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The PS5 DualSense Wireless controller is a pretty nifty controller with one, glaring flaw. The battery life is absolutely abysmal. So, when you’re not playing with it plugged into your PS5, what happens when the thing just won’t work except when you’re in the main menu?
In these less than the best of circumstances, you have a few options. You can make sure the PS5 controller is updated, make sure the console is updated, resync the controller, reset it, and turn off the Bluetooth while you connect via the USB cable.
Fortunately, it’s not a common malfunction in PS5 controllers, with the poor battery still being the most common complaint about it. If none of the above-listed items do the trick, however, you may have to opt for rebuilding the database—a slow process that should be your last choice.
Table of Contents
5 Fixes to PS5 Controller Works In Menu But Not In-Game
1. Reset the Controller
Sometimes, it’s best to just start with the basics and there’s nothing more basic than a good reset. The reset mechanism on the PS5 controller is tiny but not difficult to find once you know where it is.
Flip the controller over so the back is facing you and locate the Sony logo that’s pretty much directly centered. Just to the right, you’ll find a tiny little hole.
You’ll need a little clothespin or a bobby pin. If you choose a bobby pin, remember, it’s really sharp so don’t go jamming it as hard as you can.
All you need to do is press the hidden button within and hold it for five seconds. You’ll feel the button depress with a kind-of click. Once you release the button, don’t bother trying to turn it on. First, plug it back into the PS5 via the USB cable.
Now, turn the controller back on like you normally do. It will automatically connect to the PS5 without you needing to do anything additional.
If you use a bobby pin the first time, try to avoid using it again if you ever have to do another reset. That sharp need will eventually perforate the soft button beneath.
2. Just Turn Off the Controller and Connect to the USB
This is a little simpler. All you need to do is turn off the controller and, without turning it back on, plug it into the PS5. This is sort of like a standard reset, whereas the action above would be the equivalent of a factory reset.
The only difference is, you need to go into the system and turn off the Bluetooth.
Since the PS5 controller is working with the Menu and not in the games, this is something you should be able to do without a problem.
- Go to the ‘Settings’ menu
- Select ‘Accessories’
- Select ‘General’
- Select ‘Turn Off Bluetooth’
This option turns off Bluetooth in general, rather than just a specific device. Plug your controller back in through the USB cable and try playing for a while, without accessing the system via Bluetooth.
After you’re through gaming, go ahead and try connecting it via Bluetooth again by jumping back into Settings, the same way you did before, and turning Bluetooth back on.
3. Update the PS5 Console
Like we say in a lot of these troubleshooting articles, setting up the automated update feature is fantastic until it isn’t. You’ll have to go in occasionally and check to make sure the machine is indeed updating like it’s supposed to.
If you’re a few firmware updates behind, issues like a faulty controller might be the least of your problems.
If you’ve ever owned a smart device of any kind for any period of time, you probably know how important it is to keep it updated. Unless, of course, it’s jailbroken. But that’s a conversation for another day.
- On the top, right-hand corner of the Home Screen, there’s a gear icon
- Select the Gear Icon (Settings)
- Scroll down to and select ‘System’
- Select ‘Software Update and Settings’
- Select ‘Update System Storage’
- Select ‘Update Using Internet’
- On the next screen, select ‘Update’
- When the update is complete (the console will restart) select ‘Okay’
While you can turn the Automatic Update feature on, as mentioned above, it’s always hit or miss with these things.
So, give it a check every now and then to ensure that it’s updating properly. Sony doesn’t release updates constantly, so it’s not like you’ll have to do it every day.
4. Update the Controller
Controllers have come a long way. They aren’t simplistic devices anymore. Nowadays, they need updates just like a smartphone or the PS5 itself needs updates. Updating the controller is relatively simple, so long as you can do it on the PS5 console. You can also update the controller using a PC, so we’ll cover both.
Playstation 5 Version
- Plug the controller in via the USB cable
- Go to the Settings menu
- Select ‘Accessories’
- Select ‘Controllers’
- Select ‘Wireless Controller Device Software
- If the update pops up because one is available, select it
- Wait for the update to complete
- First, download the firmware onto your PC from here
- Connect the PS5 controller to the PC via the USB
- Follow the instructions once you open the newly installed file
- The rest is automatic
- Don’t unplug the controller while the update is in process
Even if the PS5 and the PS5 controller aren’t seeing eye to eye, there’s always the PC option, which is actually a little quicker than the PS5 method, even if you have a relatively slow computer.
5. Rebuild the PS5 Database
This happens from time to time and if you’ve ever had a really old PS3 or PS4 (like, on its last legs old), you’ve probably done something similar before.
If nothing else has worked up until this point, the issue is probably with the console and there’s little choice left.
Fortunately, rebuilding the PS5 database is pretty simple and straightforward. Plus, having a PSN account means any purchased digital games, DLC content, and anything else you’ve purchased on the PlayStation Store will still be waiting on you when the system is back up and running.
- Press and hold the PS5 ‘On’ button until the second beep comes along
- Grab your USB cable and connect the controller
- Press the center, PS button like you would to turn on the controller
- Once the screen pops up, select option 5 (Clear Cache)
- Select ‘Rebuild Database’
The good news is, it won’t take as long as the old PS4 and PS5 did for the same job. You’ll know that it’s done, however, when the system completely shuts down and restarts. From there, go ahead and press the center button to make sure the controller connects to the system again.
Feel free to unplug the controller and see if everything is working fine and mission accomplished or not. Since this is one of those worst-case scenarios, it’s the best available option when all else is lost.
Hopefully, that will get things back on track and in good working order. Of course, good working order with a PS5 controller means recharging it not long after you take it off the USB cable. But, we can’t all have our cake and eat it too.
Look on the bright side, at least you’re back to playing wirelessly instead of messing around in a Menu you can’t get out of.