How to use an Xbox 360 controller with Steam games

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by ziggyonice, May 28, 2010.

  1. ziggyonice macrumors 68020


    Mar 12, 2006
    Rural America
    I've seen a few people ask if it's possible to use an Xbox 360 controller with Steam for Mac. As of right now, the answer is yes and no. After doing a lot of guessing and messing around with some settings, here's how you can make it work… sort of. There's some kinks and it doesn't work perfect, but until there's an update to Steam to make this work officially, this is about all that we can do. Basically, it comes down to remapping the controls.


    First off, this requires two pieces of software: the Xbox 360 Controllers driver and GamePad Companion. Both of them are preference panes that need to be installed into System Preferences. Download them and run their installers. It'll require a restart.

    Once you've installed those two programs, connect your Xbox controller. Go into System Preferences and open Xbox 360 Controllers. Hopefully the controller will be detected and you should be able to press buttons, move analog sticks, etc. We're done here (we just wanted to verify that the controller was recognized). Now we've got work to do.

    For this demonstration, I'm using Portal because it's the easiest control-scheme wise. Follow along, if you like.

    Launch Portal, and once at the main screen, select Options. Go to the "Keyboard" tab. We have to change a few things here.

    "Fire blue portal" -- Change to the number "1" on the keyboard.
    "Fire red portal" -- Change to the number "2" on the keyboard.
    "Turn left" -- Change to the "Left Arrow" on the keyboard.
    "Turn right" -- Change to the "Right Arrow" on the keyboard.

    (Note: we're not going to change "Look up" or "Look down" because there seems to be a bug trying to get this to work. If anyone knows of a fix for this, please post it! It'll make the game run much smoother!)


    After you've done that, apply the settings and hit OK.

    Now either quit Portal or Command+Tab out of it. Go to System Preferences and open GamePad Companion. You might have to hit "Start" or "Stop" to get your controller to show up. Once it does, you should see a couple of items in the sidebar on the left (depending on your Mac). Make sure you select "Controller" at the bottom. We have to remap the keys on the controller to match the keys used by Portal.


    This is pretty easy, but this took me forever to figure out. So I did all the hard work for you. :) Here are the answers:

    Click "Selected element" at the top and just go down the line.

    X-Axis. For the "Action" select "Multiple keys". Type "D" for the first key and "A" for the second key.
    Y-Axis. Select "Multiple keys." Type "S" for the first key and "W" for the second key.
    X-Rotation. Multiple keys. Hit the "right arrow" on your keyboard as the first key, and the "left arrow" as the second.
    Y-Rotation. Select "Mouse Y-Axis." Turn the sensitivity/tracking on ALL siders ALL THE WAY DOWN!

    [skip to Button #1]

    Button #1. For the "Action" select "Single key." Hit the spacebar on your keyboard as the key to use.
    [skip Button #2]
    Button #3. For the "Action" select "Single key." Hit the ctrl key on your keyboard.
    Button #4, single key, hit the "E" key.
    Z-Axis. Select "Multiple Keys" and hit the numbers "1" and then "3" on your keyboard.
    Z-Rotation. Select "Multiple Keys" and then hit the numbers "2" and then "4" on your keyboard.

    Once that's done, hit "Start" and jump into Portal. Give it a try and see what you think.


    Despite making this guide, this is NOT a very elegant solution. In fact, this is a terrible solution. But if you're desperate and really want 360 controller support, this'll do it until Valve updates Steam to support it.

    You can map the other keys to match other functions if you want (Quick save, pause, etc.). If you want to try that, here are the corresponding buttons: Button #5 (left bumper), Button #6 (right bumper), Button #9 (select), Button #10 (start), Button #11 (dashboard).

    Note that looking up and down is very difficult to do and may even be a good reason for not even trying to do this. Unfortunately, the "Look up" and "Look down" controls cannot be changed for whatever reason . Whenever I attempt to assign those movements to the keyboard, it simply doesn't respond. Apparently this has been an issue for a while. Because of this, it results in very jumpy movement when attempting to look up/down. This is probably the only major hinderance with this solution.

    I recorded a quick video (8MB) so you can see what it looks like (no audio... weird). Anyway, you'll see that in the video it's really difficult looking up/down, causing it to skip all over the place... which made shooting the portal on the ceiling nearly impossible... so I gave up. (So if anyone knows how to fix that "Look up/down" keyboard glitch, post it!)

    So that’s it. Good luck! (And c'mon Valve, let's see some official support for this!)
  2. toptekjon macrumors regular


    Jul 16, 2008

    Great tutorial. Thanks very much!!

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