After we reported on Steam’s new Big Picture beta coming to the Mac, we got a reader question that I figured it’d be good to write a tip on.
Playing games on your Mac is great fun of course, and all of them use the keyboard and/or mouse to control the games being played. However, with AirPlay mirroring, HDMI cable support, and a bunch of new games showing up for the Mac platform along their Windows brethren, there are times when a console style controller is a better alternative. Being able to sit on the couch and play our favorite Mac games has a lot to recommend it, and using an Xbox controller is fairly easy to set up.
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First of all, you’ll need an Xbox controller, wired or wireless with the Microsoft wireless adapter. I used a wired controller, but you should be able to get a wireless controller (with the wireless receiver you can get on Amazon for about $20) to work just as well.
Secondly, head over to TattieBogle, and download the driver for OS X there. This driver will let your Mac talk to the Xbox 360 controller, and vice versa. Once downloaded, mount the disk image with a double click on the .dmg file and then double click on the .pkg file that’s on it. Follow the prompts, just like any other OS X installer, to install the driver software. You won’t need to restart.
Now, plug in the Xbox 360 wired controller. The green lights around the middle Xbox button will light up, but then will go dark. Unlike when connected to an actual Xbox 360, the controller will not light up when connected to your Mac. Now, pull up System Preferences, either from the Apple Menu or from within your Applications folder. There should be an Xbox 360 Controllers preference icon in the lower right, now. Click on that, and you’ll see a control panel like the screenshot above. Pressing the buttons will darken them on the control panel, so you can see that the controller is working.
Now, launch Steam, or other controller-enabled game, on your Mac, and get to gaming! You can send your Mac screen to your Apple TV or use an HDMI cable to get it up on your HDTV. I recommend the cable, as Airplay can have a little bit of lag between a button press and the effect, depending on your router’s wi-fi signal.