When it comes to game controllers, many computer games offer limited or poor support compared to using the keyboard. Thankfully, you can get around this limitation by mapping your controller buttons to keyboard key presses. Joy2Key is one such tool that helps you do that.
There are several alternatives to Joy2Key such as Pinnacle Game Profiler, AntiMicroX, InputMapper among others. However the best Joy2Key alternative is Xpadder which guarantees an exceptional playing experience. Moreover, it is lightweight and compatible with most devices.
Why explore Joy2Key alternatives?
If you’ve been using Joy2Key, you’ve probably been stuck on the Windows operating system that it runs on. Not only that, but Joy2Key also has some difficulties with some keystroke configurations especially on modern Windows versions.
We’ve rounded up some free and commercial Joy2Key alternatives that you can use with all major operating systems and that do their job just as well or better than Joy2Key.
Take a look.
Best Joy2Key Alternatives
Xpadder is one of the best controller mapper software that allows you to map keyboard keys and use mouse button actions. The software can handle sequences, triggers, combinations, toggles, shift sets, and multiple controllers.
Like Joy2Key, Xpadder also works with Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10, making it a great game emulator for playing PC games with a better experience. Xpadder is also compatible with more than 98 percent of PC, tablet, mobile, or laptop games.
If your joystick isn’t working, you can use Xpadder and simulate keypresses and mouse click combinations and movements using a gamepad to play your favorite games without any issues. The emulator also lets you assign specific macros and keystrokes to your Xbox 360, thus improving gaming accessibility.
Perhaps what makes Xpadder stand out as the best Joy2Key alternative is that you can play games with or without joystick support, control music/video players, apps, and web browsers. Joy2Key has strict limitations with the combo sequence number, so you may need an alternative if you want to make a bigger combo.
Plus, Xpadder is lightweight, enables you to create specific layouts for specific games, and gives you control over games without native support for gamepads.
However, the program is buy-only at $9.99, which is about $2 more than Joy2Key, but you get value for money because a single payment includes all future Xpadder versions. A freeware version is available online with valuable tools that you can use to take full control over games that lack built-in gamepad support.
Pinnacle Game Profiler is an equally good Joy2Key alternative as it works with Windows 7/8/10 like Joy2Key does.
The software is spectacular with organizing games by .exe files and then launches them straight from your game application. Plus, Pinnacle Game Profiler offers full keyboard layout and ready presets for different games.
However, it’s not as good as Joy2Key with mouse emulation. With Joy2Key, you can change profiles using a combination or by clicking a specific button.
It also gives you plenty of mapping opportunities including mapping a key, key combo, mouse move or absolute position movement, auto-repeat or toggle.
Plus, Pinnacle Game Profiler doesn’t let you apply one configuration to another controller and it has lots of dialog windows, which can be annoying.
Perceptibly, this software lacks hardware mapping, changing configuration while your game is open, assigning multiple .exe files to one profile, and triggering dead zones.
What you might like about Pinnacle Game Profiler is that it has a large configuration base that’s ready to use, and a full keyboard layout mapped to sticks. You also get to launch the application or game from the controller mapper menu, which is really cool.
Pinnacle Game Profiler costs the same as Joy2Key and offers a fully functional trial.
Unlike Joy2Key, which is designed for use with Windows operating systems, AntiMicroX is a graphical user interface tool built for use with Linux.
AntiMicroX can map your gamepad with your mouse, keyboard, or custom scripts or macros in Linux. This makes things easier for you to control any desktop app with your gamepad, and play games with poor or no form of built-in gamepad support.
The software is a new fork of the previous AntiMicro, which was discontinued. You can control any desktop app with a gamepad on Linux, meaning you need to run an X environment for AntiMicroX to work properly.
You can map joystick buttons or gamepads to keyboard and mouse buttons, scripts and apps, and macros consisting of such elements. You also get auto profile support, gamepad calibration, and you can tweak the gamepad poll rate if you want.
InputMapper is a free utility that started out as a DS4 (dual-shocker) tool, became DS4Windows, and was renamed to InputMapper.
The software works with Windows 7/8/10, Xbox and PS4 controllers to bridge the gap between your devices and games.
It’s particularly good with LED light tuning, hardware macros, touchpad settings, and a friendly interface.
