PS4 tips and tricks 2018: Make the most of your PS4

The best PS4 tips and tricks to squeeze the most out of your console

The PS4 and PS4 Pro are the two best-selling gaming consoles on the market right now – although the Nintendo Switch is quickly gaining ground. It's beaten back the Wii U, and Microsoft's various Xbox One consoles just can't compete with Sony's PlayStation sales numbers. Just one look at the best PS4 games list shows how rich and diverse the PS4's lineup is, and even its seemingly forgotten cousin, the PlayStation VR, has an excellent games catalogue.

As well as incredible games like God of War, Marvel's Spider-Man and many fantastic PlayStation VR titles, Sony's PS4 has other software trumps up its sleeve, namely ones baked right into the PS4's own firmware. While small in number, Sony has equipped the PS4 with a range of extremely useful features anyone can tap into. When it comes to really making the most of your PS4, these are the tips and tricks you really need to know about.

This list doesn't even include all the fantastic tricks of the PS4 that you should know about, like the ability to listen to Spotify while gaming or apps like Netflix and iPlayer that turn your PS4 into an all-in-one entertainment system.

The best PS4 tips and tricks

1. Headphone support, no matter what headphones you use

Playing your PS4 at night and don't want to disturb others? Aside from forking out on an expensive PS4-compatible gaming headset, you can plug in any pair of headphones you like – or even use the mono chat earphone that came with the PS4. At the bottom of the DualShock 4, between the two grips, you'll find a 3.5mm headphone port you can use.

By default it only delivers chat audio so to make it output all game sound you need to delve into the PS4's menus. You can either head to the Settings panel and tweak it via the accessories tab or, if you don't want to exit your game, just hold down the PS button and hit Adjust Devices | Output To Headphones | All Audio.

2. Become a social media maven

Sony included a "Share" button on the PS4's DualShock 4 as standard. At the time many wondered why such a thing existed, after all, who cares that much about taking a screenshot. How wrong we all were, the world loves screenshots and stupid videos and the "Share" button has facilitated all of that.

If you're already a regular "Share" user but hate the fact it continually likes to interrupt your game to ferry you out into a screenshot or video upload management tool screen, you can actually turn that function off relatively easily. Dive into the Settings menu and rummage around for Share settings and you'll be able to adjust exactly how the button works. You can set it to simply carry on after you've taken a screenshot with a quick press or start a video recording after you hold it down for about three to five seconds. Still want to upload your image right away? No worries, hit the share button and then press and hold it immediately afterwards and all will be well.

3. Message your mates on the go

Replying to PSN messages on your PS4 can be a total drag, especially if you're part of a Party or Community who likes to chat regularly. Thankfully Sony has created an entirely new PlayStation Messenger app for iOS and Android allowing you to respond to all messages without needing to exit your game, nor use the DualShock 4's awful screen-based keyboard. Messaging has never been simpler.

You know how it goes. After getting a PSN message from your friend, it takes you about 5 minutes to put together a reply – and by then no one cares. However, there is another way to do things; using your smartphone. If you download the PS4 app to your iPhone or Android device and pair it to your PS4 via Wi-Fi, you can use it as a second input device. The result? Messaging actually works.

4. Expand your storage space with external drives

Want more storage space but don't fancy the idea of removing the PS4's internal drive to switch it over for a higher-capacity one? Worry not as, with PlayStation Firmware 4.5, Sony now allows for external HDD or SSDs to be connected to the USB ports of a PS4 and act like an internal drive. It's a very similar storage method to the Xbox One's external drive support, and you won't have to worry about re-installing all your games or the base firmware like you do when you switch over the internal drives in a PS4.

5. Back up your game saves to USB

PS Plus users have been able to upload and save their games directly into the cloud since the service launched on PS3. This is still the case with PS4 but, for those who don't have PS Plus and thus the possibility of cloud backups, Sony's USB copy functionality is a godsend.

To save your games to a USB drive all you need to do is pop it into one of your PS4's USB slots and head to "Application saved data management" in "Settings" and then select Saved Data System Storage | Copy Data To USB Storage. This method won't let you load saves directly from the USB stick, but it is a helpful backup you can copy from if your PS4 goes wrong at any point.

6. You can remap every button on the DualShock 4

Come over from the Nintendo Switch or Wii U to the PS4 and find it hard to always hit the correct buttons – why is "X" accept when it's "O" in the East? Whatever the reason is, Sony allows you to reassign every single one of the DualShock 4's buttons so you can set your pad up exactly how you like. Some games will even switch their button prompts to your newly assigned layout. So, if it's just you having a hard time remembering which button is which, or there's a more major reason for you to want to switch buttons around, the PlayStation 4 lets you.

7. Powerful parental management controls

Added as a feature in firmware update 5.5, Sony now gives parents powerful management of their children's accounts and insights into just what they've been up to.

Under the Parental Controls | Family Management selection in the Settings menu, you can now view your child's total play time for the day. You can also limit how long your child plays for, set out-of-bounds hours to lock their account at certain times of the day. You can even set the PlayStation up to automatically log your child out of their account and shut the PlayStation down once they exceed their allowances.

Using the PlayStation mobile app, you can adjust their play time counters and hours on-the-fly, meaning they won't be restricted over the summer holidays or if they get their schoolwork done sooner than expected. Very nice.

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