22 Things You Never Knew Your PS5 Could Do

The PlayStation 5 is undoubtedly a step up from its predecessor, the PS4, both in terms of graphics and computing power. However, aside from the obvious technical generational upgrades, there are some lesser-known capabilities of the PlayStation 5 that help it feel like a truly next-gen console. 

Among its many semi-secret capabilities include multiple ways to expand the console's base storage space, innovative new ways to interact with its advanced audio capabilities, and even a method to make use of your old PS4 controllers. These options have only expanded as the console has aged, and now Sony has enabled advanced features such as streaming gameplay directly from your console to other devices and full integration with third-party apps. 

From managing your game library from your smartphone to switching out the in-game music with your favorite Spotify playlist — here are the best things that you never knew your PlayStation 5 could do.

PS5 has multiple expandable storage options

The PlayStation 5 comes with a really impressive SSD, and it's a game-changer if you're used to slow console hard drives and long loading times. There's just one problem with that SSD: it isn't very big. With a total capacity of 825GB, we aren't starting off very strong, but even then, only 667GB of that is actually usable. With the size of modern games, that's bound to fill up fast, especially as more games made specifically for PS5 start being released.

Thankfully, there are a couple of ways you can solve this problem. For starters, the PlayStation 5 has an expansion M.2 slot that you can use to add another NVMe SSD to your console. The process of adding an M.2 SSD is reasonably straightforward, but you'll want to be aware of the drive requirements Sony lists on the PlayStation support site before you purchase an SSD. If you have the budget for it, adding an M.2 SSD can significantly expand your console's speedy storage.

If you have a large library of digital PS4 games, it's much more cost-effective to buy an external HDD or SSD and install those titles there. While you can store PS5 games on an external drive, you can't boot them from it, but you can with PS4 games. This makes external storage an economical choice for those who have a lot of PS4 games they want to bring forward into the new generation.

Your PS5 can be cleaned relatively easily

If you just received a brand new PS5, you probably won't need to do this yet, but it's a good thing to note for the future. One major concern with modern consoles has always been dust accumulation inside them. Unfortunately, it hasn't always been easy to crack open a console and give it a proper cleaning, but with the PS5, that process has been simplified.

This was one of the earliest features we learned about, as it was included in the PlayStation 5 teardown Sony published before launch. To clean the dust out of your PS5, all you need to do is remove the side plates and vacuum out the dust from two dust catchers built into the console. Remember: heat is the enemy of efficiency, and too much dust makes it hard for the PS5's cooling fans and heatsinks to do their jobs. Vacuum out those dust catchers once or twice a year to keep your console running cool and fast.

Your PS5 improves some PS4 games through Game Boost

The PlayStation 5 can play most of the PS4 library through backward compatibility. Most of those titles will run as they did on PlayStation 4 with some minor improvements (especially to loading times if they're installed on the PS5's SSD), but some benefit from larger improvements through a feature called Game Boost.

Game Boost allows these PS4 titles to run at higher frame rates and even higher resolutions when played on PS5. It seems it's up to developers to implement these performance patches themselves, so as it stands, many of Sony's first-party titles tap into the benefits of Game Boost already. Games like "God of War," "Ghost of Tsushima," "Ratchet & Clank," "Horizon Zero Dawn," and "The Last of Us Part 2" support Game Boost, so if you have any of those games, it might be worth installing their respective updates and seeing how they run on PS5.

PS5's Control Center can get you out of a jam

There's no doubt that games have become more complex as we've moved through various hardware generations. Eventually, you're going to get stuck trying to complete a challenge or find a hidden item, and when that happens, most of us turn to the internet. Whether through social media like Reddit or through detailed Wikis that reveal everything there is to know about a game, the internet is filled with tips and tricks for pretty much every title imaginable.

With the PlayStation 5, you don't necessarily need to put the game down to get help with a challenging spot. If you're a PlayStation Plus subscriber and the game you're playing supports it, you can open the Control Center by pressing the PS button on your controller and get help for tricky sections or when hunting down collectibles, straight from the developers.

