The best gaming controller is often the one you have with you. Millions of Nintendo Switch owners experience this. The case is not so cut and dry for Mac owners. Using a keyboard and mouse is hardly ideal, and, for the majority of games, it’s a terrible solution. What if you could connect your Switch Joy-Cons or Pro controller to your Mac? Good news, you can! Adding a controller to the Mac is really easy, and if a game allows Bluetooth controllers, it will elevate the Mac gaming experience to entirely new levels. Learn how to do it here.
Pairing a Joy-Con
A word of warning before getting started, as you cannot use Joy-Cons in the same manner as you would on a Switch. In other words, both Joy-Cons can be paired to the Mac at the same time, but they would serve as two individual controllers for two players.
1. Start by turning off the Nintendo Switch. You can be certain that the Joy-Con connection to the Switch is not enabled by doing this first.
2. Remove one or both Joy-Cons from the Switch, and hold the “Sync” button until you see a green flashing light. The “Sync” button is found on the flat side of the Joy-Con, and it is a small black button.
3. Click the Bluetooth button in the Menu bar on your Mac and
select “Open Bluetooth Preferences.”
4. One or both Joy-Cons will appear on the right side of the Bluetooth menu with the word “Pair” next to them.
5. Click on “Connect” and wait for the Joy-Con(s) to say “Connected” underneath so that you are certain they are properly synced.
Pairing the Pro Controller
Popular with Nintendo’s more dedicated gaming crowd, the Switch Pro Controller (or the equally popular PowerA controllers) should look familiar to Xbox owners. With a similar layout, the Pro Controller is more ergonomic for lengthy gaming sessions and has a rechargeable battery. Like the Joy-Cons, the Pro Controller is very easy to connect to the Mac.
1. Start by turning off the Nintendo Switch, just as you did with the Joy-Con steps. This will break the connection to the Pro Controller.
2. Click on the Bluetooth button in the Menu bar on the Mac and select “Open Bluetooth Preferences.”
3. Go back to the Pro Controller (or the PowerA) and press and hold the “Sync” button. It, too, is a small black button that can be found at the top of the Pro Controller.
4. When it appears on the list of available Bluetooth devices, click “Pair” and wait for it to say “Connected” underneath the Pro Controller name.
Remapping Your Controls
While the urge to jump right into a gaming session on your Mac will be strong once these devices are synced, there is one more step. You need to “map” your Joy-Con or Pro Controller layout to the individual game you wish to play. This same step applies to both the Xbox and PS4 controller, so it’s hardly unique to Nintendo. Most games available on the Mac, especially those through the Mac App Store, should include an option to “re-map” controls in the game. If the default layout is not working for you, you can find a button layout that does work and continue gaming. All in all, re-mapping controls should take less than a minute or two.
Nintendo Switch owners will find that having the ability to use their Joy-Cons or Pro Controller can make a world of difference for Mac gaming. However, If you find that the Joy-Cons are too small for your hands, you might want to consider these alternatives. Make sure you also check out our list of the best Pro Controller alternatives.