How to configure and use OpenEmu for retro games on macOS


If you are thinking about your children's games in Atari, ColecoVision or that old Commodore 64, you can relive those memories with retro games on your Mac. You will need emulation software to help you get started. Our favorite emulation software comes from OpenEmu and we will show you how to put it into operation.

What is OpenEmu?

OpenEmu is a free (You can donate if you like your software) and open-source graphic front-end for many software emulators (which in turn are also open source). OpenEmu makes it extremely easy to launch and run your favorite titles from previous generations from a multitude of systems such as Atari, Nintendo, Sega and even arcade systems.

OpenEmu features

OpenEmu allows simple configuration. You only need to download the installer, choose the emulators that you want to download freely and then drag and drop the titles saved in the program window. It automatically organizes the titles in the various systems for which they were created and facilitates the configuration of keyboard, gamepad and joystick controller inputs.

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Getting OpenEmu

OpenEmu comes in two flavors. Press Pack and an OpenEmu Experimental Press Pack. The only difference, as far as I can tell, is that the Press Pack lacks support for the M.A.M.E., which is a gaming machine emulation software.

What is M.A.M.E.

For simplicity, I will define M.A.M.E. as an old software file that runs arcade systems of yesteryear. The developers try their best to recreate the software systems that run / run on arcade-based computers and do so strictly through CPU emulation for that purpose. Developers avoid using GPU acceleration for emulation because actual software execution is simply a separate one for the purpose of their mission. As a result, if you want to run some older arcade games, in addition to having an authentic arcade CPU board, your best option would be M.A.M.E. draft.

Here we show you how to obtain the M.A.M.E. full. OpenEmu enabled version.

  1. Go to
  2. Click on the download now button

    Source: iMore

  3. Click Allow when prompted to allow OpenEmu to download to your Mac.

When the download is complete, the OpenEmu icon will appear on your desktop.

Running OpenEmu for the first time

When you start OpenEmu for the first time, you will have to allow your Mac to run software from an unidentified developer and choose the emulators you want to download and run.

  1. Double click on the OpenEmu Icon on your desktop.
  2. Close the warning popup telling you that the application cannot be opened by clicking Cancel.

    Double click on the OpenEmu icon, then close the pop-up window

    Source: iMore

  3. Click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your Mac's screen.
  4. Click on System preferences.

    Click on the Apple icon, then click on System Preferences

    Source: iMore

  5. Click on Security and Privacy.
  6. Browse to general tongue.
  7. Click on the to block in the lower left corner of the Security and privacy window.

    Click on Security and privacy, then click on the lock

    Source: iMore

  8. Enter your System Administrator Password.
  9. Click to unlock
  10. Click Open anyway below Allow applications downloaded from. OpenEmu will open immediately, and so will another warning.

    Enter your password and click Unlock, then click Open anyway

    Source: iMore

  11. Click Open system preferences when prompted to allow OpenEmu to receive keystrokes from any application.
  12. Close the OpenEmu program at this time.
  13. Click on the to block in the lower left corner of the Security and privacy window when it appears.
  14. Enter your System Administrator Password.

    Click Open System Preferences, then click on the lock

    Source: iMore

  15. Click to unlock
  16. Check the box next to OpenEmu to allow you to monitor entries from your keyboard even while using other applications.
  17. Click on the to block in the lower left corner of the window to avoid further changes.

    Click Unlock, then check the OpenEmu box, then click on the lock again

    Source: iMore

Running the OpenEmu startup wizard for the first time

  1. Launching OpenEmu on your Mac
  2. Click next on the welcome screen.
  3. Select or deselect Any and all emulator cores that you want to be able to download and use.
  4. Click next.
  5. Click Come on To start your adventure!

    Source: iMore

Install games

Installing games is as easy as dragging and dropping the game files you own. The games will be magically placed in the correct system header automatically.

  1. Open Discoverer.
  2. Find your game ROM.
  3. Drag the ROM of your game to OpenEmu window.
  4. Done.

Configuring entries

As with everything else in OpenEmu, the configuration of your input devices is extremely easy.

  1. In OpenEmu, go to preferences.
  2. Tap S control.
  3. Choose the system You want to edit controls for. Having a gamepad similarly makes it much easier.
  4. Click on the control you want to edit and then touch the button or keyboard input with which you want to assign it.

    Source: iMore

  5. Complete all entries as desired.

Playing games

  1. Find the system for which you installed the game.
  2. Double click Title.
  3. To play.

Games? What games?

I bought a X-Arcade Tankstick with trackball from Xgaming, and that purchase gave me more than 200 arcade games that I can legally enjoy. M.A.M.E. it also has a file of free to download and play Full-fledged arcade ROMS. In addition to that, you can also find a series of homemade beer developers who have created and continue to create new games for the various emulated home consoles.

Final thoughts

I love games. Yes, even play on Mac (maybe especially). I am also configured for virtual reality games on my eGPU connected to MacBook pro. But I will always have a weakness for the oldest arcade titles of my youth. That's why I love OpenEmu. I can simply go directly into the action without worrying about the configuration. What emulator do you use for your retro games? Let us know in the comments!

Updated in February 2020: Updated with steps for the macOS Catalina security solution.


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