The process is outlined in the video above, but keep in mind that not every game will support this feature. Ultimately, it's up to the developers to implement it, and while it's a safe assumption that Sony will make its studios integrate the feature in their first-party games, support may be spotty among games created by third-party developers.

Your PS5 has single-player Activities and speedrun leaderboards

The PS5's Control Center does more beyond giving you tips for difficult spots. Open the Control Center in a single-player game and you may also see a series of Activity cards. These cards can take you to activities or side-quests that you haven't completed or show progress toward trophies that you have yet to earn. The cards can also give you time-to-complete estimates for the Activities based on your gameplay habits.

If you find yourself stuck in a single-player game and don't know what you should do to move forward, checking the Control Center for Activities could be a good idea (assuming that the game you're playing supports Activities, of course). Some multiplayer games will also show Activities, especially if you have friends who play those games, but again, that depends on whether or not developers implement them. For the completionists among us, Activities could be a good way of leaving no stone unturned.

The Control Center will also show Challenges in games that support them. Challenges can pit you and your friends against each other, even in single-player games. Perhaps the most obvious application for Challenges is speedrunning individual segments in games, as outlined by the video embedded above. The Control Center will show friends and global leaderboards, too, so you can see how your times and scores stack up to your friends and the global audience for the game in question.

PS5 has screen sharing with friends, even in-game

With more powerful hardware comes more social features, and this one is pretty neat. PlayStation 5 allows you to share your screen with friends and people in your party, allowing them to watch as you play. While that's not super impressive tech – an entire industry has sprouted up around game streaming, after all – it becomes a lot cooler when you realize you can stream a friend's gameplay as you play via picture-in-picture support.

This can be particularly handy when you're playing a multiplayer game with friends, as it'll allow you to essentially see the battle or match from two different angles. Your friend's gameplay can be overlaid on your own game through PS5's picture-in-picture feature, or you can snap their stream to the side so it doesn't obscure your gameplay.

PS5 lets you play with friends across generations

This last feature may not come as much of a surprise given the current focus on cross-platform and cross-generation play, but you can still play with your friends who are still on PS4. Given that not everyone has upgraded to a PS5 this is good news because it means that those who have made the switch to a PS5 don't have to ditch their friends who are still gaming on a PS4.

Since your friend list makes the jump between generations, playing with friends on PS4 is as easy as sending them an invite and joining a party. Obviously, the multiplayer game you're playing needs to support cross-generation play, so developers need to implement this functionality. Still, the hope is that most developers turn on cross-gen play, especially since PS5 consoles were in short supply for more than a year at one point.

Chat with your DualSense controller's microphone

Communication is the key to success in multiplayer games, and it's much easier to talk with allies than it is to type with them — especially when you're playing on a console that doesn't typically include a keyboard. The PlayStation 5 has plenty of games best played with friends and includes a dinky little earbud for just such an occasion. However, the earbud doesn't come with a microphone, so while you can hear your friends talk, how are you going to talk back? With the controller.

The PS5's DualSense comes with a built-in speaker and microphone, and while the speaker gets more use, the microphone is great for chatting with friends in multiplayer. To set it up, press the PS button, scroll over to the microphone icon, and set the microphone to Wireless Controller. You might have to adjust the microphone level a bit, but once that is fixed, you can speak normally.

Admittedly, a dedicated gaming headset with a microphone will probably provide better audio clarity, but if you don't feel like spending anywhere between $50 to $250 on one, the DualSense will get you through most games.

Stream games to your phone or PC

As the largest platform in the current console generation, the PlayStation 5 is far from portable, which is a shame since many of its best games require significant time investments. However, while you can't take your PS5 on the go, you can still bring its game library along for the ride.

The PS Remote Play app lets you stream games directly from your console onto supported devices. You have to set up your PS5 beforehand to accept remote play, and you need a strong internet connection and a modern PlayStation controller to use the program. Plus, your PS5 must either be on or in sleep mode — if your console is off, you cannot remotely access it. If you can fulfill these criteria, you can play your PS5 games anywhere, be it in another room while someone else uses the TV or halfway across the globe on vacation.

