How to Play MAME ROMs on Your Mac

This guide will take you step by step through the process of setting up your Mac so that you can play MAME ROMs (games) on it.

Today I stumbled across an old CD I have full of MAME ROMs. I thought I’d see if you could play them in macOS, and sure enough it’s actually quite straight forward.

Here’s how you can play MAME ROMs on your Mac –

  1. To get started, download OpenEmu. Open the .zip file and drag the App to your Applications folder to install it. Instead of double-clicking the App to open it, locate OpenEmu in your Applications list, hold down the Control key on your keyboard and then click OpenEmu. Select Open from the shortcut menu.
  2. opening OpenEmu app by control-clicking it

  3. Click Open when prompted.
  4. a macOS unverified developer confirmation window

  5. If you’re using the latest version of macOS, you’ll need to grant the App keystroke permission. Click the Open System Preferences button.
  6. the keystroke receiving permission window in macOS

  7. Make sure there’s a check in the box next to OpenEmu and then close the Security & Privacy panel.
  8. the Security & Privacy section of the macOS Preferences with an arrow pointing to OpenEmu

  9. Click Next on the first screen of the ‘installation wizard’.
  10. the first screen of the OpenEmu installation wizard

  11. Unless you have a good reason, leave all of the items on the System Cores Installation window checked and then click the Next button.
  12. selecting all gaming systems in OpenEmu

  13. Finally, click the Go button to start using OpenEmu.
  14. an arrow pointing to a Go button

  15. Open a Finder window and locate your .ROM files. Select them all and then ‘drag and drop’ them into the Drag & Drop Games Here section of OpenEmu.
  16. the main OpenEmu window with an arrow pointing to the Drag and Drop Games Here section

  17. Before you jump into a game, let’s configure your keyboard controls/gamepad. Open the Preferences by selecting OpenEmu from the Apple Menu Bar and then Preferences… from the drop-down menu.
  18. the OpenEmu Preferences window

  19. Select the Control button from the navigation panel towards the top of the OpenEmu screen. Select one of the gaming systems you’re going to be using from the first drop-down menu. As you can see in the screenshot below, I selected Nintendo (NES). Now you can select the keys you want to represent the buttons on the NES controller. Once you’ve configured your keyboard/controller, close the Preferences window.
  20. configuring an input to play MAME ROMs on your Mac

  21. Now scroll down towards the bottom of the panel on the left side of OpenEmu and choose All Games from the list of gaming systems.
  22. an arrow pointing to the All Games option

  23. To launch a game, just double-click its thumbnail.
  24. MAME game thumbnails

  25. Ta-da! Jump in and play :)
  26. play MAME ROMs on a Mac

  27. Should you need to quickly reconfigure your keyboard or controller, just select the ‘cog’ from the floating window at the bottom of the OpenEmu app and then Edit Game Controls from that menu.
  28. an arrow pointing to a floating config panel

  29. That’s it – now you can play all sorts of MAME games on your Mac.

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8 thoughts on “How to Play MAME ROMs on Your Mac”

  1. This doesn’t work. My MAME roms are not recognized by Open Emu, nor does it have a separate section for Arcade. Please advise.

  2. I am using Mame OS X and it works perfectly. I enjoy all of the major games, the only problem I have is the CHD files. Almost in every game that requires it does not work, I get the “not supported” message. I have every file required to play but a game like Killer Instinct does not . Any body have any luck?

  3. Lamar Gary (Lamarvelous)

    it was so easy. The reason why files are missing because modern games have way more data and need CDs so there is a special file… I think its cdh or chd or something like that, can’t remember anymore. But you put that in your rom folder, just like a NeoGeo Bios zip for Neo Geo games. Then you are closer. I wish I could be more descriptive, but it’s been a while since I did this. But the point is, put in a little more effort and don’t give up because it is possible to play the games you love from back then! Keep going!

  4. Ok for all people who get the message Some Files Were missing try clicking, File on the top mac tool bar and click Audit all undated games or Audit all games.

  5. Thank you so much! I couldn’t get my roms to import to the new mac mame and had no information forthcoming. This praise is certainly belated relative to your post but thank you nonetheless.

  6. ok guys i’ve been trying to get STREET FIGHTER 3rd stike to run….however….i seem to have all of the files…the LOG just tells me that it cannot find the 33s000.chd file BUT ITS CLEARLY inside the HARD DISK IMAGES folder where i put it. I tried re-directing in the PREFERENCES but nothing seems to work…..wtf!?? i have downloaded 2 versions of the CHD file and put it twice in the folder….i even ZIPPED it….but nothing…. any ideas as to why the log wont find my file even though its where its supposed to be??

  7. I am just wondering, How long does it take to update the game list? …because i seem to be sitting, waiting, wishing it finishes soon so i can play some games

    Thanks Ross

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