Fix: Steam Not Detecting & Recognizing Controller

When Steam stops recognizing the controller, it signifies that some misconfigured settings have been automatically applied to Steam. This can occur due to a Steam update. Therefore, if you’ve recently updated the Steam app, there’s a high chance that these misconfigured settings have been applied to Steam by the update, causing this issue.

Moreover, Steam might not recognize the controller if there is corruption in the Steam files. Corruption in the Steam files can be caused by interference from the antivirus software or third-party applications.

Therefore, after following all the solutions listed below, if the issue persists, it is recommended to reinstall Steam. Now, let’s jump into the solutions to this issue.

1. Check if your PC is detecting the controller

Before we proceed with configuring the controller settings, it’s recommended that you ensure your operating system is detecting the controller. This is important because if the operating system isn’t detecting it, then Steam won’t either. Therefore, you need to confirm that Steam is detecting the controller by following these steps:

  1. Right-click the Start Menu and select Device Manager to open it.
  2. Once the device manager is opened, find the controller, right-click on it, and select Properties.

If you see the device status “The device is working properly,” it means the controller is properly connected and working on your Windows, which means the issue is from the Steam settings and the files. Now let’s start troubleshooting the issue.

2. Make sure the game supports the controller

Another thing you need to ensure is that the game you are trying to play has the support of a controller. If that’s the case, only then follow the following methods to troubleshoot the issue. To check if the game supports the controller, follow the steps:

  1. Open Steam, go to Library.
  2. Here, you need to apply the filter of the controller. To do so, click the filter icon, select the Controllers (full) and the Controllers (partial) under Hardware Support.
  3. On the left side, you will see the games that support the controller.

3. Use the Cable to connect the controller

If you are using the wireless controller, it is recommended to use the cable to connect to the controller. If the controller is working with the wired connection, then switch back to the wireless connection. This will fix the lack of communication between the devices so that Steam can recognize the controller.

4. Recover Steam Controller Firmware

Firmware is software that is installed within the hardware component, allowing the device to communicate with the operating system. Sometimes, bugs and glitches in the firmware cause issues with the controller. Therefore, consider recovering the Steam controller firmware, which will restore the software that controls the functionality of a controller. To do so, follow the steps:

  1. Launch the Steam application.
  2. Click on Steam from the top and select Settings.
  3. Go to the Controller settings from the left.
  4. Click on General Controller Settings. This will navigate you into the controller settings.
  5. Here you need to click on Recover Steam Controller Firmware.
  6. Once done, check if the Steam is now recognizing the controller or not.

5. Reset the controller

Resetting the controller refers to a process in which the controller turns off and then turns on. However, if your controller has a reset button on the back side, then you just need to use that button to reset the controller instead of turning it off and on. Once done, check if the controller is working.

6. Disable Steam Input

Steam input is a feature that allows users to play any controller-supported game with any controller of their choice. This feature understands the user input and translates it into something that the game can understand. However, one of the users has fixed this issue successfully by disabling the Steam input for the controller. [Source]. Therefore, we also recommend disabling Steam input by following the steps:

  1. Open Steam, go to Library.
  2. Right-click the game and select Properties.
  3. Go to Controller from the left pane, and select Disable Steam input from the list of options.
  4. Once done, now launch the game and see if the controller is working.

7. Run Steam in big-picture mode

Big Picture is a mode on Steam that is specifically designed for use with a TV and a controller. Furthermore, in the official Steam article on Controller Issues, they have recommended running Steam in Big Picture mode to ensure Steam recognizes the controller. To run Steam in big-picture mode, follow the steps:

  1. Open Steam, and click the TV icon to enter the big picture mode.
  2. Now, launch the game to check if the controller is working or not.