Since the PS Remote Play app relies on streaming technology, some lag and input delay is to be expected. The weaker the internet signal, the worse the lag and delay. While this isn't ideal for games that rely on fast reflexes, such as "Elden Ring" and "Returnal," turn-based titles like "Persona 5 Royal" and "The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel" are more or less unaffected.

Play Spotify and Apple Music while playing games

Music is a great way to take the edge off and help you focus while working. Something nice and non-distracting in the background can make all the difference, and if you work at home, you likely have no shortage of devices to play music on. What if you want some accompanying music while gaming and don't like the provided soundtrack? The PlayStation 5 gives you options.

Programs such as Spotify and Apple Music are readily available on the PS5. Just download the apps, pick your preferred soundtrack or podcast, and start streaming music in the background while playing games. Just visit the PS5's control center, select Music, pick the program and soundtrack you want, and the music or podcast will play without disrupting gameplay. If you want to switch soundtracks, double-tap the PS button to cycle between the game and your preferred music app.

While you will need a Spotify or Apple Music account to use these apps, you at least don't need a separate music player. Just don't stream on Twitch while playing any songs, lest your video be claimed for copyright infringement or any of the other problems plaguing content creators these days.

Play with a DualShock 4

Currently, Xbox Series X/S is winning the backward compatibility war. Players can use their old Xbox One games and even their Xbox One controllers with the console. PlayStation 5 owners can run their old PlayStation 4 games on the PS5, but unless they still have a PS4 console, their DualShock 4 controllers will be collecting dust. Unless you know the controllers' secrets, that is.

Under normal circumstances, a DualShock 4 will not work with a PS5 since the controller is incompatible with PS5 games. However, the devil is in the details. The DualShock 4 is incompatible with PS5 games, not PS4 games running on a PS5. However, if you purchased the PS4 version of a game and upgrade it to a PS5 rendition, the DualShock 4 controller will no longer be compatible. Or will it?

Earlier, we explained how to play PS5 games remotely using PS Remote Play. It turns out the app doesn't discriminate between DualShock and DualSense controllers, so if you connect a DualShock 4 to your device running PS Remote Play, the controller will cooperate with PS5 games just fine. Admittedly, this is a roundabout solution that will likely result in more input lag than normal, but hey — at least you won't need to buy an extra DualSense!

Listen to 3D audio without a headset

When Sony started marketing the PlayStation 5, 3D audio was a selling point — flawless immersion that places you smack dab in the center of the game's soundscape. However, advertisements that promoted 3D audio also mentioned a special headset, the Pulse 3D wireless headset, which costs $100. Surely you can't put a price on immersion, right? You can if the console doesn't need the headset.

It turns out that 3D audio is built into the PS5, and you can access it from the sound menu. While the Pulse headset provides an ideal 3D audio experience, you can set up your speakers to deliver roughly the same result, albeit with a bit of tinkering. To use 3D audio with normal speakers, you have to run the PS5's built-in acoustic measurement. This program does all the work for you, but you have to run it again each time you move something in the room (or move the PS5 to another room).

Depending on the room and your TV's speakers, setting up 3D audio on your PS5 can provide a richer soundscape for your gaming pleasure. Of course, maybe it isn't worth the hassle, and you would rather listen to normal game audio. If nothing else, you can at least test the 3D soundscape waters before committing $100 to a headset you might not actually need.

Play with your PS5 upside down

The PlayStation 5 isn't that well designed. That's not to say it's ugly or underpowered, but you need to attach a stand to keep it stable. Few consoles have required such an accessory. If only there was a way to balance the PS5 without one. Well, there is, but not officially.

Many people have discovered you can play on your PS5 while it is essentially upside down. To do this, place the console horizontally, but instead of arranging the fans at the top to face right, the fans will instead face left. Or to describe it for PS5 Disc Drive Edition owners, instead of placing the disc drive side on the floor, the disc drive side should face the ceiling. What is so special about this orientation? It doesn't require a stand, which technically makes it superior to the official arrangements. However, if you plan to use discs while the console is in this unofficial orientation, you have to insert them upside down. An easy enough task, but only if you remember.

