How to Play SNES ROMs On Your Computer (SNES9X)

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) is the game console that preceded the NES console. With a number of improvements to the system, games became more intricate, complex, and sophisticated. In this guide, we show you how to play the ROM images on your computer.

This guide focuses exclusively on using the SNES9X emulator.

The actual emulator can be somewhat difficult to find at times, but one mirror exists here. Pick the version appropriate for your operating system and download the files. Once done, find a convenient place on your hard drive and create a folder for all your SNES needs.

In that SNES folder, create another folder for your SNES9X emulator and a folder for your ROMs. Will this level of file management isn’t entirely necessary, it will help to keep things nice and tidy should you decide to do something like use a different emulator.

Once done, extract the contents of the archive containing your emulator into your SNES9x folder. When done, go into the SNES9x folder and double click the SNES9x program (in Windows, this ends in “.exe”). If you don’t use a lot of programs and you are on Windows, you’ll probably wind up with the following error:


This is a very common error for new users who are using newer Windows operating systems (i.e. Windows 7 or Windows 8). To fix this problem, simply go over to the Microsoft website and download and install Directx9. When you have finished installing this, SNES9x should function properly without kicking out that missing DLL file error.

After this, place your ROMs in the ROMs folder you created if you haven’t already done so. While SNES9x features its own ROM directory, it’s best to simply keep the ROMs directory separate so that you can point multiple emulators to a simple and easy to find directory if need be.

When done, open up the emulator:


From here, you’ll want to point the emulator to where your ROMs directory is located. To do that, simply click on the File drop-down menu. From there, click on “Load Game…” (alternatively, you can simply use the speed key CTRL+O.


At that point, just browse to your ROMs directory and load a ROM. By the time the game starts playing, SNES9x will remember which directory your ROMs are located, so you won’t have to keep browsing through directories every time.

Next, we want to configure out controller. To do that, click on the “Input” drop-down menu and click on “Input Configuration…” (alternatively, you can use the speed key “Alt+F7”):


A new window will appear that allows you to customize the controls for your virtual controller:


There’s really two general rules to follow. The first rule is to select controls that are comfortable for you. The second rule is to make sure all of the box backgrounds are white by the time you are done (like the above). If the background changes to blue, it means that there are now two buttons on the SNES controller that use the same key on your keyboard. These instructions are on the screen itself, but green means that you have that space currently selected. If you select a key for one control, the selected box will then go to the next slot for you. If you click on “OK” with a space with a green background, chances are, things will be fine. Just open up the configuration window after to make sure everything is white after.

Finally, you’ll need to find out your other speed keys (and customize if need be). To look up your current setup for speed keys, simply click on the “Input” drop-down menu and click on “Customize Hotkeys…” (alternatively, you can use the speed key “Alt+F9”):


From there, you’ll see the following window:


Generally speaking, I find that the defaults here are sufficient for my needs, but if you need to change anything, you can adjust them exactly like how you would modify game controls.

When done, click OK if you changed anything. Otherwise, click “Cancel” if you were merely looking at how the keys were mapped on your keyboard.

That’s it! You should be ready to go!

One thing to note: This version doesn’t run every game perfectly. If you run into issues (i.e. clicking noise in Top Gear 3000), then use a more recently created testbuild. These Test builds can be found here. While the test build might not have perfect compatibility with every game ever created, it appears as though this version is more compatible than the last stable release. Still, this only affects a small number of games.

Happy gaming!

11 thoughts on “How to Play SNES ROMs On Your Computer (SNES9X)”

  1. I tried all the steps but when I try loading the games, my screen freezes for a second and then nothing else happens. Please help me if you can.

    1. A few of the times that happened to me was because the ROMS themselves were corrupted, not sure if it’s an entirely different problem or not

  2. when i try to load up roms they don’t show up. The roms folder will not open and in the window to the right there is nothing it will not show up

    1. Sounds like something is interfering with the operation of the emulator then. Two possibilities come to my mind. Did you install the emulator in the “Program Files” folder? If so, there might be a permissions issue. Try installing the emulator in another folder to see if the problem persists. Alternatively, the emulator might not have installed correctly and you might want to re-install it to see if that resolves the issue.

  3. Hi everyone, I have installed & reinstalled SNES & DirectX9 but my problem does not resolve. I cannot use jump in any game, the character simply looks up.
    Please help !!!

    1. This sounds like a key mapping issue. Are you using a SNES controller via USB or are you using the keyboard? If you are using the keyboard, try mapping your keys again as whatever you are using for jump may be mapped to up on the D-Pad.

  4. Hello fellow game geeks!
    I am having a problem playing a game using snes9x. Everything loads just fine, but I am not able to use my keyboard to play (I went right for Final Fantasy 2, love it!). Any ideas what is wrong?

    1. Open the emulator, then press Alt+F7. You should be able to customize the keys. This can be accessed via Input > Input Configuration. Also, make sure the “Enabled” box is ticked for Joypad #1 (this is controller 1).

      Hope this helps!

      1. Sorry for the late reply back. I fixed the problem the day after I posted my issue. I forgot what I did, but I think it was the “Enabled” box for Joypad #1.

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