How to Connect a PS3 Controller Without a USB

Techwalla may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
How to Connect a PS3 Controller Without a USB
Image Credit: bernardbodo/iStock/GettyImages

The PlayStation 3 controller, formally known as the DualShock 3, is a versatile, twin-stick game controller designed for comfort and ease of use. Though it allows for motion controls in compatible games, the biggest difference between it and the DualShock 2 controller used with the PlayStation 2 is that the PlayStation 3 controller is designed for wireless use. While the controller can be used and charged simultaneously by using a mini-USB cable plugged into the console, it does not require a cable connection for general use.


Wireless Gaming With PS3 Controller

Because the DualShock 3 does not require a cable, users can take their controllers on the go and easily connect to a friend's console – or, with the right software installed, use their controller to play games on a Windows PC wirelessly. If you can't find the USB cable used to connect your controller with your console, there's no need to panic. After you sync a PS3 controller with a device once, you can connect and use it without a cable.

PlayStation 3 Controller Connections

The DualShock 3 features two connection methods that allow it to communicate and interact with devices. It allows for wired connections via a mini-USB port located at the top of the controller, between the two sets of trigger buttons. But the controller is also capable of wireless connections via a Bluetooth wireless controller located inside the casing. Upon plugging the controller into a device, it will function like any USB device and connect once turned on (by holding the PlayStation button at the center of the controller).


However, unlike the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii, the PS3 wireless controller settings do not allow for fully wireless pairing. In other words, a USB cable is required for first-time setup – regardless of whether you're connecting a controller to a new console or a new computer. However, subsequent uses don't require a cable connection to connect the controller. Instead, it requires only a few button presses or clicks.

Connecting Wirelessly to PS3 Console

Once a DualShock 3 has been paired with a PS3 console (done by connecting the controller with a USB cable and then holding the PlayStation button), it will automatically connect to the console when turned on. As long as the controller's battery is charged, it can be connected by simply pressing the PlayStation button and waiting. The four LEDs at the top – generally used to designate controller number – will blink briefly as the DualShock 3 searches for nearby devices it can connect to.


When the controller locates the PS3, the lights will stop blinking and will stay on. The controller will then be connected and usable with the system, as normal.

Connecting Wirelessly to Windows PC

Because the DualShock 3 is a Bluetooth-enabled device, it can be connected wirelessly to any Bluetooth-enabled Windows PC (or any Windows PC equipped with a Bluetooth receiver dongle). If the DualShock 3 has been connected to the PC before, make sure the computer is able to receive Bluetooth connections and then hold down the PlayStation button. The controller should connect quickly.


If your DualShock 3 was configured for use by the program "ScpToolkit," you will need to ensure that the Scp Server program is running before attempting to connect – otherwise the controller may not work after its connection.

Resetting DualShock 3 Connections

In the event that a controller continuously fails to connect, it can be reset and reconfigured from the default settings. To do this, use a pin or similarly thin object to press the reset button located on the underside of the controller, near the L2 button. Note, however, that resetting the controller may require you to pair it again before it can be used, which will require a USB cable.