Sony even accidentally published an ad showing an upside-down PS5 and quickly pulled the video, which begs the question — why doesn't Sony want audiences to know of the console's optimal orientation? Actually, while we're at it, why Sony didn't make this an official orientation in the first place?

Mute all your audio with a single button

Remote controls are never there when you need them. They have an unfortunate tendency to crop up in unusual locations or fall between sofa cushions, which is frustrating when you need to mute a TV while playing a game. The only controller ever reliably on hand is the one you use for video games. Thankfully, with the PS5 that's all you need.

The PlayStation 5 DualSense controller includes a microphone and speaker you can control with the button underneath the PS button. However, this muting button also controls all PlayStation audio. Instead of tapping the button, hold it down for several seconds, and it should mute all audio associated with your PS5. The button glows when something is muted. If you only turn your mic off, the button will glow orange, but if you mute everything, it will pulse orange instead.

This universal mute feature is useful in numerous situations. Maybe you're fighting a particularly difficult boss such as Malenia, Blade of Miquella from "Elden Ring" and you don't want the epic soundtrack distracting you. Maybe life gets in the way and someone wants to talk to you, but you're in the middle of a "Final Fantasy XIV" dungeon and can't pause because your teammates are relying on you. Regardless of the reason, audio is no longer an obstacle.

Replace your console's panels

Remember the good old days when consoles came in more than one color? The PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 led the way with special limited editions that featured iconography and color palettes ripped straight from your favorite titles. Unfortunately, Sony has forgotten about this and now only produces the PlayStation 5 with standard white fins, even when bundled with games. However, you don't have to settle for those panels if you don't want to.

While nobody offers PS5 panels inspired by games yet, you can purchase simple PS5 Console Covers directly from Sony. These include basic shades such as blue, red, and black. Recently, the company added a gray camouflage option. Fingers crossed for more creative panels in the future. If you want a bigger selection of colors and patterns, you need to go through unofficial channels. Third-party companies such as Aim Controllers and Dbrand offer their own lines of plates, which also include extra fan vents and differently-shaped fins. Some of these accessories even feature customizable lights for gamers who are sick of the PS5's standard blue and orange lighting.

Store your PS4 games directly on an external drive

The PlayStation 5 might boast stronger hardware compared to the PlayStation 4, but the console falls behind in terms of storage capacity — doubly so given the stringent requirements of PS5 games. You can easily free up space in your console's internal SSD by moving PS5 games to external drives, but you can't play them off these storage devices. You are better off saving external drives for your PS4 library.

Unlike PS5 games, PS4 titles can run off an external hard drive. Simply plug the drive into the console and transfer the games to free up SSD space for PS5 games. If you have a huge backlog of PS4 games, just keep your external drive permanently affixed to the PS5. That way, whenever you install a PS4 game, you can download it directly onto that secondary hard drive. Once the external drive is formatted, the PS5 console lets you set it as the default install location for PS4 games.

If you have way more PS5 games than you can store, you are better off purchasing an extra SSD. However, if the issue is a surplus of PS4 games, an external drive is a cheaper, easier solution.

Universally set game presets

Whenever you boot up a game for the first time, it runs you through a similar set of options. Do you want the game on easy or hard mode? How bright do you want the picture? Closed captions or no captions? Different TV models drastically alter some settings, but for more universal options, you can make the PS5 automatically choose for you.

If you visit the Settings menu and select Saved Data and Game/App Settings, you can select a variety of presets that automatically activate certain options and let you start a game faster. These include game difficulty, performance, resolution mode, subtitles, audio selections, and camera view.

Since some choices, such as brightness and contrast, differ depending on the TV, the PS5 cannot automatically make those changes for you. You're going to have to use your own eyes for those settings. For everything else, the console can do most of the heavy lifting to cut out the monotony.

Play with a mouse and keyboard

While you've probably used the USB port on the PlayStation 5's front to charge the DualSense controller, you might have forgotten about the two USB ports on the console's back. If you plug a keyboard and mouse into those slots, you can use them as you do a mouse and keyboard on a PC. Even if the rear slots are already occupied, you can pair a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard to your console.

