Dolphin is a GameCube/Wii emulator, allowing you to play games for these two platforms on PC, with improvements.
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Dolphin - A GameCube and Wii Emulator

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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 is officially supported, but Vista SP2 might also work).
    • Linux.
    • macOS (10.9 Mavericks 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 10.0 / OpenGL 3.0).
    • A graphics card that supports Direct3D 11 / 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. Dolphin VR now requires at least Visual Studio 2015 Update 2 (get the free Community version). It may build on Visual Studio 2017, but I haven't tested it. It no longer works on Visual Studio 2013. Previous versions don't support many C++ features that we use. Git must be installed when building. I recommend: If using Visual Studio 2017, Windows 10 SDK 10.0.15063.0 must be installed (it probably is already).

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.

Oculus Rift

To build with Oculus Rift support, you need the Oculus Rift SDK 0.4.2 or above. Copy the LibOVR folder from the Oculus Rift SDK into the Externals folder, and clean and rebuild. The presense or absense of the LibOVR folder changes the HAVE_OCULUSSDK preprocessor definition. Oculus Rift features are not officially supported by the Dolphin team.

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 Opens the debugger
  • -l, --logger Opens the logger
  • -e, --exec= Loads 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 fast but often less accurate while LLE is slow but close to perfect. Note that LLE has two submodes (Interpreter and Recompiler), which cannot be selected from the command line.

Available video backends are "D3D" (only available on Windows) and "OGL". There's also "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. 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".