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Wondering how to set up DeSmuME to play Nintendo DS games on your computer?

DeSmuME is one of the best Nintendo DS emulators out there, offering users the greatest flexibility especially in terms of screen display and no-nonsense bundle of features that we expect from most emulators. And unlike other emulators, like melonDS, DeSmuME offers fullscreen mode that can give you a fully immersive experience.

In this comprehensive tutorial, you’ll learn how to download, install, and configure DeSmuME to optimize your gameplay. Let’s begin!

Table of Contents

  • Should I Download DeSmuME?
  • Quick Directions for Using DeSmuME
  • In-Depth Directions to Start Using DeSmuME
  • Getting DeSmuME
  • Loading a Game with DeSmuME
  • Setting up your Controller
  • Graphics Configuration
    • LCD Layouts
    • Full Screen Mode
    • Magnification Filters
    • 3D Enhancement
  • Special Features
    • Save States
    • Fast Forward
    • Capturing Screenshots
    • How to Record AVI movies with DeSmuME
    • Converting AVI movies
  • DeSmuME FAQ

Should I Download DeSmuME?

As of this writing in 2020, there are plenty of emulator offerings to choose from. DeSmuME is just one option among many, which begs the question: Why should I download DeSmuME?

The truth of the matter is that DeSmuME has a number of clear advantages that are lacking in other Nintendo DS emulators, many of which can be a deal-breaker for many gamers: DeSmuME supports 3D graphics and enables full screen mode.

Even when comparing DeSmuME to most gamers’ first-choice in Nintendo DS emulation, melonDS, DeSmuME shines for those that are just looking for an emulator that works right out of the box without complex installations.

As with any type of program, it is always recommended that you try a number of emulators to see which one is the most comfortable and provides the best gaming experience for you.

Quick Directions for Using DeSmuME

Before we jump into this tutorial, if you’re familiar with most emulators, using DeSmuMe is a cinch and only takes a few minutes to start gaming.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Configure Controller
  • Configure Graphics
  • Load ROM
  • Start Playing!

That’s all that you have to do – and that’s why DeSmuME is preferred over other emulators.

In-Depth Directions to Start Using DeSmuME

There are a couple of easy steps to install and start enjoying one of the best Nintendo DS emulators using DeSmuME:

  • Getting DeSmuME
  • Loading a Game with DeSmuME
  • Setting up your Controller
  • Graphics Configuration
  • Special Features

Getting DeSmuME

The first step to using DeSmuME is to download a copy of DeSmuME from the emulator’s home page:

Once there, navigate to the menu on the right under Pages > Downloads. You’ll be taken to a page that looks like this:

Click on the link and you’ll be taken to the next page:

There will be a link on the next page for the DeSmuM’s .exe installer file. Click on it and download to your computer. The .exe file will have an icon that looks like this:

(Note for Windows users:DeSmuME depends on the Microsoft UCRT DLLs. If you are unsure if these DLLs are already installed, download and run the latest version of the following installer before running DeSmuME: Download Latest Prerequisite Installer.)

That’s it!

Once you’ve downloaded the .exe file, simply click it and you’re ready to start playing your favorite Nintendo DS games with DeSmuME.

Loading a Game with DeSmuME

First, click on the .exe icon to start up DeSmuME. You’ll encounter a that looks like this:

Once it’s open, click on File > Open ROM (or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + O).

The “Open” window will appear and you can select the folder where you store your ROMs. Simply select a ROM, then click Open. The game will then begin playing immediately. Easy!

One great feature of DeSmuME is that it supports loading ROMs in all the popular formats, like .NDS, but also compression formats: ZIP, RAR, 7Z, GZ. This means that you don’t need to extract the ROM prior to using it with DeSmuME.

(Note: After selecting a ROM, DeSmuME will create its own ROMs folder where you have the .exe file stored for handy storage in the future.)

Setting up your Controller

Now that you have installed DeSmuME, it is time to configure it for gameplay.

DeSmuME enables you to use your computer or nearly all compatible controllers to play games. To set up the keyboard or gamepad, click on the menu Config > Control Config.Apple xquartz.

