Dolphin: the Gamecube & Wii Emulator for Mac

Dec 2, 2010 - 63 Comments

gamecube emulator mac

Dolphin is probably the best Gamecube and Wii Emulator for Mac that exists, it’s open source and somewhat regularly updated so you won’t be stuck high and dry like the old GameCube Gcube emulator.

Dolphin supports playing both Wii and Gamecube discs and downloadable games, and it has your typical emulator features like save states, controller support, and various graphical enhancements such as anti-aliasing.

Update: Dolphin is now easier than ever to use, just download the precompiled version here, leaving the technical process below behind. You can still use the methods outlined below if you’d like, but it may be unnecessarily complicated just to get the Dolphin emulator running.

Getting Dolphin running requires a bit more technical knowledge than just downloading an application and installing it, you’ll need the following:

  • Xcode – this is on your Mac OS X installer disk or can be downloaded from Apple
  • MacPorts – MacPorts gives you access to tons of open source software that is ported over from the unix world
  • wxWidgets

The first thing you’ll need to do is download and install both Xcode and MacPorts, they are both pretty simple to install if you haven’t done so already.

Next you’ll need to use MacPorts to install some of the Dolphin dependencies on your Mac, the first is called SCons, which you can install by typing:
sudo port install scons

Next you need to install the aforementioned wxWidgets from their SVN repository:
svn co -r66144 wxWidgets

Then you have to configure the build environment, as follows:
cd wxWidgets/build
../configure --disable-shared --enable-image --enable-universal_binary --with-aui --with-cocoa \
--with-macosx-sdk=/Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.5.sdk --with-macosx-version-min=10.5

Finally you can compile and make wxWidgets:
make && sudo make install

Once all that is done, you can finally grab the latest Dolphin emulator source from the Google code repository:
svn co dolphin-emu
cd dolphin-emu

Then you use the previously installed SCons to build Dolphin:
scons verbose=true wxconfig=/usr/local/bin/wx-config

Now you should be done and you can finally launch Dolphin and emulate Gamecube and Wii games on your Mac. As I said, this is a somewhat laborious and technical process so the average Mac user might not want to bother. If you get confused along the way, you can checkout the GitHub code project for Dolphin, which provides installation instructions as well.

I have heard murmurings that Dolphin will come to the iPhone and iPad eventually too. With the Wii gesture games, this would be a natural fit, so let us cross our fingers that it happens.


Related articles:

Posted by: Matt Chan in Games


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Eliza Kris says:

    Great article with an excellent idea!Thank you

  2. Demire101 says:

    Hey guys can someone assist me with configuring the build environment properly? Currently I’m receiving this s a final message after using the configuration command mentioned about. checking for universal binary architectures… -arch ppc -arch i386 -arch x86_64
    configure: WARNING: Disabling precompiled headers due to universal binary build.
    checking for SDK directory /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.5.sdk… configure: error: not found
    See `config.log’ for more details.

  3. Dolphin User says:

    The Dolphin link in this article is to an unofficial third party website. Download Dolphin from the official site:

  4. steve says:

    Anyone know the.nest controller to use for a gamecube emulator on the mac? I try to use a ps3 and it wont work. I have trird 360 but the website to download the software to make the controller compatiable isnt working. Any advice?

  5. Mitch says:

    I’m actually tying to get twilight princess, i have dolphin installed and have dowlonaded the game twice from 2 different sources, wont work and i really dont know where to go from here, help!

  6. geekdude says:

    is there a ppc version? Ive wanted to run gamecube games on my G4 ever since I found out the processors are so similar

  7. libby says:

    so i downloaded the precompiled version, and some gc roms, but i cant get them to open in the emulator? do i need to do all of the technical stuff for the precompiled too??

  8. Kayla says:

    It closes as soon as it opens. :I

  9. Chris says:

    I checked out wxWidgets and I have the directory, but there’s no build subdirectory, so cd wxWidgets/build fails. Is this guide outdated by now?

  10. Oscar says:

    /Users/OM70/wxWidgets/build/bk-deps g++ -isysroot /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.7.sdk -mmacosx-version-min=10.7 -c -o corelib_utils_osx.o -I./.pch/wxprec_corelib -D__WXOSX_COCOA__ -DWXBUILDING -I/Users/OM70/wxWidgets/build/src/tiff/libtiff -I../src/tiff/libtiff -I../src/jpeg -I../src/png -I../src/regex -DwxUSE_BASE=0 -Wall -Wundef -Wunused-parameter -Wno-ctor-dtor-privacy -Woverloaded-virtual -Wno-deprecated-declarations -D_FILE_OFFSET_BITS=64 -I/Users/OM70/wxWidgets/build/lib/wx/include/osx_cocoa-unicode-static-2.9 -I../include -DWX_PRECOMP -O2 -fno-strict-aliasing -fno-common ../src/osx/utils_osx.cpp
    ../src/osx/utils_osx.cpp: In function ‘int wxDisplayDepth()’:
    ../src/osx/utils_osx.cpp:72: error: ‘CGDisplayBitsPerPixel’ was not declared in this scope
    make: *** [corelib_utils_osx.o] Error 1

    I keep having this error at “make && sudo make install”

    What do I do??? PLEASE :)

  11. OM70 says:

    Im having problems with configure the build environment..

    configure: WARNING: Disabling precompiled headers due to universal binary build.
    checking for SDK directory /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.5.sdk… configure: error: not found
    See `config.log’ for more details.

