Whether you were lucky enough to snag Sony’s new PlayStation 5 on release day, fast enough to grab one when stock resurfaced, or you scored one for Christmas, the important thing is that you have one. Congrats, and welcome to the wonderful world of next-gen console gaming! We’ve collected a few tips and not-so-obvious features that will help you make the most of your new console.
Looking for accessories to kit out your new system? Check out our guides on Best Gaming Headsets, Best Wireless Gaming Headsets, and Best Gifts for PlayStation Lovers for our top picks. If you just want to know more about the PS5, here’s exactly what’s new.
Updated February 2022: We added info on expanding PS5 storage and five new tips, including how to choose notifications, customize the control center, and get game help.
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1. Learn How to Turn Off the PS5
You may scoff at this first tip. How tough can it be to turn your console off? I certainly didn’t spend 10 minutes trying to find the option … if that’s what you’re suggesting! Turns out you need to press the PlayStation button in the middle of the controller once; don’t hold it down as you would have done on the PS4. After you tap that button, a menu pops up along the bottom of the screen and you’ll see the power icon on the far right. The menu wraps around, so it’s faster to go left.
You can also press the physical power button on the hardware itself, which is at the bottom if you have it vertically or the far left if your PS5 sits horizontally on your media console.
2. Transfer Files and Games From Your PS4
If you’re upgrading from a PS4, then you might want to transfer games, settings, and other files to your new console. You’ll be prompted to do this during setup, but if you skipped it, you can go back and do it later. Before you start, it’s a good idea to have both consoles plugged in side by side and turned on with an Ethernet cable to connect them (you can use Wi-Fi, but it will take longer).
When you’re ready, go to Settings on the PS5, then System > System Software. Choose Data Transfer, Continue, and pick your PS4. When Prepare for Data Transfer pops up, you need to hold down the power button on the PS4 for a few seconds until it beeps. Pick what you want to move over and choose Start Transfer.
3. See How Long You’ve Played a Game
It’s now easier than ever to see how many hours you’ve spent playing PlayStation games. Choose your avatar at the top right on the PS5’s home screen and select Profile, then the Games tab. You’ll see total playtime next to each game with trophy progress on the right.
4. Make Sure You’re Playing the PS5 Version of a Game
While it’s great that you can play PS4 games on the PS5, it can create a bit of confusion at times. Certain older titles have been enhanced for the newer console, so you’ll want to make sure you’re playing the updated version for the best experience. Take a closer look at the game’s title on the home screen. Any PS4 version will say PS4 next to it. You can also scroll to the right and choose Game Library, then tap the Sort and Filter icon on the left and filter your games by Platform.
5. Tweak Your Controller Settings
The PS5’s DualSense controller is excellent and represents a real step up from the DualShock 4. The feel of the triggers and the range of vibrations add to the immersion, and it changes dynamically in response to the on-screen action. The default settings suit me, but if you want to reduce the vibration intensity or trigger effects, then head into Settings > Accessories > Controllers. Since you can use your old DualShock 4 controllers to play PS4 games on the PS5, there’s also an option here to reduce the brightness of their indicators.
6. Get More Immersive Sound With 3D Audio
A headline feature in the PS5 is 3D Audio, which enables game developers to tie sound effects to everything around you to enhance the illusion that you’re actually in the environment, but you need to use headphones or earbuds to take advantage. 3D Audio is turned on by default, so plug headphones into your controller and you should hear the difference immediately. But you will want to calibrate it for your ears via Settings > Sound > Audio Output. Beneath the option to Enable 3D Audio, choose Adjust 3D Audio Profile and pick the one that sounds best to you from the five levels available.
7. Play Astro’s Playroom, Then Delete It
Every PS5 comes with Astro’s Playroom installed, and it’s worth checking out. This fun 3D platformer is positively packed with PlayStation references that will give you a dose of warm and fuzzy nostalgia, but it also does a great job of showing off what the new DualSense controller is capable of. When you’re done with it, you can free up almost 11 gigabytes of storage space by finding and deleting it in Settings > Storage > Console Storage > Games and Apps. Don’t worry, you can always download it again for free from the PlayStation Store.
8. Get More Storage Space
One of the ways the PS5 improves on the PS4 is with a lightning-fast solid-state drive (SSD) for storage. The segmentation of games and a reduction in the need for duplicate data also means that game downloads are smaller, but you may still fill up the available 667 gigs quite quickly if you play lots of different games. Sony has included an internal expansion slot that allows you to add an approved M.2 SSD drive. Check out our guide on how to install internal PS5 storage. You can also plug an external SSD or HDD that supports USB 3.0 or higher into a USB port on your PS5. The catch is that you can only play PS4 games stored on that external drive.
9. Choose Your Game Presets
You can save a little time configuring games for your preferences by going to Settings > Saved Data > Game/App Settings > Game Presets. You can select your preferred game difficulty, choose between performance and graphic quality and tweak camera movement for first- and third-person options, with the ability to set inverted controls by default.
