SwissFEL is a compact, high-brilliance, soft and hard X-ray free electron laser (FEL) facility that started user operation in 2019. The facility is composed of two parallel beam lines seeded by a common linear accelerator (LINAC), and a two-bunch photo-injector. For the injector, an innovative dual-photocathode laser scheme has been developed based on state-of-the-art ytterbium femtosecond laser systems. In this paper, we describe the performance of the SwissFEL photocathode drive lasers (PCDLs), the pulse-shaping capabilities as well as the versatility of the systems, which allow many different modes of operation of SwissFEL. The full control over the SwissFEL electron bunch properties via the unique architecture of the PCDLs will enable in the future the advent of more-advanced FEL modes; these modes include, but are not restricted to, the generation of single or trains of sub-femtosecond FEL pulses, multi-color FEL and finally, the generation of fully coherent X-ray pulses via laser-based seeding.