OpenEmu: A Guide to Using the Mac Only Emulator App (2024)

Remember the good old days when you spent hours playing your favorite retro games on consoles like Nintendo, Sega, and Atari – what if I told you that you could relive those memories on your Mac with the OpenEmu emulator app?

Say hello to OpenEmu, a macOS only emulator app that will bring back your favorite childhood games in a whole new light. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about OpenEmu, from its features, to the installation process, and even how to customize your gaming experience.

Contents hide

1. Short Summary

2. Discovering OpenEmu: An All-in-One Emulator for Mac

2.1. What is OpenEmu?

2.2. Legal Concerns and ROMs

2.3. Supported Consoles

3. Installing OpenEmu on Your Mac

3.1. Installation for Ventura

3.2. Installation for Big Sur and Monterey

5. Customizing Your Gaming Experience

5.1. Controller Setup and Visualizations

5.2. Input Methods and Keyboard Access

5.3. Screen Filters and Graphics

6. Cheats and Game Hacking

6.1. Implementing Cheat Codes

6.2. Exploring Game Hacks

6.3. Pre-populated Tricks and Tips

7. OpenEmu Alternatives for Windows Users

7.1. RetroArch

7.2. Other Alternatives

8. Summary

9. Frequently Asked Questions

9.1. Is OpenEmu just for Mac?

9.2. What Mac OS is needed for OpenEmu?

9.3. Is OpenEmu an emulator?

9.4. What systems can OpenEmu emulate?

Short Summary

  • OpenEmu is an emulator app for macOS that allows users to play retro games from multiple supported systems including GameBoy, SNES, N64, Sega CD, and many more.
  • It is important to be aware of legal implications when downloading ROMs, and OpenEmu provides the necessary BIOS files for a smooth experience.
  • Customize your gaming experience with various controllers and explore game hacks or pre-populated tricks & tips available on OpenEmu. Windows users can use RetroArch or other alternatives as well.

Discovering OpenEmu: An All-in-One Emulator for Mac

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OpenEmu is a macOS only emulator app that simplifies video game emulation by enabling easy addition, browsing, organization, and gaming with a compatible gamepad. It supports many consoles, including Nintendo, Sega, Atari, Sony, and others, combining some of the best emulator projects into one beautiful unified application.

No more dealing with multiple emulators and controller setups, just one app that brings the world of retro gaming to your fingertips. So long as you have the appropriate library of games it will allow you a one stop shop for all your games.

What is OpenEmu?

OpenEmu is a revolutionary app for macOS that lets you play retro games from multiple consoles in one place. With its unified games library and original box art fetching, setting up your personal games library is extremely easy.

OpenEmu ensures compatibility with a variety of systems by incorporating multiple cores for each console. It’s one of the best emulation projects available and hands down the best for Mac.

However, it cannot emulate any system released within the past 15 years, so it’s a perfect fit for those nostalgic gaming sessions.

Legal Concerns and ROMs

Before diving into the world of OpenEmu, it’s important to address the legal concerns surrounding ROMs. It is generally prohibited to possess ROMs of any arcade machine, cartridge or CD-ROM without legally owning a physical copy of the game. Ignoring this rule could lead to legal consequences.

However, this is a murky area, especially for titles that are not available by any other means. Utilizing an emulator on your device is allowable under the law, but be cautious when downloading ROMs and ensure you’re abiding by the legal guidelines in your region.

Supported Consoles

OpenEmu is a versatile emulator which supports many classic gaming consoles. These include:

  • Atari 2600 (Stella)
  • Atari 5200 (Atari800)
  • Atari 7800 (ProSystem)
  • Atari Lynx (Mednafen)
  • ColecoVision (CrabEmu)
  • Famicom Disk System (Nestopia)
  • Game Boy / Game Boy Color (Gambatte)
  • Game Boy Advancem (GBA)
  • Game Gear (Genesis Plus GX)
  • Intellivision (Bliss)
  • NeoGeo Pocket (Mednafen)
  • Nintendo (NES) / Famicom (FCEUX & Nestopia)
  • Nintendo DS (DeSmuME)
  • Nintendo 64 (Mupen64Plus)
  • Nintendo GameCube (Dolphin)
  • Odyssey²/Videopac+ (O2EM)
  • PC-FX (Mednafen)
  • SG-1000 (Genesis Plus GX)
  • Sega 32X (picodrive)
  • Sega CD / Mega CD (Genesis Plus GX)
  • Sega Genesis / Mega Drive (Genesis Plus GX)
  • Sega Master System (Genesis Plus GX)
  • Sega Saturn (Mednafen)
  • Sony PlayStation (Mednafen)
  • Sony PSP (PPSSPP)
  • Super Nintendo (SNES) (BSNES & Snes9x)
  • TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine/SuperGrafx (Mednafen)
  • TurboGrafx-CD/PC Engine CD (Mednafen)
  • Virtual Boy (Mednafen)
  • Vectrex (VecXGL)
  • WonderSwan (Mednafen)

Moreover, it can detect missing BIOS files and prompt users to obtain them.