Once selected, you’ll be taken to this screen:

As a default, the following are the keyboard keys that correspond to a normal Nintendo DS gamepad:

Ds Emulator

UP: Control

LEFT: Left

DOWN: Down

RIGHT: Right

B: Z

A: X

Y: A

X: S

LID: Disabled

START: Enter


L: D

R: C

UP LEFT: Disabled

UP RIGHT: Disabled

DN RIGHT: Disabled

DN LEFT: Disabled

DEBUG: Disabled

Reconfiguring a keyboard key is simple. Just click on the emulated keypad (it will be highlighted in green) and press the new keyboard key. The next selection will be highlighted and you will repeat the process until you’ve assigned all of the keys that you intend to use.

If you’re looking to set up a gamepad (such as a PS4 controller), the process is similar: Press each key on the controller to set where you’d like each key to be placed until you’re done. You can skip or select keys to assign by using your mouse.

Here’s a Nintendo DS controller for reference:

Unfortunately, there is no auto-configuration for setting up a controller, so this will have to be a manual process. Nevertheless, it’s an easy process!

Graphics Configuration

What makes DeSmuME a great Nintendo DS emulator is that it offers a wealth of customizable options to configure graphics for the best gameplay. Let’s cover some of the most popular ones.

LCD Layouts

Because the Nintendo DS has two screens, accurately emulating normal gameplay can be a bit awkward. Luckily, DeSmuME gives you a number of options, enabling you to change the arrangement of the second screen – or you can even hide it so you can blow up the main screen.

To do so, start by going to View > LCDs layout, as shown below

Considering that just about every modern monitor is widescreen, the best option for gameplay would be to select Horizontal.

Full Screen Mode

Press Alt+Enter to enter full screen. Press Alt+Enter again to go back to window mode. It is important to note that you cannot use the top menu in full-screen mode; instead, you will need to return to window mode to access it.

Magnification Filters

Because you have the ability to stretch out Nintendo DS games beyond their intended screen dimensions, you can use DeSmuME’s magnification filters to enhance graphics.

To access this magnification filters, click on View > Magnification Filter, then select one of the following filters:

  • Normal (this is the default selection)
  • LQ2x
  • LQ2xS
  • HQ2x
  • HQ4x
  • HQ2xS
  • 2Xsal
  • Super2Xsal
  • SuperEagle
  • Scanline
  • Bilinear
  • Nearest 2X
  • Nearest 1.5x
  • Nearest+ 1.5x
  • EPX
  • EPX+
  • EPX 1.5X
  • EPX+ 1.5X
  • 2xBRZ
  • 3xBRZ
  • 4xBRZ
  • 5xBRZ

3D Enhancement

Desmume Emulator Controls

For 2D games, DeSmuME is a great emulator for most Nintendo DS games. However, when it comes to 3D games, the graphics can be downright ugly. Thanks to DeSmuME’s online community, other people have managed to create a better version known as “DeSmuME X432R” that renders 3D graphics in a higher resolution that simply looks great.

  1. Start by visiting
    1. [insert pic]
  1. Next, click on “Download” on the bottom of the screen.
  2. A Save As dialogue box will appear and save the file in the same folder as your DeSmuME .exe file.
  3. Once downloaded, unzip the file’s contents.
  4. Click on either DeSmuME_X432R_x86.exe or DeSmuME_X432R_x64.exe, which brings up similar gameplay screens as “regular” DeSmuME.

Now that it is loaded, you can enable high-resolution 3D in DeSmuME X432R:

Desmume Emulator Controls
  1. First, enlarge the screen. Go to View > Window Size and select either 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x.
    1. [insert pic]
  1. Next, click on Config > High-Resolution 3D Renderer and select either X2, X3, or X4, choosing one that closely corresponds to what size you chose in the previous step (ex. For 3x, choose 3x; For 5x, choose 4x).
    1. [insert pic]
  1. When enabling these high-res 3D graphics in DeSmuME, you may experience lag during gameplay. Because this is a resource-demanding feature that requires a computer with a fast processor, you may want to try different settings. For example, if you are experiencing lag with X4, try using X3 or X2 instead to find a sweetspot where gameplay is uninterrupted or tolerable.

(Note: Be aware that DeSmuME X432R has a few catches: it’s not really kept up-to-date. The most current version is 2015, but that version is still working and excellent. Also, it is only available for Windows 32-bit x86 and Windows 64-bit x86-64.)

