What’s the best DS Emulator for Mac?

The Nintendo DS is one of the most underrated handheld consoles of the last two decades, with games like Advance Wars: Dual Strike and the original Animal Crossing being fan favourites.

The good news is that you don’t necessarily need a console to revisit these games, as there are DS emulators online that can give you the same experience.

When it comes to the best Nintendo DS Emulator for Mac OS, there’s a few different softwares that you can choose from.

What is a DS Emulator for Mac?

In computing an emulator is a piece of hardware or software that allows one computer like another computer, we call this the host and the guest.

An emulator allows us to play games of the past on computers of today, even if the console they were once played on is no longer available for consumers.

The Nintendo DS is one of the most popular handheld consoles of all time, in 2013 it was discontinued. Enter, Nintendo DS emulators, all the fun of DS gaming even if you don’t have the console anymore.

Those of us who remember the DS, still have a special place in our hearts for it, even the younger generation of gamers that may not remember the console will know the games that made the DS so popular in the past.

Plus, there are some Nintendo DSi titles that you just can’t get on the newer Nintendo consoles.

And just like you can play Pokemon on an iPhone emulator, you can get a DS emulator for your Macbook too. There are a lot of emulators for Android, iOS and even Windows, but there’s less Nintendo DS games emulators for the MacOS. This makes finding a good one pretty tough.

For MacOS, there is a whole host of DS emulators that fulfil this purpose some better than others. This includes emulators for 3DS and DSi, some of the emulators even go as far as hosting games for Sega Genesis and other consoles to make it worthwhile.

This article will look at some of the available DS emulators for Mac so you can get the best out of your gaming.

1) DeSmuME


PLATFORM: Windows, Mac OS, Linux.

DeSmuME is a free open source emulator for all desktop platforms. Supporting 64 and 32 bit operating systems there are customisable graphics options. There is also a cheat code manager for the games that it hosts as well as a ‘save slot’ feature allowing you to save your game progress.

It’s often considered amongst the best DS emulators, especially for Mac as there’s a lot of improvements made to the Cocoa frontend (Cocoa is Apple’s API for the MacOS).

In fact, there were improvements made to the rendering system as recently as 2022 helping to ensure a fast and accurate emulation.


Along with NO$GBA it is one of the most used DS emulators out there. The emulator also supports USB controller support so you can play games using a pad from your desktop. Please note that to run on Windows, DeSmuME depends on Microsoft UCRT DLLs.

If you are uncertain whether these DLLs are already installed on your PC, you can download and run the pre-requisites installer from GitHub first.

As well as Mac users, Windows users and Linux users can also use DeSmuME as it’s completely free and available across different platforms.

2) Citra


PLATFORM: Windows, Mac OS, Linus and Android.

Citra is one of the best Nintendo 3DS emulators available, a free open-source emulator that allows you to play 3DS games both homebrew and commercial games.

You can play all of the most popular titles such as Pokémon games. It has fast rendering if you’re using a newer Macbook, and is much improved over older versions of the software.

The downfall of Citra is it doesn’t tend to work as well on older desktop machines and is incompatible with some apps and games.

It connects to Wi-Fi but not to Nintendo game servers as a rule. It is also available on Android unlike some of the other DS emulators available.

3) MelonDS


PLATFORM: Windows, Mac OS, Linux.

MelonDS is one of the best and most well-known Nintendo DS emulators for computers. It is an open-source emulator that provides accurate and fast-moving emulation for Nintendo DS games we all know and love like Mario Bros and Pokémon games.

The gameplay is single-player only but the emulator has a tone of features that it supports such as joystick support and 3D upscaling.

Although the emulator works with DSi titles as well it requires BIOS, Firmware and NAND images from the original DSi. This emulator is under constant development with the latest beta build being developed for Mac most recently.

This is one of the best DS emulators on the market, but it will require a bit of tinkering to get you to the place where it is useable.

4) OpenEmu



OpenEmu is a free open source emulator and is cited as one of the best specifically for Mac. OpenEmu is an emulator for multiple consoles including, Genesis, Nintendo GS and Game Boy.

It has a similar interface to Apple iTunes and organises the games you already own into a modified game library. This makes scrolling through Nintendo DS titles pretty easy.

You can make collections mixing and matching game titles from different consoles as well as organising your games into multi-screen layouts, allowing you to save your game progress and has cheat code support. You can also add a pad to play including PS4 pad or a Wiimote.


In conclusion, emulators mean that as gamers we can enjoy the games of the past right now and well into the future. Especially those of us who have a penchant for retro gaming and reliving our childhood memories.

Being one of the best-selling handheld consoles of all time it is unsurprising there are so many great DS emulators on the market today, most of them free and open-source, so developers can improve the, designs whenever they want to.

Emulators will always be around and they give us the opportunity to replay our favourite games time and again that’s why they are so popular even if they can be unreliable and annoying to install sometimes.

Though they may not be quite as cool as the actual Nintendo DS console experience, an emulator is great fun.

Every gamer will have relied on an emulator at some point because they remembered a game they played once upon a time and no longer have the ability to play it on the original console. So, if you want to relive your youth and check out some of the best DS games of all time, this article is for you.

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An avid gamer, historian and all-round literature buff, Tracy is our go-to when it comes to using different devices. MacOS, iOS, Android, Windows, Linux or whatever else, Tracy's got a device that runs it (she's even got an old Blackberry laying around somewhere!).

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