For instance, PlayStation games require several BIOS files, while specific files are needed for Sega Saturn games. This ensures that your gaming experience runs smoothly, no matter which console you choose to emulate.

Installing OpenEmu on Your Mac

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Installing OpenEmu on macOS Ventura is quite simple. First, allow software from unidentified developers, then open the application and move OpenEmu to the applications folder. To ensure keyboard access, open the app and adjust your settings. OpenEmu needs your permission to access your keyboard. This prompt will direct you to your System Settings, where you can grant it.

It may be necessary to toggle this setting on and off to ensure proper functioning. Users may need to disable Input Monitoring for OpenEmu. To re-enable it, users must manually add it.

Installation for Ventura

To install OpenEmu on macOS Ventura, simply download the app and follow the installation process. Once installed, you can add, browse, organize, and play your favorite games.

However, be aware that there is an issue with fast-forwarding GBA games after the Ventura upgrade. To relocate OpenEmu to the applications folder, just drag and drop it from the download folder. To enable keyboard access, go to the “Accessibility” option in the System Preferences.

Installation for Big Sur and Monterey

For Mac users running Big Sur or Monterey, the installation process remains straightforward. Simply visit the OpenEmu website, download the installer, and follow the on-screen instructions. It really is that simple.

Once installed, you can select the emulators you want to download and add them to your OpenEmu library. To start playing a game, just double-click on its box art in the library.

Building Your Game Library

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Building your game library in OpenEmu is a breeze. Simply add ROMs by unzipping the ROM file and dragging it into the interface’s main window. OpenEmu will automatically search the web for box art or allow you to add it manually if it doesn’t find the desired image.

The app can detect missing BIOS files and prompt users to download them, requiring several BIOS files for PlayStation games and specific files for Sega Saturn games. Homebrew titles are also available for those who want to explore custom-built games.

Adding ROMs to OpenEmu

First, unzip the ROM file. Then drag it into the OpenEmu interface’s main window. The program will automatically recognize the console the ROM is associated with and search the web for box art. If the desired box art is not found, you can use Google Image Search to locate and apply it.

Upon successful addition of a file, the original ROM may still persist on your computer, as OpenEmu creates a duplicate of the file.

Organizing and Browsing Your Collection

OpenEmu makes organizing and browsing your game collection a seamless experience. The built-in library displays box art for each game and automatically organizes them by platform. Create custom collections across multiple platforms and standardize controller schemes, to make sure you have the best experience with each emulated system. You can do this easily.

If cover art does not appear, simply search for the appropriate image and drag it to the appropriate game.

Homebrew Games and BIOS Files

For those looking to explore custom-built games, OpenEmu includes homebrew titles. Open the program’s main menu to access the Homebrew tab. Select it to get started.

In addition, OpenEmu is capable of detecting absent BIOS files and will notify users to download them, necessitating multiple BIOS files for PlayStation games and particular files for Sega Saturn games. This ensures that your gaming experience runs smoothly, no matter which console you choose to emulate.

Customizing Your Gaming Experience

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One of the standout features of OpenEmu is its ability to let you customize your gaming experience. The app supports HID-compliant USB or Bluetooth game controllers, and controllers for Xbox may require special drivers to work.

Controller mapping can be customized by navigating to OpenEmu > Preferences > Controls. Recommended controllers for playing retro games on Mac include 8Bitdo, PowerA, and Hori, with the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro+ being the top pick. USB controllers are also a cheaper alternative for those on a budget.

Controller Setup and Visualizations

Setting up controllers in OpenEmu is a snap. The app automatically maps controls for compatible gamepads, so you can just plug and play.

To customize controller mapping, access Preferences > Mapping. Controls, where you’ll be able to select a console and view its controls with a corresponding stock controller image on the left. Each action has an associated field that can be modified according to your preference, ensuring the most comfortable gaming experience possible.

Input Methods and Keyboard Access

OpenEmu offers flexible input methods to suit your gaming style. To modify input methods, navigate to the Menu Bar and select OpenEmu > Settings > Controls. Here, you can configure different controls on your keyboard or add controllers that are compatible with OpenEmu.

In order for keyboard input to function correctly, users must grant OpenEmu “Input Monitoring” access in the Privacy pane of the Security & Privacy preferences, as per the new macOS security rules.