Save States

Save states is a common feature on most emulators and DeSmuME is no exception. Essentially, the feature enables you to save the exact spot you are in any game – perfect for breaks when you don’t want to pause games at normal save points or junctures in a game where it branches off past the point of no-return.

DeSmuME offers two ways to use save states. You have quick saves and save state files:

  • Quick saves: You can use this feature manually by choosing File > Save State or by quick keyboard shortcuts (better for fast-paced games) with Shift + F1 – 10 (each slot corresponds to each F1 – F10 keys). To load a quick save that you previously saved, go to File > Load State and choose the slot of the saved state you want to load.

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  • Save state files: If you’re looking for more flexibility for saving states, such as using a different emulator and allowing you to save a state as a file with a custom name, then this is the route you should to take. To capture a save state, click on File > Save State As. Then type in a name for the save then click Save or press the Enter key. Vice versa, to load a save state that you previously saved, go to File > Load State From and select the save you want to load.

Desmume Emulator Controls Pokemon

It’s important to note that DeSmuME can only load DeSmuME save states and not save states from other emulators. Additionally, it can only load a save state from a specific ROM. As an example, if you have the US version of Final Fantasy IV and you attempt to load a save state from the UK version, it will not be compatible.

Fast Forward

Fast forward is a great feature to speed up gameplay (or skip through previously ‘unskippable’ dialogue/story arcs. Zzzzzz…). To access the fast forward feature, there are two ways:

  • Press the Tab key. Hold the Tab key down and let go until you want the fast forwarding to end.
  • If you want a permanent, hands-free way to enable the fast forwarding feature, you can do so by pressing the + key several times. This will increase the frame rate. Pressing will lower the frame rate back to normal speed.

Capturing Screenshots

Capturing screenshots with DeSmuME is simple. Simply press Ctrl+F12 to capture a screenshot. If you want to give the screen shot a custom filename, press F12 instead. You can also access these functions by clicking File > Save Screenshot As… or File > Quick Screenshot.

Screenshots in DeSmuME are saved in PNG format and can be found in the “Screenshots” folder. Screenshots are saved in its original 1×1 size and use the vertical LCD layout.

Of course, you will probably want to edit your screenshots. If you need a graphics editor to edit screenshots, the following are some of the best free photo editors:

  • Pixlr Editor (
  • GIMP (
  • Paint.NET (
  • Photoshop CS2 (Note: Free for PC users only with an Adobe account) (…/index.cfm?e=cs2_downloads)

How to Record AVI movies with DeSmuME

Do you want to upload your own Nintendo DS gameplay videos to YouTube? Or share videos of your greatness with friends?

You’re in luck if you’re using DeSmuME, which allows you to capture video in .AVI format easily. Here’s how to record AVI movies with DeSmuME:

  1. Play up to the point you want to start recording (or load a saved state to attempt more memorable gaming moments).
  2. Go to File > Record AVI.
  3. You will be prompted with the Save As window. Enter the name and file destination you would like for your movie clip, then click Save.
  4. Next, DeSmuME prompts you options the Video Compression window. There are several options to choose from (Intel IYUV codec, Microsoft RLE, Microsoft Video 1, and the default, Full Frames (Uncompressed)), but for most cases, leave it as “Full Frames (Uncompressed)” and click OK.
  5. After clicking OK, the recording begins.
    1. Bear in mind that DeSmuME may run a bit sluggish while recording video and could affect gameplay. However, the movie itself will not contain these latency issues.
  6. When you’re ready to stop recording your gameplay, go to File > Stop AVI.

When you play your DeSmuME movie, you will see it is rendered in its 1×1 size and with the regular vertical LCD layout.

Converting AVI movies

When it comes to sharing your epic gaming videos with DeSmuME, you shouldn’t experience any problems: Most online video-sharing platforms like YouTube will not have a problem playing your saved video after you upload it.

However, you may run into problems with more elaborate video editors. That’s why you need a program to convert your AVI recordings to a more compatible formats such as MP4 and MOV.

The following is a list of great free and freemium programs to convert your DeSmuME videos:


For a complete wiki on more specific questions that users of DeSmuME may have, visit for an up-to-date resource that covers nearly every question you may have – and some you never thought you had!