Admittedly, pairing a mouse and keyboard to your PS5 seems superfluous since the console's games already support DualSense controllers. However, some PS5 games work better with a mouse and keyboard, which gives gamers extra options they never knew they had. 

While the list of PS5 games compatible with mice and keyboards is pretty short, there are quite a few titles that benefit from an alternate control scheme, such as "Cities: Skylines." Gamers can even play favorites like "Fortnite" and "Final Fantasy XIV" using a mouse and keyboard instead of the DualSense controller.

Share your library with friends and family

Video games are becoming more expensive. Thanks to recent developments, you can now expect to pay around $70 for a new game at launch — plus extra for season passes and DLC. Depending on how close you are to your gamer friends and family members, you can mitigate the escalating prices by consolidating game libraries.

Games are easier to share on Sony's consoles, and this trend continues with the PlayStation 5. You can always swap discs with your friends, but you can also combine digital collections with Console Sharing. Anyone who logs into a console with this feature enabled will gain access to its owner's library and even their PlayStation Plus account.

While Console Sharing sounds like a simple process, that only applies to setting it up as the feature itself includes a few caveats. For starters, Console Sharing only goes one way — friends can access your games when you have activated Console Sharing on your PS5, but not vice versa. If you want to log into someone else's PlayStation and play their games, they will have to enable sharing on their console as well. Also, you can only share digital games with this feature. If you installed a game using a disc, anyone who wants to play it will also need the disc.

Remap your DualSense controller's buttons

For the most part, developers have learned what control schemes are comfortable and which ones cause finger cramps. However, sometimes this knowledge slips through the cracks. Other times, gamers just prefer their own custom control schemes. Thankfully, DualSense controllers are highly customizable.

If you visit your DualSense controller's settings menu, you can remap button assignments. For instance, you can swap the left and right analog sticks, as well as switch the functionality of the plus and circle buttons — which mirrors how they work in Japan. The only buttons you can't change are the DualSense Edge's Fn buttons, which are hard-wired into the shortcuts menu and let you quickly swap between the basic button assignments and your personalized ones.

Thanks to the DualSense Edge's extra buttons, remapping button assignments and quickly swapping between layouts becomes much easier. With a standard DualSense, you have to go into the settings menu and select Enable Custom Button Assignments every time you want to activate or deactivate the new controls. Of course, unless you share the controller with family members or constantly swap between games, you probably won't need to do that very often.

Voice chat with Discord

We've already gone over the microphone built into the PlayStation 5's DualSense controller, but the PS5 has another cheap and easy alternative to spending money on a headset — all you need is a smartphone.

In March of 2023, Sony implemented Discord integration. Not only can gamers link their accounts, but they can also use their phones to talk with their PlayStation friends. Just start a Discord voice chat on your phone's Discord app, and you can chat with people in your PlayStation group. You can even use the smartphone program to remotely turn on your console — so long as it is in sleep mode and the Enable Turning On PS5 From Network setting is activated.

Overall, using your Discord app with your PS5 is as easy as using it for regular Discord chats. Of course, depending on how long you plan on playing, you might want to charge your smartphone — the last thing any "Call of Duty: Warzone" player wants is for their primary line of communication to run out of juice mid-match.

Manage your console and library from your smartphone

Since the PlayStation 5 is not portable, you have to leave it at your house. However, you can monitor and maintain its storage anytime you wish, thanks to an app.

The PlayStation App, or PS App for short, is a mobile program that, quite obviously, connects to your PlayStation. If you have more than one PS console in your house, you can manage each one individually using the app. While the PS App lets you chat with friend groups and keep track of all your trophies, it also works as a remote storage manager. The program lets you edit and upload screenshots or game clips, delete games to free up hard drive space, and download new games to the now-emptied SSD. Plus, you can even purchase games through the PS App and pre-download them, assuming Sony has unlocked that feature for the game you just bought.

Ultimately, the PS App is quite simple, but that's all it needs to be. Sometimes you just need a tiny bit of help to manage your storage space.