Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Key Mapping Game Controllers on Mac OS X

I finally bought my first game controller. Here’s what I learned:

Before You Start:
You can use any Mac and a Playstation 3 or 4 controller. If you are buying a Ps3 controller make sure you buy a Mini USB coord and for Ps4 a Micro USB coord. There is a difference! You can use Xbox controllers but from what I have read they require downloading and installing drivers. Also there are other companies that sell game controllers but as the reviewers stated: “You get what you pay for”. 

What You Should Buy:

The Computer: If you are looking to buy a Mac buy a MacBook. I haven’t found a way to get Bluetooth working with anything but a MacBook on El Capitan and Yosemite. Remember you can always buy a bigger screen to attach to your MacBook.

Note: When I write MacBook I am talking about the MacBook, MacBook Air and Mac Book Pro.

The Game Controller: I would highly recommend the official Playstation 4 Game Controller. I have heard Playstation 3 controllers work but are a little more difficult to set up.

The Key Mapping App: I recommend downloading Enjoyable or Enjoy2. They both have bugs but they are free and they work with most versions of OS X. If you want more control at your fingertips you can buy an App from the Mac App Store or search Google.

USB Connection (with Enjoy2):
Step 1: Plug the controller into your computer.
Step 2: Open your Key Mapping App.
Step 3: Create a configuration file for you controller.
Step 4: Press a button or joy stick on your game controller then press the keyboard equivalent.
Step 5: Enable the configuration and open the Game you want to use with it.

If you are looking for a game to test your controller with I recommend my free game Galactic Space Junk in the Games section.

Bluetooth Connection (with a Playstation Controller):
Step 1 Note: I recommend trying the “USB Connection” instructions first so you know it works.
Step 1: Go to System Preferences click the Bluetooth icon.
Step 2: Click the button that says “Turn Bluetooth On”.
Step 3: Press the Playstation button in the middle of the controller to get it to appear on the screen.
Step 3 Note: I read that you should hold down the share button too. If Step 3 doesn’t work I would recommend trying it.
Step 4: Click the “Pair” button and you should be ready to go.

Note: If you have El Capitan or Yosemite, like me, I can guarantee it didn’t work. Try the steps below then the Bluetooth Connection steps above again.

Step 1: Delete the Bluetooth preferences in /Library/Preferences/com.apple.Bluetooth.plist
Step 1 Note: If you have other Bluetooth devices that have been paired try skipping this step. It may delete them and you will have to pair everything again. Also this is the .plist file in the Library folder with the System and Applications folders not the Home folder.
Step 2: Turn your Wi-Fi off
Step 3: Unplug all of the USB ports.
Step 3 Note: I recommend unplugging all of the ports except for the power coord.

Big Note: If you have an iMac, Mac Mini or Mac Pro you are probably wondering how to open the system preferences and select the Bluetooth icon without a USB Mouse and/or Keyboard. The only answer I can think of is to pair a Bluetooth Mouse and Keyboard. MacBooks have a trackpad and keyboard built-in.

Step 4: Restart your Mac and try the Bluetooth Connection steps again.
Step 5: If the Bluetooth connection does not work take a deep breath and come back to it later.
Step 6: If all else fails you can always plug it in with your USB coord.

I hope Apple will fix their Bluetooth pairing some day, but it seems unlikely for El Capitan. It would also be nice to use any controller with AppleTV out of the box. If you have any other solutions for setting up game controllers feel free to add a comment to this blog post.