Games Controller For Mac

Gaming on the Mac isn't as big as on PC, but there's still some great games out there for Apple computers. In some cases you'll be OK using a keyboard and mouse, but for a lot of people, kicking back and using a controller is the way to game.

Aug 17, 2018  Gaming-on-the-go is the new phenomenon taking the entertainment community by storm - however, many gamers struggle to navigate games effectively using just their Mac controls. Here is how to use an Xbox 360 controller on a Mac.

If that sounds like you and you're looking for a good controller, look no further. Here's what to get.

Xbox One controller

You can't just plug and play the Xbox One controller on the Mac, but getting it working really doesn't take much effort. And when it's up and running you'll have one of the best controller experiences on any platform right there for your Mac games.

The Xbox One controller isn't all that expensive and has an offset design for its thumbsticks which many find much more comfortable than Sony's side-by-side arrangement. It's a great size, not too heavy and has nice big bumpers and triggers.

The standard black controller is around $45, but there are a ton of special edition designs out there for various prices that might be more to your liking.

Sony DualShock 4

While the Xbox One controller is preferable for many, others swear by Sony's DualShock 4. It's a very different design but equally proficient in its own right for Mac gaming. Again, it's not exactly plug and play, but the process of making sure it's working properly is very simple.

The DualShock 4 is very comfortable in the hand with great triggers and bumpers, albeit both a little smaller than on something like an Xbox controller. The biggest difference is the side-by-side analog sticks.

It's lightweight so it's great for long gaming sessions, and Sony also has an official adapter to allow you to use it with your Mac wirelessly, though they can be hard to find. But for around $50, this is another great controller and it works perfectly with Steam.

Steam Controller

Steam is more commonly associated with PC gaming but there's still a decent supply of Mac compatible games in there. If this is where you get most of your games from, them the official Steam Controller might be the one for you, and it has full, official Mac support.

It's a bit unusual compared to many controllers, thanks in no small part to the touchpad which you find where you might expect one of the analog sticks. The Steam Controller has been designed so you can play keyboard and mouse games comfortably with a controller.

There's a bit of a learning curve, but when you get used to it it's just as easy to use as any other controller. It sells for $50 but Valve is frequently discounting it, so there's always a chance of a bargain if you can wait until the next sale.

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BestGame Controllers for Apple TV and Apple ArcadeiMore2020

Playing games on your Apple TV is always more comfortable with a controller, and since Apple Arcade released, there are a ton of games that can use a controller. The SteelSeries Nimbus is the best game controller to ensure your gaming sessions are at comfortable as possible and feel like a full-blown console experience when you're playing your favorite Apple Arcade games.

Best Overall: SteelSeries Nimbus

One of the essential things in any gaming controller is how it feels in your hand, and the SteelSeries Nimbus is beyond comfortable. Extended gaming sessions are no problem, and your hands shouldn't feel cramped or sore no matter what game you're playing. It's all thanks to the ergonomic design of the controller.

While some people don't like the joysticks in the side-by-side configuration (similar to a PlayStation controller), the way the handles are designed and force you to hold the SteelSeries Nimbus make it much more comfortable. If you play a lot of games that need dual-sticks to function — so your mileage may vary.

Let's talk buttons because the SteelSeries Nimbus has a full direction pad (D-Pad), A, B, X, and Y buttons, both bumpers, and triggers on the left and right side, and a menu button in the middle. All the buttons are very responsive and are sensitive, so when you press a button, you know it.

I've had my Nimbus for over two years, and I use it multiple times a week. The buttons haven't reduced to a mushy mess, yet - which is a lot less than I can say for even my PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller. On top of the controller, you'll also find a power button and a Bluetooth button used for pairing. It's also super easy to put the controller into pairing mode to connect to a new device or turn off the controller to make sure you conserve battery power.


