10 utterly essential PS4 tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your console

So you’ve gotten yourself a new PS4. Must feel good to finally be a part of the next level of gaming, and there’s never been a better time considering the huge array of great quality games that have released over the years, and the massive amount of things you can do with your system. To get you started, here are 10 must know PS4 tips to check out once you’ve gotten it out of the box and plugged into your TV.

1. Free games? Get playing immediately!

The best things in life are free, and that’s never been truer on PS4. Where once “free to play” might have made you shiver for games compromised with microtransactions, there are plenty of games available on PS4 right out of the box that don’t cost anything at all - and they’re some of the best games on the system. 

You can find every free game by going to PlayStation Store > Free. But we’d recommend the likes of Fortnite (you don’t need us to tell you why, surely); the Destiny-like mission based Warframe; and the free Final Fantasy XIV Trial that allows you to play up to half the level cap 35, which is a huge amount of the game. See what takes your fancy, and don’t let not having many games stop you from having fun.

2. Drop one price for a whole load of the best games

On the other side of the spectrum, what if you could pay just a small amount to immediately have access to some of the best PlayStation games ever made? For £12.99 a month (or £84.99 a year) you can join PlayStation Now to be able to play over 500 games - including PS2, PS3, and PS4 titles. These games can be streamed to your PS4, or in many cases with PS4 games downloaded directly as long as you connect to the internet once a week. Highlights include Bloodborne, Until Dawn, and BioShock Infinite to name just a few. There’s no better way to kick off your gaming career than by chowing down on some of the sweetest fruits out there.

3. Welcome to your new entertainment hub — and stream from your computer

While the PS4 does have some of the best games out right now, that’s not all you’ll end up using it for. Most TV/movie services you’re probably already a member of have an app on PS4 - including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Now TV. You can find them all in your TV & Video default application on the Home menu or in your Library.

You can stream whatever content you might have on  your own computer to your PS4 by using the Media Server App (that you can download from the PlayStation Store) and setting up your own server folders on your computer using something like Universal Media Server. Or use Plex that has its own distinct PS4 app that you use to access Plex shared folders from your home computer.

4. Get social - don’t let your followers miss a single thing

There’s nothing sadder than playing a game alone, seeing something really cool, and not being able to share it with anyone. That’s where the magical “share” button new to the DualShock 4 comes in. Tap it, and you can save a screenshot or a clip of video from the last 15 minutes of gameplay to your social platform of choice. You can upload an image straight to Twitter, or put a funny clip right on YouTube while staying sat on that sofa. Editing a clip down to a specific moment from that last 15 minutes couldn’t be easier.

For the best experience, it’s worth turning Easy Screenshots on in Settings > Sharing and Broadcasts > SHARE Button Control Type so you can tap away at that Share button and grab a heap at once. To avoid getting too many screenshots with the “screenshot captured” notification bar in them, you can actually turn that off by going to Settings > Pop-Up Notifications too.

5. Sharing digital games is caring

We all used to borrow our friends’ games when we were younger, but as the digital age has come at us full force that’s become a lot less simple. There still aren't many great solutions, but if you’re in a shared household anyone using the same PS4 can play each other’s installed games as long as it’s set as the game owner’s “primary PS4”. You can set this by going to Settings > Account Management. This is especially good news if you have kids, or maybe even flatmates.

6. Get your groove on in-game with Spotify

Sure, sometimes we love to put our best PS4 headset on and really get invested in the story and world of God of War, but other times we want to play something and just zen out and switch off. While the FIFA 19 soundtrack might be filled with some real “bangers” there’s only so many times you can listen to those tunes in a row. The PS4 Spotify app you can download from the PSN store can overlay its audio to play directly over your game, and you can manage it easily from the quick menu by holding the controller’s PlayStation button.

7. Pick a theme that’s right for you

It’s easy to undervalue the importance of customisation. But just like when you finally change that ugly wallpaper in your new flat, you won’t realise quite how much it meant to you until you got it done. This is home now. And so is your PS4. You can find a heap of Themes in the PlayStation Store under the Themes category and plaster them up in Settings > Themes on your PS4 to give your home screen a visual and audio lick of paint. There are a load available for free, or for a small price. Many digital editions or pre-orders of games will come with one. But what you can’t put a price on is your PS4 feeling like it’s yours. Because the last few years of my life just wouldn’t be the same without crying over Aeris’ Theme every time I leave the home screen on in my living room.

8. Get online, get playing, (and get monthly free games)

On PS4 the single-player experience is far from dead. 2018 alone saw the likes of God of War, Spider-Man PS4, and Detroit: Become Human offering fantastic solo stories to play through. But let’s be honest, what’s gaming these days without hopping online to pull off a few headshots now and again and really butt heads against real human players? Most online games (although Fortnite is an exception) require a PlayStation Plus subscription to do so.

You can nab a subscription for a the reasonable price of £6.99 a month, £19.99 for 3 months, £49.99 for a year, or find subscription cards at most gaming stores of choice. There’s more bonuses besides just playing online, including exclusive hefty discounts on the PSN Store, the ability to auto backup saves to the cloud, and around 6 games a month (two of which are guaranteed to be PS4 games). It’s your VIP Pass to a world of gaming bliss.

9. Use folders to keep track of your games

Now you’ve got all these games (and hopefully a decent amount of storage for downloading them all), you’re going to want to make sure you’re organised. Sure, you can find your recently played games in the home screen bar, or use the Library to browse all your games by those installed and those not-installed. But an easier way is to create folders to group your games right on the home screen for easy access. Just highlight a game and hit Options > Add to Folder. Want to keep all your online games in one place? You can! Want a folder just for when you’re in the mood to whack on an indie from your pile of shame? It’s got you covered. It pays to be organised.

10. Control your privacy (so you can game guilt free)

Instead of having to actually talk to your friends to find out what they’ve been up to, social media now allows us to know everything about everyone without the nasty inconvenience of having to, you know, actually ask. And PS4 is right there with the trend. That’s right, we can see you’re playing Final Fantasy 10 yet again. But if that’s not your bag you can actually tweak a whole host of settings to control specifically what people see. These are all in Settings > Account Management > Privacy Settings and can be adjusted to completely open, to friends, friends of friends, or nobody. You can hide specific games from showing in your activity too, if you have a guilty pleasure. Or, just Appear Offline altogether in Profile > Set Online Status for when you’re taking a sick day and don’t want your boss to know you’re grinding out on that Fortnite Battle Pass (sorry, not sorry).

Want more ideas for getting more from your PS4? Here's a whopping 45 PS4 setup tips.

Oscar Taylor-Kent

PLAY editor Oscar Taylor-Kent first joined Official PlayStation Magazine in 2018, and was involved with the long-standing mag’s rebrand into PLAY before becoming editor. Despite being a PlayStation expert (and noted PS Vita apologist), he’s got fingers on many buttons, having also written for GamesRadar, SFX, PC Gamer, Kotaku, Waypoint, Official Xbox Magazine, GamesMaster, PCGamesN, and Xbox to name but a few.

When not knee deep in character action games, JRPGs, and visual novels, he’s often found reading books, manga, or binging anime. His current favourite games include Devil May Cry, Persona, Ace Attorney, and Hakuoki.