Screen Filters and Graphics

OpenEmu offers a variety of screen filters to enhance your gaming experience, including NTSC, CRT, Super CRT, LCD3x, and others. These filters can replicate the look of a classic CRT television or provide a crisper image, depending on your personal preference.

Experiment with different filters to find the one that best suits your gaming style and brings back those nostalgic memories.

Cheats and Game Hacking

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For those who enjoy a little extra help in their gaming sessions, OpenEmu supports Game Genie and other codes. Some games even come pre-populated with helpful tricks to make your gaming experience more enjoyable.

To find codes for your favorite games, check out, where you’ll find a wealth of resources to help you spice up your gameplay.

Implementing Cheat Codes

To implement cheat codes in OpenEmu, you can manually input them or employ a cheat code manager. To add cheats to the game, click on the gear icon in the HUD bar and select “Select Cheat” followed by “Add Cheat”. Once the cheat code is added, copy and paste it to enable it and ensure it functions properly.

Remember to play responsibly and use cheats only to enhance your gaming experience, not to ruin the fun for others.

Exploring Game Hacks

OpenEmu allows users to explore game hacks, which can alter the game’s code to enable cheats like invincibility, level skipping, and more. To add, delete, or enable cheats, simply select the desired cheats and click the relevant button.

To evaluate the cheats, begin the game and observe if they are functioning as anticipated. Exploring game hacks can add a new dimension to your retro gaming experience, so don’t be afraid to try new things.

Pre-populated Tricks and Tips

Some games in OpenEmu come with pre-populated tricks and tips to assist you in your quest for gaming glory. These helpful hints can make your gaming experience even more enjoyable and allow you to discover hidden secrets in your favorite titles.

So, whether you’re a seasoned gamer or new to the world of retro gaming, don’t hesitate to take advantage of these pre-populated tricks and tips.

OpenEmu Alternatives for Windows Users

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Unfortunately, OpenEmu is not available for Windows users, but there are alternatives like RetroArch, a free and open-source cross-platform frontend for emulators, game engines, video games, media players, and other applications. RetroArch allows Windows users to relive their favorite retro gaming memories just like OpenEmu does for Mac users.

In the next sections, we’ll discuss RetroArch and other alternatives for Windows users looking for a similar gaming experience.


RetroArch is a versatile alternative to OpenEmu for Windows users. This free and open-source app enables users to run classic games from various consoles, such as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), Sega Genesis, PlayStation, and more.

RetroArch also accommodates a broad range of input methods, including gamepads, keyboards, and mice, making it a suitable choice for gamers looking for an all-in-one emulator solution.

Other Alternatives

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In addition to RetroArch, there are other emulator applications available for Windows users, such as BizHawk, MAME, and PCSX2. These alternatives offer comparable features to OpenEmu, including support for multiple platforms, gamepad support, and the ability to customize the gaming experience.

While OpenEmu remains exclusive to Mac users, Windows users can still enjoy a similar gaming experience with these alternatives.


In conclusion, OpenEmu offers a unique and streamlined way to enjoy retro gaming on your Mac. With its all-in-one emulator solution, support for numerous consoles, and a user-friendly interface, OpenEmu makes it easy to relive your favorite gaming memories. While it’s not available for Windows users, alternatives like RetroArch provide a similar experience. So whether you’re a long-time gamer or new to the world of retro gaming, fire up your Mac, install OpenEmu, and get ready to immerse yourself in the nostalgia of classic video games.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is OpenEmu just for Mac?

OpenEmu is a multi-platform emulator program that’s popular for playing retro games on Mac. It’s available to Mac users exclusively, so it appears that OpenEmu is only for Mac.

What Mac OS is needed for OpenEmu?

OpenEmu is a great choice for classic game emulation on macOS 10.14 and above, providing an easy way to browse, add, and play ROMs you already own.

Make sure your system is compatible and follow instructions to ensure your games run smoothly.

Is OpenEmu an emulator?

Yes, OpenEmu is an emulator that can imitate various video game systems. It is capable of emulating Atari 2600 Stella, Atari 5200, and Atari 800, as well as a variety of other classic systems.

Additionally, it is available for free, although donations are encouraged.

What systems can OpenEmu emulate?

OpenEmu is an open-source multi-system emulator for macOS, allowing users to emulate a wide variety of gaming systems, including Atari, DS, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, NES, N64, PS1, PSP, Sega Genesis, and Super NES, and many more.

This comprehensive platform provides a plugin interface that emulates multiple console hardware and allows you to play classic games from the comfort of your Mac.

Check out this article on the RetroArch emulator here.

OpenEmu: A Guide to Using the Mac Only Emulator App (2024)


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