Unlike Joy2Key, InputMapper comes free with ads. Initially, you’d need to donate an optional $2 to get the ads removed, but since the migration period, the tool is now ad free regardless of donation.
Unlike Joy2Key, the macro editor in this tool is a bit complicated, but it has lots of specific features that other controller mapper software don’t have. This is because it was initially designed to remap the DS4 controller.
Plus, it features a decent interface, well-organized tabs, and you can find everything clearly when you need it.
With all these though, InputMapper seems to be buggier than its original DS4Windows, which some users believe worked better.
You can also use InputMapper to test several devices and find the one that works best for the games you play. This way, you can easily input the software to play any PC game with your favorite device.
InputMapper requires you to create an account in order to use it. Once you install it, you can track all your devices from one platform, add/remove controllers, create a profile for all devices, and transform input options.
The software offers better compatibility and support compared to Joy2Key and other similar tools. It also doesn’t come with malware or virus, so it won’t damage your PC.
If you want deeper features or you’re not using a DS4 controller, you may want to try a different tool on this list.
Input Mapper is free to use compared to Joy2Key, which costs $7. Plus, you get compatibility for a wide range of devices and various customization features you can use to personalize your gaming experience.
If you’re a fan of flash games, photo editing, first person shooters, and media players, the Joystick Mapper application is worth considering.
Joystick Mapper is a macOS utility that lets you configure your gamepads and joysticks, as well as map your mouse and keyboard functionality to game controllers. This way, you can simulate mouse movement, clicks, scrolls and keyboard keys, and control even those apps or games that lack native support.
Unlike Joy2Key, which works for Windows, Joystick Mapper is designed for Mac OS X so you can play any app or game with any Mac-compatible gamepad or joystick.
The software works well with gamepads such as Logitech, Xbox, PS3/4, Nintendo, and Steelseries.
Like Joy2Key, this application has an easy to use interface, and is compatible with Bluetooth and USB joysticks. It also offers smooth mouse movements, and you can map any of the four directions from an analog stick independently.
Joystick Mapper costs just $4.99, making it more affordable than Joy2Key.
Rich functionality is one of the top factors to consider when picking out the best controller mapping software.
You’ll get that with reWASD, which comes with pro features especially for gamers looking for more from their gaming devices including Xbox One, Nintendo, and DualShock.
The software works with all Xbox controller official versions including the Elite and Elite paddles, Nintendo Switch Pro, DualShock ¾, and a few third-party controllers.
Some of the benefits you’ll get by mapping your keyboard, mouse, or joystick using reWASD include playing any PC with a gamepad, and add over 1000 different mappings to your controller.
Plus, you can turn any controller, mouse, or keyboard into Xbox 360 or DS4 controller and tune the layouts to your liking.
You can also revive Elite and Elite 2 paddles using Xbox Accessories app to duplicate button mappings. reWASD goes further to assign any controller, mouse, and keyboard keys to paddles.
With reWASD, you don’t have to go looking for a perfect joystick mapper preset. You can select a game configuration from hundreds of joystick presets.
reWASD starts from $6, which offers an ad-free experience and a fully functional trial. The basic license lets you map joystick to keyboard mouse buttons and keys, assign different actions to presses, create shortcuts out of keyboard, gamepad, or mouse buttons.
DS4 Windows is a free, portable program that syncs handheld controllers to the Windows operating system.
You can get the best experience using DS4 on your computer and if you want more games, you can use DS4 Windows to emulate an Xbox 360 controller.
The app, developed by Jays2Kings, allows you to link your PS4 console controller with your computer through wireless or wired Bluetooth connections. The app is also available in English, Hebrew, Italian, French, Greek, Japanese, and other languages.
DS4 Windows offers a simple and clean user interface, and tons of options for mapping your controllers to macros, touchpad sensitivity, rainbow lightbar to your favorite color, special actions triggered by pressing multiple actions, and motion controls. You can also launch programs with profiles and play with plenty of other settings.
With its profile system, you can make it easier to swap through different controller settings, and set up controls for certain games.
You can also manually and automatically switch controllers to different profiles when you launch a certain program.
DS4 Windows offers consistent updates despite being free and limited compared to Joy2Key. If you use the DS4 updater, it’s easy to update the program, and get more information about the updates from their official website.
