Turn Your Wii Remote Into a Mac Gamepad With WJoy

I love to see new games move to the Mac, but I’m primarily a console gamer. The difference for me is the console controller, and while I could invest in a Mac gaming controller, there’s some cost involved there, and, well, I already have my consoles for games like that.

That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes want a game controller for my Mac, but I can’t exactly plug my DualShock 3 into my USB port. My hopes haven’t been far off, though, because WJoy is a tiny app that will connect your Wii Remote and Mac, allowing you to use it as a controller for Mac games. We’ll see if it works as advertised.

Let’s Connect

When you open WJoy, you’ll see a Wii Remote icon appear in your menu bar. You’ll want to have your Wii Remote ready to go, or WJoy’s not going to be much good. Click on the WJoy menu bar icon, and select Begin Discovery–which is misspelled in the menu, but we take what we can get. A notification should appear to let you know WJoy is looking for your Wii Remote.

WJoy will start looking for your Wii Remote.

WJoy will start looking for your Wii Remote.

Grab your Wii Remote, and locate the 1 and 2 buttons. Your Wii Remote doesn’t have to be on yet, and it will only really stay on if it can connect to a device anyway, so ignore the power button for now. Press the 1 and 2 buttons at the same time and release them. All four player lights will start blinking.

After a connection has been made, the player 1 light will glow solid blue. You’ll get a notification from WJoy that a new Wii Remote has been connected, and you’ll even get a reassuring little smiley face to let you know all is well.

The Wii Remote is connected.

The Wii Remote is connected.

When you’re ready to disconnect your Wii Remote from your Mac, press and hold the Wii Remote power button until the blue player 1 light goes out. WJoy will also let you know via a notification that a Wii Remote has been disconnected. You’ll get a sad face out it, too, just to let you know you’ve hurt its feelings.

A Bit of Troubleshooting

If WJoy doesn’t won’t connect to your Wii Remote out of the box, check that your Bluetooth settings in System Preferences are good to go. Your Wii Remote is essentially just another Bluetooth device, and that’s how WJoy connects your Wii Remote to your Mac. That means that Bluetooth needs to be turned on in System Preferences and your Mac needs to be discoverable. When your Wii Remote is properly connected, you’ll see it listed among your Bluetooth devices.

If you don't turn on Bluetooth, you'll the the Begin Discovery notification, but nothing will happen.

If you don’t turn on Bluetooth, you’ll the the Begin Discovery notification, but nothing will happen.

Once your Mac has found your Wii Remote with WJoy, click the WJoy menu bar icon to get just a little bit of information. WJoy will tell you your Wii Remote’s Bluetooth Device Address, which could be useful and is handy to have right in the menu bar, at least. More importantly, though, you’ll get to take a look at how much power your Wii Remote has left. This is a pretty great feature, as I tend to push my controller batteries until they’re completely dry. WJoy lets me know exactly when I’m absolutely going to have to give in and change them.

You can get a bit of info about your remote, including battery life.

You can get a bit of info about your remote, including battery life.

Mapping Your Controller

WJoy should get your Wii Remote to work with just about any game that supports a joystick or gamepad. The newest version even brings limited support for nunchucks and other accessories, like the Nintendo classic controller. Compatibility is spotty, though, so you’ll want to be aware of that when connecting and setting up your Wii Remote.

As with any game that supports a controller, you’ll need to set up, or map, your controls inside the game. This is standard for most games, and even console games with native controllers will display the button mapping and often allow you to remap some or all controls. You’ll want to do this with your Wii Remote, as well, even if everything seems to work on its own.

If you have a harder time getting your game to accept the Wii Remote’s input, first check that you’re still paired via WJoy. If everything is all good, you can try a companion app, Enjoy, that will map all of your Wii Remote’s buttons outside of the game for you. With Enjoy you can create separate button map profiles for each game, so you won’t have to constantly remap your Wii Remote every time you switch between games.

Final Thoughts

WJoy is probably not going to replace a controller for a serious gamer. It’s not nearly as compatible as a controller made to work with the Mac, and the Wii Remote just doesn’t have enough buttons to make it a serious contender as a non-Nintendo controller.

That said, it’s great for Nintendo games and other classic ROMs. There are a bunch of indie games that will work really well with the Wii Remote as the primary controller, too. If you’re not looking to invest in a gaming controller or just want a more authentic Nintendo feel for your ROMs, WJoy paired with a Wii Remote is a great option.


A neat app for pairing your Wii Remote with your Mac over Bluetooth. While it doesn't work out of the box with every game, if you put in some effort, you can get great results.