How to use Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers with Mac

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The Nintendo Switch's flexible Joy-Con controllers work just fine with a Mac (but not an iPhone).
The Nintendo Switch's flexible Joy-Con controllers work just fine with a Mac (but not an iPhone).
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Nintendo’s long-awaited Switch gaming console packs an surprisingly cool feature: You can use its unique Joy-Con controllers to play games on your Mac.

In many ways, the Switch, which launched last week, marks a big change in direction for Nintendo. The Japanese firm, which previously pushed proprietary ports and locked down its consoles as much as possible, did away with region locking on the Switch and adopted USB-C for charging and connectivity. The device is designed to work as a home gaming console as well as a portable gaming machine.

The joys of Joy-Con controllers

The two Joy-Con controllers that come with the Nintendo Switch provide unusual flexibility as well. Each one boasts a joystick as well as several buttons.

The Joy-Cons can be joined to form a single controller or used separately, depending on the game’s requirements. They can function as traditional gamepads for button-mashing games or work like the Wii’s motion controllers for other titles. The Joy-Con’s “HD rumble” feature provides haptic feedback, much like the Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine.

Like the PlayStation 4’s DualShock controllers, the Switch Joy-Con controllers connect to the gaming console using Bluetooth. That means they can also talk to other Bluetooth devices. Hook them up to your Mac, Windows PC or Android-powered device and you can use them to play your favorite games on those platforms.

Unfortunately, they don’t work with iPhones and iPads. “iOS uses its own Bluetooth controller specification, which means it does not work natively with the Joy-Con or Switch Pro controllers,” according to TechCrunch.

When using the Joy-Cons with a Mac, they get recognized as separate controllers. That is fine if you want to use them individually for simpler games that require just one analog stick. However, you can’t yet use them simultaneously to take full advantage of both sticks and all the buttons. (Here’s to hoping we’ll get software to change that.)

How to use Nintendo Switch controllers with Mac

Pairing Nintendo Switch controllers to your Mac is as simple as connecting any other Bluetooth device. Simply find the Joy-Cons under the Bluetooth menu in System Preferences. On Android and macOS, they’ll work right out of the box. If you want to use them with a PC, you’ll need an app like JoyToKey to map the controls on Windows.

This post has been updated to more accurately describe the functionality of the Joy-Con controllers.

Via: The Verge

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  • Tallest Skil

    I was surprised to discover the Switch Pro Controller worked natively with computers, but the JoyCons themselves? Even more so. I wish the Switch was more impressive hardware-wise, though. Honestly, the concept still hasn’t sold itself to me yet, and I’ve a sneaking suspicion that there’ll be a Switch XL with a larger screen and more powerful hardware within two years…