8. Opt into the most Up-to-date version of the Steam Beta

Opting into the most recent and up-to-date version of the Steam beta will let you access the new features before they get released. It is possible that Steam cannot recognize the controller due to a problem with the Steam version. Therefore, Steam has recommended opting into the most up-to-date version of Steam beta to resolve this issue. [Source]. To switch to the Steam beta version, follow the steps:

  1. Open Steam, and click the Steam icon from the top right.
  2. Select Settings, and go to Interface from the left pane.
  3. Select the Steam Beta Update from the dropdown of Client Beta Participation.
  4. Once done, you will be prompted to restart Steam. Click Restart Now.
  5. Now, launch the game and see if the controller is working.

10. Run Steam as an Administrator

It is possible that Steam does not have the necessary permissions to access the controller. In this case, you can try running Steam with administrator privileges. This will grant all the permissions that Steam needs to access the controller and the other DLL and redistributable files. To do so, follow the steps:

  1. Right-click the Steam and select Properties.
  2. If you don’t have a Steam shortcut, click the Start Menu and search Steam.
  3. Then, right-click on the Steam and select Properties.
  4. Go to Compatibility and tick Run this program as an administrator.
  5. Once done, click Apply and click OK.
  6. Now launch the game and see if the controller is working in the game.

11. Update Controller Drivers

You can also try updating the controller drivers if the issue persists. Updating the controller drivers will overwrite the old drivers and also resolve issues that are preventing it from running correctly. To update the controller drivers, follow the steps:

  1. Right-click the Start Menu and select Device Manager to open it.
  2. Right-click the controller and select Update Driver.
  3. Select Search automatically for drivers. If the drivers are found, install them and see if you are still facing the issue.

12. Update Steam

If you are using an outdated version of Steam, kindly update your Steam version. This is because outdated applications cannot communicate properly with the server and the hardware components. Therefore, it is recommended to ensure you are not using an outdated version of Steam.

To ensure you are using an updated version, open Steam.

  1. Click Settings from the top, then click Check for Steam Client Updates. If you receive a message, your Steam Client is already up to date. Then, move on to the final method. Otherwise, update your Steam Client to the latest version.
  2. Once done, now launch the game and verify if the controller is working or not.

13. Reinstall Steam

This issue also occurs when there is a problem with the Steam files. If all the above methods fail to fix this issue, you can try reinstalling the Steam application. Reinstalling the Steam app will resolve all the issues if they are caused by Steam files.

Before you reinstall Steam, make sure to back up the Steam apps folder so that you won’t lose any games when reinstalling.

  1. Open the Steam app directory by right-clicking Steam and selecting Open File Location.
  2. Now go to the Steam apps folder, then the Common folder.
  3. Copy all the game folders and paste them somewhere as a backup.
  4. Once done, open Settings by pressing Win + I on the keyboard.
  5. Go to Apps > Installed Apps.
  6. Search for the Steam application.
  7. Click the three dots, and click Uninstall.
  8. Again, click Uninstall to remove the application.
  9. Once done, download the Steam app using the link.
  10. Then, double-click the Steam installer and follow the on-screen instructions to install the Steam app.
  11. Once done, restore the games that you have backed up. Then, see if the controller is now working.

Steam Not Recognizing Controller- FAQs

How do I get Steam to recognize my Steam controller?

If Steam is not recognizing the controller, but the other games do, try reinstalling Steam properly. If the issue persists, then use the big picture mode or recover the Steam Controller Firmware to resolve this issue.

Why is Steam not detecting the controller?

Oftentimes, Steam stops recognizing the controller due to an issue with its firmware. In this case, we recommend recovering the Steam Firmware Controller to resolve this issue.


Hamza Mohammad Anwar

Hamza Mohammad Anwar is an intermediate JavaScript web developer with a focus on developing high-performance applications using MERN technologies. His skill set includes expertise in ReactJS, MongoDB, Express NodeJS, and other related technologies. Hamza is also a Google IT Certified professional, which highlights his competence in IT support. As an avid problem-solver, he recreates errors on his computer to troubleshoot and find solutions to various technical issues.