Controller Not Working with Dolphin Emulator (Fix)

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

Dolphin Emulator is an incredibly versatile tool that allows you to play Nintendo GameCube and Wii games on your computer. However, with such a wide range of controllers and different computer setups, it’s not surprising that some users may experience issues when trying to get their controllers to work with Dolphin.

One of the most common issues that users experience is when Dolphin does not detect their controller, or when the controller is not working properly in-game. This can be frustrating, but as we’ve seen, there are several solutions that you can try to resolve the issue.

Dolphin Emulator controller not working

It’s also worth noting that there are some controllers that users have reported issues with more frequently than others. For example, Xbox One controllers, PS4 controllers, and Wii remotes are all controllers that some users have reported difficulty getting to work with Dolphin.

Also see: How to Play PC Games with PS5, PS4 or Xbox Controller on Windows 11

Check the “Device” Drop-Down in Controller Settings

If your controller is not detected by Dolphin, the first thing you should do is check the “Device” drop-down in the “Controller Settings”. Sometimes, the controller is not automatically detected by Dolphin and you need to manually select it from the drop-down menu.

You can access the “Device” drop-down in Dolphin Emulator by following these steps:

  1. Open Dolphin Emulator.
  2. Click “Options” from the menu bar and then select “Controller Settings“.Dolphin Controller Settings
  3. Click the “Configure” button next to the “Standard Controller” under “GameCube Controllers” or “Emulated Wii Remote” under “Wii Remotes”, depending on the game you want to play.Dolphin not recognizing controller
  4. Under “Device“, click the drop-down menu and select the Controller you want to use with Dolphin Emulator.Dolphin not detecting controller

Reboot Your Computer

If Dolphin emulator still doesn’t detect your controller, try rebooting your PC. Sometimes, a simple restart can solve the issue. This is particularly helpful when you’ve installed or connected a new controller or updated Dolphin to a newer version.

Suggested tip: How to Use Wireless Controller as Mouse and Keyboard in Windows 11

Check If Your PC Detects Your Controller

Before troubleshooting Dolphin emulator’s controller issues, it’s important to check if your PC recognizes your controller. If your computer doesn’t detect your controller, Dolphin emulator won’t be able to detect it either.

To check if your PC detects your controller, go to Settings > Bluetooth & devices in Windows. If your controller is listed there, it means that your PC recognizes it.

Windows 11 Wireless Controller

You can also check if your controller is working by testing it on other games or applications. For example, you can test it on Steam’s Big Picture mode or on other emulators. If your controller is working fine on other games or applications, the issue might be specific to Dolphin emulator.

If your controller is not detected by your PC, make sure that it’s properly connected and that you have the latest drivers installed. You can also try using a different USB port or a different cable. If your controller is still not detected, it might be faulty, and you should consider replacing it.

See also: How to Reinstall Bluetooth Driver in Windows 11

Update to the Latest Dev Build

If you’re using an older version of Dolphin, it’s possible that it may not be able to support newer controllers that have been released since its last update. In this case, it may be worth updating to the latest development (Dev) build of Dolphin to see if that resolves the issue.

Development builds of Dolphin are essentially experimental versions of the software that are being constantly updated by the development team. While these builds may not be as stable as the official releases, they often contain new features, bug fixes, and compatibility updates that can help you get your controller working with Dolphin.

To update to the latest Dev build, you can visit the Dolphin Emulator website and download the latest version. Once you have the new version installed, try connecting your controller and see if it is detected by Dolphin.

Update Dolphin Emulator

Try Connecting the Controller Before Launching Dolphin

Some users have reported that Dolphin does not recognize the controller if it hasn’t been connected before the emulator was launched. So, try connecting the controller before launching Dolphin and see if that works.

Add Dolphin as a Non-Steam Game and Launch with Steam Overlay

One possible solution to try if your controllers are working with Steam is to add Dolphin as a non-Steam game and launch it with a Steam overlay. Steam can provide drivers for certain rare devices and controllers that may not work natively in Windows, which may help you get your controller working with Dolphin.

Dolphin controller not working in game

Try opening Dolphin through Steam and configuring your controller using the Steam inputs. This has worked for some users who were experiencing issues with their controllers not being recognized by Dolphin.

Create a Shortcut to the Game on Your Desktop

Another solution that has worked for some users is to create a shortcut to the game on your Desktop, so that you can start the game directly without having to launch it from the Dolphin menu. Then, change the Dolphin settings in Steam and set the “Target” of the shortcut to the shortcut for the game on your Desktop.

These are some of the solutions that have worked for users who have faced issues with their controllers not working with Dolphin Emulator. It’s worth noting that not all solutions work for everyone, and it may take some trial and error to find the one that works for you.

Related issue: Steam Game No Icon and Not Working – “Problem with Shortcut”

Try a Different USB Port

If your controller is still not being detected by Dolphin, try plugging it into a different USB port. Some USB ports might not work properly or might have compatibility issues with certain controllers. If you’re using a USB hub, try connecting your controller directly to your PC’s USB port.

Different USB Port for Controller

Update Your Controller Drivers

If you’re using an Xbox One, PS4, or PS5 controller, make sure you have the latest drivers installed. You can check the manufacturer’s website to download the latest drivers. Windows 10 and macOS have built-in support for these controllers, so make sure that your operating system is up to date.

Use a Different Controller

If Dolphin still can’t recognize your controller, try using a different one. You can try a wired Xbox 360 controller or a Wii remote. Make sure that you’ve properly configured the controller in Dolphin’s settings.

Controller Not Working with Dolphin Emulator

Use a third-party controller configuration tool

Another solution that can help you fix Dolphin emulator’s controller issues is to use third-party controller configuration tools such as DS4Windows. This is particularly helpful if you’re using a PS4 controller with Dolphin emulator.

DS4Windows is a free tool that allows you to use a PS4 controller on your PC. It emulates an Xbox 360 controller, which is recognized by most games and emulators, including Dolphin. By using DS4Windows, you can map your PS4 controller buttons to Xbox 360 buttons, which makes it easier to configure your controller in Dolphin’s settings.

DS4Windows for PS4 Controllers

To Sum It Up

In summary, Dolphin emulator’s controller issues can be frustrating, but they can usually be resolved by following the troubleshooting tips provided in this article. With a bit of persistence and experimentation, you should be able to get your controller working with Dolphin and enjoy all of your favorite Nintendo games on your computer.

However, if you’ve tried all of these solutions and are still unable to resolve the issue, it might be time to consider purchasing a new controller. While it may be an additional expense, it can save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run.

Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

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