10. Save Power
Sometimes you get called away from the action and forget you’ve left your console on. To avoid wasting power or draining your controller battery, go to Settings > System > Power Saving. You can decide how long your PS5 should wait before entering Rest Mode and have your controllers turn off after a set time period with no input. On that note, when you’re done playing co-op games but your partner wants to keep gaming, or you just want to turn a controller off without shutting down the PS5, you don’t have to dig into the menus; you can just hold down the PS button for 10 seconds.
11. Capture Screenshots and Videos (or Don’t)
Sony has baked in the ability to capture screenshots and videos of gameplay, as well as the option to broadcast. All you have to do is press the Create button on the left of the controller touchpad. By default, it will take a screenshot if you press and hold it, but you can change this via Settings > Captures and Broadcasts > Captures.
One thing to note is the PS5 automatically captures video and a screenshot of every trophy award. I was surprised to find I had more than 3 gigabytes’ worth of these in the Media Gallery. To change this or turn it off, go to Settings > Captures and Broadcasts > Trophies.
12. Set Up Remote Play
You’ll likely want to set up your PS5 on the big TV in your living room, but this can cause tension when you have guests in and the kids want to play, or if someone wants to watch a movie and someone else wants to play a game at the same time. Remote Play is the solution you’re looking for. You can turn it on via Settings > System > Remote Play. This feature enables you to stream the action from the PS5 to a PS4, a PC, a Mac, or even a smartphone.
13. Guard Against Spoilers
Everyone hates spoilers, yet the PS5’s home screen and menus are awash with screenshots that could potentially reveal things about the game you’re playing. To avoid spoilers, go to Settings > Saved Data > Game/App Settings > Spoiler Warnings. You will be warned about things that have been flagged by developers as potential spoilers by default, but you can ramp that up to include everything you haven’t seen yet based on your current progress in a game (why isn’t this the default?). It only works for PS5 games.
14. Remote Control Your PS5 With the Mobile App
It’s well worth installing the revamped PlayStation App (Android or iOS) on your phone. It gives you access to your profile, allows you to chat with PlayStation Network (PSN) friends, offers the latest news, and lets you browse the PlayStation Store. Even better, you can trigger downloads and updates remotely, manage storage space, and even sign in and launch games, provided your PS5 is turned on.
15. Consider Automatic Updates and Rest Mode
To keep things up-to-date, you should make sure the system and games are set to update automatically. This should be the default behavior, but you can check in Settings > System > System Software Update and Settings. For games, go to Settings > Saved Data and Game/App Settings, and choose Automatic Updates.
When you’re done playing, consider putting the PS5 into Rest Mode instead of turning it off. You’ll find the option by pressing the PlayStation button and choosing the Power icon. When in Rest Mode, your PS5 will download updates, charge any controllers that are plugged in, and give you the option to control it remotely via the PlayStation App. You can tweak what Rest Mode does in Settings > System > Power Saving > Features Available in Rest Mode.
16. Stop Annoying Pop-Up Notifications
A pop-up telling you one of your friends just came online or that a download has finished can break your immersion in the game you’re playing or the movie you’re watching. Thankfully, it’s easy to decide when, if ever, you want pop-up notifications. Select the Settings cog at the top right of the home screen and choose Notifications. You can pick which notifications you want and decide whether they pop up over games, videos, or broadcasts.
17. Try Free Games and Trials
If buying a PS5 cleaned you out, don’t worry. There are many free titles and a free trial to keep you busy while you save up. Open the PlayStation Store at the top left on the home screen and go to the Browse tab. On the left, select the downward arrow to open the Filter options, choose Price, then tick the box that says Free.
Go to the Subscriptions tab in the PlayStation Store, and you can also get a free 14-day trial of the PS Plus service, which enables online multiplayer and comes with a few free games each month. Just be aware that it will automatically bill you at the end of the 14 days if you don’t cancel.
18. Customize Your Control Center
The Control Center pops up when you press the PS button and offers a handful of shortcuts and the power menu. But you don’t have to accept the default lineup. Press the PS button to bring up the Control Center and then tap the Options buttons, and you can press X to select any icon and use the D-pad to move it right or left or press down to hide it from the Control Center altogether.
19. How to Fix Audio for Blu-rays and DVDs
The first time we settled down to watch a 4K Blu-ray on the PS5, I spent half an hour trying to sort the audio because parts of the surround sound were missing in action. But the audio settings for Blu-rays and DVDs are not in the regular PS5 system settings. The disc player has its own audio output settings; to find them, you must insert the disc and hit the Options button on your DualSense controller or Media Remote. A menu will pop up at the bottom of the screen, and you should select the three dots icon, then Settings > Audio Format, and change it to Bitstream.
20. Get Game Help When You Are Stuck
Everyone gets stuck in games from time to time. While it’s easy to find text and video walk-throughs online, identifying the specific hint you need can prove tricky, and there’s a distinct danger of spoilers. For PS Plus subscribers, some PS5 games have a built-in feature called Game Help that can guide you through the task that has you flummoxed. Press the PS button to open the Control Center, and you should see a row of cards. Pick the activity card that shows the level you are stuck on, and you’ll see hints for the missions you are on, with text and screenshots describing what you must do and a video showing you how to complete the objective. To make things easier, you can pin the tip to your screen and refer to it as you play.
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