Tutorial - Running MAME on Mac OS X - Part 1

Darius on MAME

MAME is a program that “runs” or emulates a large library of arcade games. You can run MAME using OpenEmu’s Experimental version or use the “official” version which is called SDL MAME for OS X compiled by r0ni aka @sdlmame_osx. In part 1, we’ll go over how to run SDL MAME at the very barest bones.

Note: SDL MAME is not user friendly; it’s not a matter of double-clicking and expecting it to run. It’s actually a commandline program that you run by typing in commands via the Terminal. Also, avoid MAME ports named MacMAME and MAME for OS X. They’re easy to use but they’re old, unsupported and abandoned.


Install SDL 2

This is a multimedia library that lets MAME display graphics, sounds and read keyboards and game controllers.

  1. Download the SDL 2 Runtime Library for Mac OS X (Direct Link).
  2. Open the DMG and you should see the SDL file.
  3. On your Mac, open the /Library/Frameworks folder:
  4. Go to the Finder.
  5. In the menubar click Go > Go to folder…
  6. Type /Library/Frameworks
  7. Copy the SDL2 from the DMG to this folder


  1. Download SDL MAME for OSX. You will want to download the highest version that is 64-bit. (You will also see links to MESS which is a computer and console emulator).
  2. Unzip it and you’ll see a bunch of folders and files.
  3. One of the files extracted is named mame64. This is the SDL MAME program. Usually you would need to open a Terminal, navigate to your MAME folder and type ./mame64 to launch it. To make it easier, download M64 and unzip it into your MAME folder. M64 is a small app that you can double-click to run SDL MAME without opening the Terminal.

M64 app icon

This is the M64 app icon.

Game installation


  1. Get games.
  2. Make a roms folder if it doesn’t exist. Put the games (zips) in the roms folder. Do not unpack the zips.
  3. Double-click M64 app we downloaded above in step 3 and you should be able to run the games from the menu.

Mame Menu

This is the very featureless rom selection menu. Use the arrow keys and press enter to load a rom.

Game Info

Once the rom loads this screen shows up. Press left then right to continue.


Yay! Pac-man. Because this is an arcade game you need to insert coins. Do this by pressing 5. Then press 1 to start.

Where to get games?

There are free public domain roms here. Or you can find a torrent on archive.org. The version numbers correspond to the version of MAME. The higher the version number the better - they don’t have to the match your version of MAME but you’ll have a chance of it not running. Version 0.151 is the latest available at the time of this article.

That’s it for part one. Next we’ll make choosing and running games a bit easier and customize your experience.

Written on March 6, 2015