  • Fantastic 40-hour battery life
  • Comfortable ergonomic design
  • Compatible with Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad
  • Lightning charging


  • Can't 100% control your Apple TV
  • Only one Bluetooth connection at a time

Best Overall

SteelSeries Nimbus

Made for gaming on all your Apple devices

With 40-hour battery life and responsive buttons, the SteelSeries Nimbus is the best controller for Apple TV and Apple Arcade.

Source: iMore

The Horipad Ultimate is another reliable full MFi controller that will pair well with your Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Its two-toned look offers a bit more of a unique look, and the thumbsticks have a slightly less concave construction, which may be more comfortable for some people.

Lory, iMore's Managing Editor, has mentioned that the Horipad Ultimate feels better in smaller hands, meaning if you have big palms, you may want to look elsewhere.


  • Better for smaller hands

Best Battery Life

Horipad Ultimate

Even more playing time

Similar to the SteelSeries Nimbus, the Horipad Ultimate features all the same buttons, but it doubles the battery life!

Source: iMore

Being cheap and small, the SteelSeries Stratus is perfect for people who like to carry their gaming controllers around or ensure they don't take up a lot of space.

The Stratus does come with a few drawbacks. It uses a much older version of Bluetooth, and it only holds about a 10-hour charge. Plus, the R2 and L2 buttons can be a tad hard to reach, making the Stratus better suited for retro-styled games that have fewer controls.


  • Compact
  • Lightning charging
  • Great for retro-styled gaming


  • 10-hour battery life
  • L2 and R2 buttons hard to reach

Best Compact Controller

SteelSeries Stratus

More compact retro-inspired design

If having a full-sized controller seems like too much, the SteelSeries Stratus offers a lot in a smaller package.

Source: iMore

If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? The DualShock 4 is the standard controller that comes in the PlayStation 4 box and therefore, comes with the design we've come to expect. If you like it already but wish it were a little more interesting, Sony has a range of different colors available.

One of the significant drawbacks of using the DualShock 4 with your Apple TV is never knowing exactly how much battery power you have left, meaning it can just turn off on you in the middle of a gaming session if you don't ensure you've topped up the battery.


  • Can't check battery life on Apple TV
  • micro-USB charging

Best for PS4 users

DualShock 4

Familiar design

The DualShock 4 is the standard controller that comes in the PlayStation 4 box and therefore if you like it, it's a great choice!.

Best for Xbox One users: Xbox One Wireless Controller

The Xbox One controller is a super comfortable gaming experience, and not only works with Apple TV. But it works seamlessly with the PC, too, either wired or over Bluetooth.

If you're not a fan of dumping AA batteries inside it, there's a play and charge kit available that transforms it into a rechargeable controller. And whether it's through the Design Lab or the ridiculous amount of special edition designs, there's a color combo that's perfect for you.


  • Needs AA batteries

Best for Xbox One users

Xbox One Wireless Controller

Super comfortable

The official Xbox One controller has a tweaked design, adding more grippy parts on the rear side, making it comfortable to hold.

Bottom line

When it comes to gaming on your Apple TV, a great gamepad can go a long way, and the SteelSeries Nimbus is the best around. Its 40-hour battery life is more than enough to keep you gaming for extended periods, and thanks to its comfortable ergonomic design, your hands won't cramp up!

The buttons on the SteelSeries Nimbus are nice and firm, and provide good tactile feedback when pressed, so you know your inputs are being received. Plus, it works with Mac, iOS, and Apple TV giving you the option to upgrade your gaming experience no matter what device you use to play your favorite Apple Arcade games.

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Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Luke Filipowicz is an iMore staff writer who plays way too many video games and his hands-on experience with several MFi controllers made this guide possible.

Lory Gil is the Managing Editor of iMore and knows her way around both an Apple TV and MFi gaming controllers. She's a believer in the SteelSeries Nimbus herself.

Rene Ritchie is the foremost authority on all things Apple and has insider knowledge about the goings-on at the biggest tech company in the world. He knows everything, literally everything, there is to know about Apple.

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