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It’s official — you can now use your Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons with Steam

Joy-Cons
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Five-and-a-half years after the first Nintendo Switch units appeared on store shelves, the console’s unique Joy-Con controllers can now be used on Steam to control your PC game of choice.

Introduced in the latest Steam Beta (opens in new tab), Joy-Cons can be used individually as a hand-cramp inducing mini controller, or as a matched pair for a more traditional gamepad experience. In other words, it’s exactly how you’d use them with a Switch, barring the ability to physically clip them to the side of the screen.

To try this for yourself, you first need to be opted in to receive Steam beta updates. To do this, head into your Steam settings and find “Beta participation” in the Account menu. Click “Change”, then select “Steam Beta Update” and restart. 

You’ll also need to pair the pads with your computer. Here’s how to use Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons on PC and Mac — just be aware that you’ll either need Bluetooth built into your motherboard, or to have a USB Bluetooth dongle to hand.

Technically, as our sister site PC Gamer (opens in new tab) notes, you’ve been able to use Joy-Cons with PC games for some time. But the solution provided all the way back in 2017 wasn’t especially good, only allowing you to use a single Joy-Con, rather than pairing them as Nintendo intended. This official Steam support is far better, giving you a rudimentary multiplayer set-up for split-screen PC gaming in a pinch, as well as the far more comfortable matched pair configuration. 

Given optional Switch accessories like the Pro controller and various retro pads have been supported for some time, it may seem odd that Joy-Cons — the controllers actually in the box with every (non-Lite) Switch — have taken so long to get the official nod. We can only assume that’s down to the complexity of making them work together as they do when on their originally intended hardware.

Speaking of other Switch controllers, the latest Beta patch notes also report “improved support for the Nintendo Online classic controllers”. That’s the N64, SNES, NES and Genesis Bluetooth controllers built for retro titles, though it’s not clear what the improvements actually are.   

Next: Looking to put those Joy-cons to use? You can read about how I fell in love with Fall Guys again.

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.