The app is lightweight, has a clean user interface, practical and aesthetic customizations, and can manipulate your PC to consider the Xbox joystick and PS4 controller. However, it’s not cross platform, has an initially steep learning curve, and contains input lag issues.
ControllerMate is a Mac OS X application and controller programming tool that allows you to add custom functionality to joysticks, keyboards, gamepads, trackballs, and more. You can customize these devices with your computer and create various automated processes to streamline tasks.
The app is designed for use with Mac computers, unlike Joy2Keys, which works for Windows PCs. The ControllerMate building blocks architecture has more than 70 blocks, which are triggered by device controls or MIDI messages controls.
Each of these blocks carry out small tasks, but can still be combined to perform complex tasks. These blocks allow you the exceptional freedom in terms of what you can create and what kinds of inputs will trigger the actions.
For instance, you can create a programming action like a single keyboard key triggered by generic buttons. Alternatively, you can create a complex combination of logic and timing triggered by a combo of controls.
The app was a background-only platform initially for using gaming devices to control flight simulators.
Today, ControllerMate comes in custom variants and is compatible with various devices and used in a wide range of applications including music production, video/audio editing, gaming and flight simulation when possible.
You can configure drivers to change the default behavior of a mouse or keyboard that uses the ControllerMate driver. This way, you can turn a button off completely or allow one button on a keyboard to act like another.
The app also lets you create a virtual tablet, mouse, or joystick, which you can control via programming, and these virtual devices will be viewed by other apps as though they were physical devices.
ControllerMate is compatible with multiple devices and offers a risk-free trial with no time limit. You can use it without registration but you get up to 10 building blocks that generate output.
Plus, you get lots of options to create advanced shortcuts and a Kill feature that turns off the Master Enable at the touch of a button so you don’t have to deal with side effects of the function you’ve executed.
The main downsides with ControllerMate are that it’s not for beginners. Unlike Joy2Key, whose user interface is easy to use, ControllerMate has a three-window interface whose use is rather technical and unintuitive.
QJoyPad is a program that allows you to use your gaming devices wherever you want in your games. It’s a Joy2Key alternative for Linux users seeking a Linux-compatible program to play all their games even if they don’t have joystick support with their joysticks.
The application takes input from a joystick and gamepad, translates it into the mouse or keystrokes, and lets you use your game controller to control any XWindows program.
With QJoyPad, you benefit from multiple saved layouts so you can customize settings for every game and play them the way you want, not the way they’ve been programmed to work. The app offers flexibility and freedom to leverage gaming devices in Linux, making the gaming experience more pleasant for you.
Some of the features you’ll find in QJoyPad include incorporating your gaming devices into XWindows programs, moving and clicking the mouse with your joystick, and auto-detecting the number of joysticks.
QJoyPad also supports devices with more than two axes, saving layouts and switching between them quickly, and adjusts the sensitivity of every axis independently.
You can also set or reset all the keys at once in a flash, and make a button sticky if you don’t want to hold it down every time.
The main difference between Joy2Key and QJoyPad is in the operating systems the two applications use – Windows and Linux respectively.
With QJoyPad, you need a gaming device that’s supported by the Linux kernel, otherwise it won’t work. Plus, you have to load the proper drivers for it to work.
Enjoyable is another Mac OS X application that lets you use your joystick and gamepad like a keyboard or mouse.
The app lets you bind and configure gamepad buttons, and makes for a great alternative to other Joy2Key Mac alternatives on this list.
The application is simpler than Joy2Key and easy to use, but you require Mac OS X 10.7 or later and at least one HID-compatible input device whether USB (wired) or Bluetooth (wireless).
The software is free to use and based on the Enjoy codebase. Plus, it supports switching profiles, multiple profiles, and moving the mouse.
While you may find your joystick somewhat glitchy as you map it, it may switch between different axes, but will still work fine with some few tweaks.
Joy2Key is fairly good, functional, and has lots of hidden treasures. While its interface is a bit weird, the gamepad or controller mapper offers lots of opportunities concerning mappings.
The main downside of Joy2Key is its strict limitations with the combo sequence number, but you can substitute it with these 10 alternatives and find one that suits all your needs.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.