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Dolphin - A GameCube and Wii Emulator

Homepage | Project Site | Forums | Wiki | Issue Tracker | Coding Style | Transifex Page

Dolphin is an emulator for running GameCube and Wii games on Windows,
Linux, macOS, and recent Android devices. It’s licensed under the terms
of the GNU General Public License, version 2 or later (GPLv2+).

Please read the FAQ before using Dolphin.

System Requirements


  • OS
    • Windows (7 SP1 or higher).
    • Linux.
    • macOS (10.12 Sierra or higher).
    • Unix-like systems other than Linux are not officially supported but might work.
  • Processor
    • A CPU with SSE2 support.
    • A modern CPU (3 GHz and Dual Core, not older than 2008) is highly recommended.
  • Graphics
    • A reasonably modern graphics card (Direct3D 11.1 / OpenGL 3.3).
    • A graphics card that supports Direct3D 11.1 / OpenGL 4.4 is recommended.


  • OS
    • Android (5.0 Lollipop or higher).
  • Processor
    • A processor with support for 64-bit applications (either ARMv8 or x86-64).
  • Graphics
    • A graphics processor that supports OpenGL ES 3.0 or higher. Performance varies heavily with driver quality.
    • A graphics processor that supports standard desktop OpenGL features is recommended for best performance.

Dolphin can only be installed on devices that satisfy the above requirements. Attempting to install on an unsupported device will fail and display an error message.

Building for Windows

Use the solution file Source/dolphin-emu.sln to build Dolphin on Windows.
Visual Studio 2019 16.3 or later is a hard requirement. Other compilers might be
able to build Dolphin on Windows but have not been tested and are not
recommended to be used. Git and Windows 10 SDK must be installed when building.

Make sure to pull submodules before building:

git submodule update --init

The “Release” solution configuration includes performance optimizations for the best user experience but complicates debugging Dolphin.
The “Debug” solution configuration is significantly slower, more verbose and less permissive but makes debugging Dolphin easier.

An installer can be created by using the Installer.nsi script in the
Installer directory. This will require the Nullsoft Scriptable Install System
(NSIS) to be installed. Creating an installer is not necessary to run Dolphin
since the Binary directory contains a working Dolphin distribution.

Building for Linux and macOS

Dolphin requires CMake for systems other than Windows. Many libraries are
bundled with Dolphin and used if they’re not installed on your system. CMake
will inform you if a bundled library is used or if you need to install any
missing packages yourself.

macOS Build Steps:

  1. mkdir build
  2. cd build
  3. cmake ..
  4. make

An application bundle will be created in ./Binaries.

Linux Global Build Steps:

To install to your system.

  1. mkdir build
  2. cd build
  3. cmake ..
  4. make
  5. sudo make install

Linux Local Build Steps:

Useful for development as root access is not required.

  1. mkdir Build
  2. cd Build
  3. cmake .. -DLINUX_LOCAL_DEV=true
  4. make
  5. ln -s ../../Data/Sys Binaries/

Linux Portable Build Steps:

Can be stored on external storage and used on different Linux systems.
Or useful for having multiple distinct Dolphin setups for testing/development/TAS.

  1. mkdir Build
  2. cd Build
  3. cmake .. -DLINUX_LOCAL_DEV=true
  4. make
  5. cp -r ../Data/Sys/ Binaries/
  6. touch Binaries/portable.txt

Building for Android

These instructions assume familiarity with Android development. If you do not have an
Android dev environment set up, see

If using Android Studio, import the Gradle project located in ./Source/Android.

Android apps are compiled using a build system called Gradle. Dolphin’s native component,
however, is compiled using CMake. The Gradle script will attempt to run a CMake build
automatically while building the Java code.


When Dolphin has been installed with the NSIS installer, you can uninstall
Dolphin like any other Windows application.

Linux users can run cat install_manifest.txt | xargs -d '\n' rm as root from the build directory
to uninstall Dolphin from their system.

macOS users can simply delete to uninstall it.

