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Is there any Nintendo Switch emulator for Mac?

You'll still need some Nintendo hardware.

Published onMarch 21, 2023

Let’s be clear, upfront: emulators have dubious legality at best, but in some cases they may offer the best way of playing a game, even when you own the console. Below, we’ll explore one way of playing Nintendo Switch games on a Mac.


Yes. One option is Ryujinx, an open-source project that supports Intel- and Apple Silicon-based Macs. You'll need a hacked Switch to get games running.


Is there any Nintendo Switch emulator for Mac?

Metroid Dread

Yes. Ryujinx is an open-source emulator, available not just for macOS but Windows and Linux. It’s maintained by a team of less than a dozen people.

Ryujinx features

Ryujinx has a few notable features, such as:

  • Graphics enhancements (scaling, anisotropic filtering, etc.)
  • Mod and cheat support
  • Vulkan or OpenGL rendering
  • Motion control support (including both Nintendo and third-party controllers)
  • Amiibo emulation

Compatible games

You’ll want to check the official compatibility list for games marked “playable,” but the Ryujinx team says that about 2,700 should work. There are still troubles with some major titles — most notably The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — but others are running fine, such as Metroid Dread and Bayonetta 2.

System requirements

The biggest requirement is that you need a hacked Switch, from which you’ll obtain things like keys, games, and/or firmware. You can’t just run a downloaded game independently.

Macs require at least 8GB of RAM, macOS 11, and a GPU supporting Vulkan or OpenGL 4.5. Both Intel- and Apple Silicon-based Macs will work. As is usual with gaming, you’ll get smoother performance the more powerful your Mac’s CPU and GPU are.

How to get Ryujinx for Mac

You can download the Mac client from the Ryujinx website. That’s just the beginning, though. You’ll need to follow the Setup and Configuration Guide on GitHub, which includes instructions not just for the emulator but for hacking your Switch and dumping its keys and firmware files. It’s an involved process — you might want to set aside an evening getting ready to play.


The emulator should be safe, as should the games, as long as they’re from your own library. We can’t vouch for any games downloaded from pirate sites.

Yes. You can play with other Ryujinx users over the internet via Ryujinx LDN.

Yes. You can also configure button mapping as needed.

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