    HELP! what do i do?

    • Fysh says:

      This probably won’t be seen, but incase anyone else has this issue, here is the solution:

      You probably just don’t have the sdk in that location. Try changing the with-macosx-version-min and with-macosx-skd to

  12. Oddie says:

    Im having problems with getting .gcm files to load on the precompiled dolphin emulator for my mac. Ive downloaded a couple different .gcm’s and a few different versions of dolphin from this site but every time I click the .gcm file, dolphin opens along with another blank window labeled at the top “clearing code cache” and then quits unexpectedly. Do you have a solution to this or any insight into whats wrong?

    • J. says:

      I have the same

      EXACTLY the same. What is the solution for this?! Is there anybody who knows, ’cause I’ve been busy with this for already a few days and I haven’t made any progress at all…

      Every advice is appreciated

  13. Chupito says:

    Please do not use “–enable-universal_binary” with OS X 10.7 ! It’s 64x only !!!

    Use this :

    ../configure –disable-shared –enable-image –with-aui –with-cocoa \
    –with-macosx-sdk=/Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.7.sdk –with-macosx-version-min=10.7

  14. Land says:


    Everything was going fine when in the middle of:

    svn co dolphin-emu

    The prompt asked for:

    Authentication realm: Google Code Subversion Repository
    Password for ‘land’:

    What can I do in this regard?


  15. Inga says:


    I keep getting an error message: svn: Server sent unexpected return value (400 Bad Request) in response to OPTIONS request for ‘’

    when I attempt to install wxWidgets with svn co -r66144 wxWidgets

    Anyone know how to fix it?

  16. jbistekos says:

    scons: *** [Build/Darwin-i386-release/Source/Core/DolphinWX/Src/ARCodeAddEdit.o] Error 1

    keep getting this error when i do the last command (scons verbose=true wxconfig=/usr/local/bin/wx-config) help ?

    thanks in advance.

  17. Chris Robison says:

    Go here for compiled builds:

  18. AlliRae says:

    Is there any way to do this without xcode? Its not free unless your a developer. Is there another way to do it?

  19. chinabone says:

    yer!!!!!!!!! finally did it, only had a mac for like a week, dont know anything bout them, but i did it, had 2 go 2 the other link 2 build it thou. took me a good few hours but worth it. thanks. i got zelda for my first game. im so smart. :)

  20. Ravi says:

    I get the same error message as Abhi. Please help!!
    checking if C compiler works with SDK/version options… configure: error: no. Try a different SDK

    I have snow leopard, with xcode 4. so it doesn’t have macosx10.5.sdk, it has macosx10.6.sdk instead.

    what do i do??

  21. Austin Serio says:

    Is dolphine suposto take a super long time to compile/install? Its been like 1 hour 1/2………

  22. Abhi says:

    I have 10.6.7 + Xcode 4.0.1 setup. I am trying to configure wxWidgets and I get this error – checking if C compiler works with SDK/version options… configure: error: no. Try a different SDK

    What do I do?

  23. mikeru says:

    The Gamecube & Wii Emulator *for Mac*? I’m 100% sure it’s not only for Mac, and that’s what the title is telling me. We can deduce there’s a Mac version if it’s being posted on this site.

    btw, 10 FPS surely sounds playable… lol

  24. delarge says:

    Ended up going to a link provided earlier and downloaded latest emu from here:

    Got the following and it worked like a charm:

  25. delarge says:

    Yep, spent all day and then it fails on the last line with the same errors as others. Any solution?


  26. fallen angel says:

    Yup i confirm i’m getting the same error like Mewball. No fix?:(

  27. Is WxWidgets supposed to take forever to install? xD.

  28. Mewball says:

    Hello :)

    I keep getting this error whenever i install the last line of code D:

    /usr/local/include/wx-2.9/wx/aui/auibar.h:123: error: expected unqualified-id before ‘=’ token
    /usr/local/include/wx-2.9/wx/aui/auibar.h: In member function ‘void wxAuiToolBarItem::Assign(const wxAuiToolBarItem&)’:
    /usr/local/include/wx-2.9/wx/aui/auibar.h:157: error: expected unqualified-id before ‘=’ token
    /usr/local/include/wx-2.9/wx/aui/auibar.h: In member function ‘void wxAuiToolBarItem::SetId(int)’:
    /usr/local/include/wx-2.9/wx/aui/auibar.h:172: error: expected unqualified-id before ‘=’ token
    In file included from /usr/local/include/wx-2.9/wx/aui/aui.h:18,
    from Source/Core/DolphinWX/Src/Frame.h:27,
    from Source/Core/DolphinWX/Src/ConfigMain.cpp:36:
    /usr/local/include/wx-2.9/wx/aui/auibar.h: In constructor ‘wxAuiToolBarItem::wxAuiToolBarItem()’:
    /usr/local/include/wx-2.9/wx/aui/auibar.h:123: error: expected unqualified-id before ‘=’ token
    /usr/local/include/wx-2.9/wx/aui/auibar.h: In member function ‘void wxAuiToolBarItem::Assign(const wxAuiToolBarItem&)’:
    /usr/local/include/wx-2.9/wx/aui/auibar.h:157: error: expected unqualified-id before ‘=’ token
    /usr/local/include/wx-2.9/wx/aui/auibar.h: In member function ‘void wxAuiToolBarItem::SetId(int)’:
    /usr/local/include/wx-2.9/wx/aui/auibar.h:172: error: expected unqualified-id before ‘=’ token
    lipo: can’t figure out the architecture type of: /var/folders/O4/O46FF9SFEF0CidOWVxa78U+++TI/-Tmp-//ccU3ZhYc.out
    scons: *** [Build/Darwin-i386-release/Source/Core/DolphinWX/Src/ConfigMain.o] Error 1
    scons: building terminated because of errors.

    Help? I’m pretty new with all this stuff so i don’t really know what the errors mean >.<;;

  29. Mathew says:

    Got through everything except the last step; when I go to build, it does a few things and then starts giving me a handful of errors saying “error: expected unqualified-id before ‘=’ token”. The build then terminates and kicks me out to the prompt. Any ideas?

  30. Eric says:

    OK — Got everything compiled/installed and it looks good, but Gamecube discs wont mount on the Mac. Is there a trick to working with discs, or is it only for ROMs?

    Also, my eject button on the keyboard has stopped working since installing Dolphin. Would this be related?

    • Parakeet says:

      I believe that Dolphin only supports ROMs, I would not recommend using a mini-disc in a Mac, just use the Roms

      • Eric says:

        Poop. You might want to edit the line in the second paragraph that reads, “Dolphin supports playing both Wii and Gamecube discs and downloadable games.”

  31. […] el emulador open source de GameCube y Wii, para Snow Leopard. En realidad iba a transcribir las instrucciones dadas en osxdaily. Sin embargo, después de pegarme la paliza peleando con en MacPorts y compilando, he conocido la […]

  32. Roark says:

    I’m getting an error

    Configure: Error: invalid variable name –with-macosx-10.5-sdk

  33. Khal says:

    How would you play? keyboard and mouse?

  34. GunstarHero says:

    The last step doesn’t work for me.
    scons verbose=true wxconfig=/usr/local/bin/wx-config

    Can’t remember what the error said and I’m not at home so I can’t check right now. Pity though, wasted an hour on this.

    I don’t know why they can’t make pre-compiled versions available.

  35. Parakeet says:

    Be sure to have Xcode and MacPorts installed with all the dependencies

  36. PsychoX says:

    Now I am having no luck with scons verbose=true wxconfig=/usr/local/bin/wx-config.

  37. PsychoX says:

    Backed up and reformatted (other issues were present that necessitated this) and it worked this time around, but it failed to install zlib under my having an incompatible Xcode version (3.0) claiming that I need 3.1. 3.0 is what my OS x disk installed.

  38. Luen says:

    @Psycho X

    Try this

    export PATH=/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:$PATH

    Also if you have problems with java headers…

    sudo ln -s /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/CurrentJDK/Headers /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/CurrentJDK/Headers

    Then keep going as the tutorial says :)

    • Aaron says:

      I’ve installed Xcode 3.0 and MacPorts 1.9.2 on my macbook 2ghz Intel running Leopard.
      When I enter “sudo port install scons” into the terminal it returns “Unrecognized action “sudo”.
      When I enter “export PATH=/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:$PATH”, it returns with “Unrecognized action “export”.
      Same “Unrecognized action “sudo” error with the last recommended command as well.

      Not sure where to go from here.

      • Paul says:

        I think this answers your question, so try this:

        “You are running ports on interactive mode, and you are not in your system shell. The port program won’t recognize sudo as one of its commands, and I am guessing you didn’t run your port command with sudo so you won’t be able to do much, try the following:

        * Click on your terminal.

        * Press command + Q (command is the key left of your space bar)

        * Open your terminal once again and do not run anything on else but the command suggested:

        * Type: sudo port -v selfupdate

        If you get the same thing, you are still or again in Macports interactive session, type CTRL + C, or type quit.

        This answer is from:

  39. Psycho X says:

    This is not working for me. Terminal does not know what to do with the command “sudo port install scons”. I admit I don’t know what all this stuff means or how it’s all supposed to work. It seems like this guide is for more advanced users who know what all this stuff means.

  40. Parakeet says:

    this plus a USB controller and tv hookup = awesome

    it would be really great if you could use an iphone as a controller with it’s motion sensor too

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