Additionally, you’ll want to remove the global user directory (see below to
see where it’s stored) if you don’t plan to reinstall Dolphin.

Command Line Usage

Usage: Dolphin [-h] [-d] [-l] [-e <str>] [-b] [-V <str>] [-A <str>]

  • -h, --help Show this help message
  • -d, --debugger Show the debugger pane and additional View menu options
  • -l, --logger Open the logger
  • -e, --exec= Load the specified file (DOL,ELF,WAD,GCM,ISO)
  • -b, --batch Exit Dolphin with emulator
  • -V, --video_backend= Specify a video backend
  • -A, --audio_emulation= Low level (LLE) or high level (HLE) audio

Available DSP emulation engines are HLE (High Level Emulation) and
LLE (Low Level Emulation). HLE is faster but less accurate whereas
LLE is slower but close to perfect. Note that LLE has two submodes (Interpreter and Recompiler)
but they cannot be selected from the command line.

Available video backends are “D3D” and “D3D12” (they are only available on Windows), “OGL”, and “Vulkan”.
There’s also “Null”, which will not render anything, and
“Software Renderer”, which uses the CPU for rendering and
is intended for debugging purposes only.

Sys Files

  • wiitdb.txt: Wii title database from GameTDB
  • totaldb.dsy: Database of symbols (for devs only)
  • GC/font_western.bin: font dumps
  • GC/font_japanese.bin: font dumps
  • GC/dsp_coef.bin: DSP dumps
  • GC/dsp_rom.bin: DSP dumps
  • Wii/clientca.pem: Wii network certificate
  • Wii/clientcacakey.pem: Wii network certificate
  • Wii/rootca.pem: Wii network certificate

The DSP dumps included with Dolphin have been written from scratch and do not
contain any copyrighted material. They should work for most purposes, however
some games implement copy protection by checksumming the dumps. You will need
to dump the DSP files from a console and replace the default dumps if you want
to fix those issues.

Wii network certificates must be extracted from a Wii IOS. A guide for that can be found here.

Folder Structure

These folders are installed read-only and should not be changed:

  • GameSettings: per-game default settings database
  • GC: DSP and font dumps
  • Maps: symbol tables (dev only)
  • Shaders: post-processing shaders
  • Themes: icon themes for GUI
  • Resources: icons that are theme-agnostic
  • Wii: default Wii NAND contents

Packaging and udev

The Data folder contains a udev rule file for the official GameCube controller
adapter and the Mayflash DolphinBar. Package maintainers can use that file in their packages for Dolphin.
Users compiling Dolphin on Linux can also just copy the file to their udev
rules folder.

User Folder Structure

A number of user writeable directories are created for caching purposes or for
allowing the user to edit their contents. On macOS and Linux these folders are
stored in ~/Library/Application Support/Dolphin/ and ~/.dolphin-emu
respectively, but can be overwritten by setting the environment variable
DOLPHIN_EMU_USERPATH. On Windows the user directory is stored in the My Documents
folder by default, but there are various way to override this behavior:

  • Creating a file called portable.txt next to the Dolphin executable will
    store the user directory in a local directory called “User” next to the
    Dolphin executable.
  • If the registry string value LocalUserConfig exists in
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Dolphin Emulator and has the value 1,
    Dolphin will always start in portable mode.
  • If the registry string value UserConfigPath exists in
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Dolphin Emulator, the user folders will be
    stored in the directory given by that string. The other two methods will be
    prioritized over this setting.

List of user folders:

  • Cache: used to cache the ISO list
  • Config: configuration files
  • Dump: anything dumped from Dolphin
  • GameConfig: additional settings to be applied per-game
  • GC: memory cards and system BIOS
  • Load: custom textures
  • Logs: logs, if enabled
  • ScreenShots: screenshots taken via Dolphin
  • StateSaves: save states
  • Wii: Wii NAND contents

Custom Textures

Custom textures have to be placed in the user directory under
Load/Textures/[GameID]/. You can find the Game ID by right-clicking a game
in the ISO list and selecting “ISO Properties”.