Oh, how the frustration can mount when our technology goes on the fritz. When it’s a piece of tech that’s the center point of your entire experience, it’s even worse! Imagine how angry you’d be if you’d just completed one of the hardest bosses in a video game, or just had a fantastic win when playing online…and your controller suddenly goes unresponsive. The horror! Another common occurrence for many users comes when they boot up their PS4, only to find that their controllers won’t connect. What do you do, when the lights start blinking? Blue lights? White lights? Orange lights? Each of these has a specific meaning, and in the following article, we’re going to show you how to troubleshoot all of them.
If this particular PlayStation 4-centric problem has ever given you trouble, then read on to find your solution. You’ll be back in the game in no time at all!
For the most part, wireless controllers are a godsend. They allow us to kick back, relax, and enjoy our games without the messy tangle of cords. On top of that, they tend to hold a battery charge for a reliable long amount of time. This means that you don’t have to stop your play sessions to charge them, very often.
However, with all of those benefits come a few drawbacks. They’re obstacles that users of wireless technology have been dealing with for years, but those problems have followed this controller setup to modern consoles. Don’t worry, PS4 fanboys—Xbox One controllers can suffer from very similar problems.
Fortunately, it rarely means that a controller is actually useless. In fact, your controllers are probably fine! A little bit of basic troubleshooting will more than likely have them working inside of a minute.
The flashing lights on the controller bar are just one means of letting you diagnose their operation. Based on what color the light is flashing you can know if your controller is connected, trying to connect, low on battery, or otherwise. Some games even take specific advantage of the PS4 controller, in order to have it display certain colors during certain parts of the game. A very popular option, for example, is to have the controller glow a deep, haunting red when you get a “game over.”
It’s not just the PS4’s controllers that use light indicators, either. The system itself makes use of them and allows you to know how the system is operating based on the color of the light that you see. We’ll go into all of this in detail, below; for now, it suffices to say that if your controller is still lighting up, there’s probably nothing wrong with it.
The PlayStation 4 Controllers
Though they might seem relatively simple at first glance, the PS4 controllers are actually exceedingly well designed. They’re sturdy, don’t feel cheap, and manage to withstand an immense amount of wear and tear at the hands of frustrated gamers. This is a noteworthy feat, considering that they’re also fairly high tech.
They have all of the usual features that you’d expect from a PlayStation console controller, at this point. The twin analog sticks, shoulder buttons, triggers, D-pad, and the usual four buttons found on the right side, Cross, Square, Circle, and Triangle. However, from there, the controller differs slightly from its predecessors. Gone are the Start and Select buttons; they’ve been replaced by the all-inclusive “Options” button and the “Share” button. The first brings together all of the Start and Select menu functions to a single button, and the Share button allows you to actively share your gameplay without pausing from it, either by way of screenshots, recorded video, or online broadcasting.
Perhaps the most jarring change is the addition of the touch-sensitive pad in the center of the controller. The newer model PlayStation 4 controllers actually feature a light bar at the top of this pad, rather than at the top of the controller—though, the following details about the light colors are just as applicable. The touchpad functions in a flexible way, serving whatever purpose game developers choose to apply to it.
Colors & How to Interpret Them
If you’re playing with the stock controllers that came with your PlayStation 4, the light bar is probably at the top of the controller. If you’re using a newer model, it’s situated at the top of the controller’s touchpad. When you’re browsing through the PS4 system menu, the colors will always behave the same. The only times that you will see differentiation from the following list is when you’re playing games that take advantage of different colors.
- Blinking White: The controller is searching for a connection to your PS4. If it continues to do so without making a connection, the fix is easy. First, flip your controller upside down and locate the small, pinhole-sized recess. Using a pen, or similarly thin object, press down the reset button inside of this hole. After that, connect your controller to the console via USB, and perform the connection again. Easy peasy!
- Solid White: Your controller has found a connection to your PS4, but the console is either still booting up, or still getting ready for you to use. This frequently appears when you’re in the middle of updating your PS4 firmware.
- Solid Blue: Connection established, console booted up; you’re ready to go! The blue light indicates that your controller is registered as “Controller 1.” If you have several connected to the PS4 at once, they will take on different colors—red, orange, and green.
The only light indicator that demands your attention is the blinking white one, and only if it continues to persist once you’ve fully booted up the console itself. Follow the instructions above, and you’ll very likely have your controller up and running with no trouble whatsoever.
The PlayStation 4 Console
In addition to the light bar on the controller, the PlayStation 4 also has its own light indicator. Using this, you can determine what state your console is in and if it’s ready for you to get to gaming. The colors represent virtually the same thing as they do on your controller, with a little bit of a twist.
- Solid White: Your console is on, ready to rock ‘n roll. You’re either playing a game, or ready to play a game, and your PlayStation 4 is at its software menu screen.
- Blue: Your console is still in the process of starting up, which means you’ve either just turned it on, or have just woken it from low-powered Sleep mode.
- Orange: This light shows up when your system is in standby mode. It’s either in low-powered Sleep mode or is in the process of powering down. Keep in mind that even if you’ve put your system in Sleep, or are powering it down, you should not disconnect the power source while a light is on.
- Red: The only light on your console that can be cause for worry; red means that your PS4 is overheating, and is in the process of shutting down! If this ever occurs, make sure that you’re not blocking any of the system’s crucial fans, located at the rear of the unit.
- No Color: No lights means no power, which means that it’s safe to disconnect your console if you ever need to. By and large, you never have to turn your PS4 entirely off, if you don’t want to. Like a PC, it’s okay to leave your console in Sleep mode when you’re not using it.
These colored light indicators are just as straightforward and easy to interpret as those found on the controller itself. You can easily use them to diagnose anything that’s happening with your PS4 if you ever have concerns or questions about what it’s up to!
Helpful Tips & Tricks
Here’s one major tip for you, if you’re ever having trouble with your PS4 controllers. Did you know that you can charge them without ever plugging them into the console itself? This requires the purchase of an extra peripheral, but it can be extremely handy if you encounter controller connection errors frequently.
Try picking up a charging cradle, like this one, which can charge up to two controllers at once. Because the controllers are wireless, you can even leave them on while they’re resting in the charging cradle, meaning that you can still use them for passive, important controls in your PS4’s menu. If you’re watching Netflix, for example, you can click around on your controller when needed, then drop it back into the cradle without needing to worry about the messy tangle of extra USB cords. Additionally, since you’ll be doing less switching of connection types with your controllers, you’ll encounter connection issues less frequently!
We hope that this has been a helpful read, especially if you’re ever encountering blue, orange, or blinking white lights on your PS4 controller and don’t know what to do about it. When the flashing starts, don’t panic; just reference this brief guide, and figure out if your controller can be fixed with a brief bit of troubleshooting!