Remap game controllers to Mac, iPad, Apple TV and iPhone

Did you know that since the current Apple operating systems, you no longer need an additional app to remap game controllers or gamepads? So if you want to change the button assignment on a controller, you can do it directly in the settings of Mac, iPad, Apple TV and iPhone. I myself was only reminded of this again today – while researching the 8BitDo controllers for Apple devices. The new settings in macOS, iPadOS, tvOS and iOS make apps like Joystick mapper obsolete, right? I tried it out for you on the Mac and on the iPhone to see if this is the case. Do you have any questions? Then please leave a comment!

Since the operating systems for iPhone, Mac, iPad and Apple TV released in 2022, you can remap the buttons of gaming controllers on these devices without additional software.
Since the operating systems for iPhone, Mac, iPad and Apple TV released in 2022, you can remap the buttons of gaming controllers on these devices without additional software.

Remap controller buttons on Apple Mac

If you want to remap the buttons, sticks and knobs of a gamepad on the Apple Mac, then the computer must have the operating system macOS 13 Adventure (or newer) installed. In order to define a new controller key assignment in the settings, you must first pair the game controller, i.e. connect it via Bluetooth or connect it by cable. Only then does the required menu item appear. And you can find it like this:

  1. Click on the top left of the menu bar Apple logo ()
  2. Select the from the drop-down menu System Settings from
  3. Scroll down on the left side of the window that opens and click game controller an
  4. Select the gamepad you want to remap
  5. Under the "Profiles" overview, click the plus icon (+)

Once you have reached the settings window described and shown, you can give the new profile a name, e.g. B. "Xbox layout", "PlayStation layout", "Settings for child 1", "Settings for app xyz" or similar. Next, the strength of the haptic feedback (vibration or rumble) can be set. In the list below you can now select new assignments for the individual knobs, keys and sticks.

Once all the input options have been reassigned to your liking, click on the blue Done button. The new profile is then in the "Profiles" list. To assign this profile to the controller, click on its entry in the "Controller" list. Next to "Use profile" you can now select the created profile. Note that "All Games" is selected on the left by default. If the new assignment should only apply to a specific app, click on the plus symbol (+) below and add it. Select them, and only then determine the profile.

Do the new settings replace the old mapping apps?

The new remapping settings starting with macOS Ventura can use apps like Joystick mapper or other currently not substitute. Because these Apps are able to add mouse and keyboard capabilities to the controllers as well. Whether double-clicking, scrolling, copying, pasting or key combinations to trigger automations - this can currently only be placed on the buttons and other input options of game controllers with third-party solutions. In the macOS settings, only the gamepad functions can be rearranged, but no new ones can be added. However, this is sufficient for swapping the A and B buttons.

Gamepad remapping on Apple iPhone

In order to be able to reassign the buttons, keys and sticks of the gaming controller on the Apple iPhone, the smartphone must be iOS 16 (or newer). Again, the controller must first be paired via Bluetooth before you can remap the buttons. Depending on the device  If this works differently, look at the operating instructions. If you have successfully connected the gamepad and iPhone via Bluetooth, then go to these settings:

  1. Opens the Settings on your Apple iPhone
  2. Type the point General an
  3. Then select the point Game controller from
  4. Tap under the "Profiles" overview Add profile
  5. Tap on the individual points to reassign them

To use the newly created and saved profile, go back to the game controller overview (point 3 of the list). Then tap the controller for which you want to select a different profile. In its settings, tap on “Default Settings” to choose a different profile instead. To set this only for a specific game, you can also set this in the controller settings.

Remap game controllers on Apple iPad

As of iPadOS 16, the settings on the iPad are the same as the iOS settings on the iPhone described above. So you can use that as a guide.

Rearrange gamepad buttons on Apple TV

At least tvOS 16 must be installed in order to be able to equip a controller paired via Bluetooth with the Apple TV with new button assignments. If this is the case and the gamepad has been successfully paired, then proceed as follows:

  • Opens the Settings on your Apple TV
  • Pick the point General from
  • Then open the submenu Remote controls and devices
  • Choose in it again Bluetooth from
  • Now select the controller and set a new key sorting

Which controllers are compatible with Apple devices?

A wide variety of Bluetooth controllers can now be used with the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. In the support document HT210414 Apple only names Xbox and PlayStation models, but you can also use "another Bluetooth game controller". For example, you can see the screenshots above for the instructions on Mac and iPhone Pro controller of the Nintendo Switch. Their Joy-Cons can also be connected to Apple devices and used for games. Furthermore, 8BitDo controllers can be used via Bluetooth and cable. So you don't have to limit yourself to one or two models. Do you have a recommendation for input devices that work well with Apple Arcade and games from the App Store? Then please leave a comment :)

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In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.