Snes9x is an open source SNES emulator for Windows, macOS and Linux

Jan 28, 2021
Updated • Feb 2, 2021

Looking for a way to play some good old SNES classics?  Well, you can play them on your computer. All you need is a good emulator, like Snes9x, and a few ROMs, e.g. homebrew ROMs or ROMs of games that you own a copy of physically.

It is a portable application, and comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The interface is nice and simple, use the menubars to select various options. Click on File > Load game and select the game that you want to play. The emulator supports SFC files, but it can also open ZIP archives that contain the game files.

Your recently accessed games are listed under the file menu. The stable version of the program has 10 save game position slots (savestate), these are numbered as 0 - 9, which you can use to save your gameplay at any moment without relying on the in-game save system. The prerelease version has 10 banks, each of which have 10 save slots.

Snes9x has a built-in recording option that can be accessed from the file menu. Set a file name, and then the compression settings and hit OK. The emulator will record the gameplay until you go back to the menu and click on stop recording. The video is saved in the AVI format. While the recorded video retains the audio, the program mutes the sound while recording, so playing a game when you record it is slightly difficult.

There is one more video recording mode in Snes9x, and this one is called "Movie Record". But it creates an .SMV video which is playable with the emulator, but may not work with your regular video players. You can also capture screenshots from the emulator's File menu.

Moving to the Emulation menu, you can set the program to jump frames, add ROM hacks and choose some advanced options like rewind time, Hi-Res AVI recording, etc. The emulator automatically pauses the game, when you switch to a different window, you can toggle this option off. Snes9x supports cheats if you want to unlock/bypass something in a game. The emulator features NetPlay which you can use by entering the server configuration details manually.

To view the Snes9x controls, select Input > Input Configuration. The default controls are fairly easy to get used to.

  • Up - Up Arrow
  • Down - Down Arrow
  • Left- Left Arrow
  • Right- Right Arrow
  • B - C
  • A - V
  • Y - X
  • X - D
  • Start - Space
  • Select - Enter
  • L - A
  • R - S

Don't like the keyboard setup? You may customize the hotkeys, and there are several more available for other functions like save states, full screen mode (Alt-Enter), etc.

Adjust the playback rate, buffer length, channel, change the output device and customize the audio settings from the Sound menu.

You can switch to full screen mode, hide the menu bar from the Video Menu. Click on Display Configuration to access the advanced video settings. There are a lot of options here including output method (video renderer), image processing (quality), frame skipping, shader, aspect ratio etc.

HQ4x for example will make the graphics sharper. If you face issues with screen tearing, enabling V-Sync will fix it.

Though the latest stable version of Snes9x is from 2019, the program is actively developed. You can get the latest Nightly builds (prerelease versions), from the AppVeyor page (Click on the OS > Artifacts and download the ZIP). The screenshots you see here are actually from the latest nightly version, though it still has the version number displayed as 1.60.

When it comes to performance, Snes9x is the best compared to Higan or BSNES, though the latter two are better if you have a powerful computer. If you're interested in Higan or BSNES, you can find the last releases from Byuu (Near) on GitHub. SNES9x works fine on low-end computers aka Potato PCs, so if you have a spare computer lying around, you can turn it into a retro gaming device.

Snes9x is also available as a Libretro core for Retroarch if you want to use that emulator. If you want to game on your Android phone, you can select the core from the Retroarch mobile app, or use a dedicated one like Snes9x+.


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  1. Christian said on May 1, 2021 at 7:09 pm

    Great article, but I have a correction to issue, & that is Snes9x is *not* an ‘open source’ SNES emulator, so you should amend that. Its source code may be publicly available for others to review & reimpliment, but as its custom licensing strictly prohibits commercial redistribution (i.e. its terms & conditions ban selling it)–limiting user-developers’ freedom/liberty even if only in that small way–Snes9x falls categorically outside of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) industry recognised Open Source Definition (OSD). Proof right below.

    The foreword of the OSD reads: ‘Open source doesn’t just mean access to the source code. The distribution terms of open-source software must comply with the following criteria:’, & the first sentence of point 1. of the OSD reads: ‘The license shall not restrict any party from selling . . . the software’. Well that’s what Snes9x does, therefore it isn’t open source.


  2. MR MUSTASHE said on January 30, 2021 at 1:59 am

    Games have been developed and used by “Intelligence Agencies” to spy on unwitting and hapless individuals and groups since the beginning of the Net!… and that’s why I’ve removed every game from my system, and will never download a game ever again!

  3. Lecquio said on January 29, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    I used more zsnes

  4. empirefall said on January 29, 2021 at 3:37 am

    “Snes9x is an open source SNES emulator” – for an emulator that has been around for as this one has, is there anyone that does not know this already

    I used to love playing SNES games on the Dell Axim X51v back in the day, now-a-days, I typically play SNES games through RetroArch both on the PC and Smartphone

    1. Jeff M.S. said on January 29, 2021 at 11:44 am

      What in the world is an SNES? Google tells me some Nintendo game console before the Windows 9x era. Interesting. Will try.

  5. Mo said on January 29, 2021 at 1:53 am

    Oh man I was playing ROM on my Windows 98 machine back in 99, with a sidewinder gamepad. It was great!

  6. Gabriel said on January 28, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    bsnes for life

    1. Ryan F said on January 29, 2021 at 4:45 pm

      Snes9x is still pretty good but I gotta agree with bsnes. Not only did it smash my paradigm of what emulation could be in terms of accuracy and video game preservation, but its author did so much good for the emulation and preservation communities. Terrible shame what some disgusting evil people did to him and his associates.

  7. Croatoan said on January 28, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    RetroPie is the best.

  8. Dave said on January 28, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    I’ve used SNES9X for years. It’s a great emulator.

  9. Yuliya said on January 28, 2021 at 6:09 pm

    I’ve been using Snes9x for.. more than a decade. Great software. Also I use Snes9x EX+ for Android!

  10. Tommi Raulahti said on January 28, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    snes9x is very very old (first version released 1998) simulator which I used to use long time ago with some ancient hardware … if I remember correctly, I managed to run it under HP-UX after quite long hacking to get it to compile first)… somewhere near year 2000 or so… it was slow but it did work.
    Since then, it have been evolved quite nicely to mature and very accurate. I can highly recommend it, best of it’s kind.

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