icon and then from the ‘Add a device’ pop-up, select Bluetooth.
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!’
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.
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.
Dive into the Drivers folder and run ViGEmBusSetup_x64 (or ViGEmBusSetup_x86 if your machine is 32-bit).
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.
Betterjoy allows for some button remapping, though many more options will be available within your game.
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.