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Getting the Emulator version R38 installed on a MAC

Edmond D

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I suggest you use the online Emulator FIRST (can be skipped if desired.)

Try out the emulator online here -  https://www.commanderx16.com/emulator/x16emu.html It’s quick and easy and gets you playing with the prototype system with a single click. Go ahead and type in:


20 GOTO 10


If you want to try out some of the great software for the X16 that has been developed, browse the downloads https://www.commanderx16.com/forum/index.php?/files/, select a program and then click on the “Try it now” button.

I mention the above since it will work on your MAC with little fuss and no significant effort on your part. It may leave you content, or firm up your enthusiasm to get the emulator installed and working on your machine. See the next item below for the detailed install notes.

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WARNING - these instructions are somewhat verbose. They are posted with the intent to help, but can’t cover EVERYTHING that you might require to get the emulator running. Like any information on the internet, please use the information below at your own risk. The ideal case it all just works and you’ll never have to come back and read this post again.

The hope is that these instructions will take you about 30 minutes read and complete the install.

This procedure was developed on a Mac Mini 2018 3Ghz 6 Core i5 running macOS Big Sur 11.5.1 and covers the R38 release. It may work for future releases of the emulator.

Here are the steps you need to do in short, followed by a little more description:

  1. Install Homebrew
  2. Install  SDL2
  3. Install the CX16 Emulator


1 Install Homebrew

Homebrew is a package installer - a software tool that makes adding capabilities to your system easy. It is installed using the MAC’s Terminal app. You can find Terminal using Launchpad in the Utils group.

Navigate to the webpage https://brew.sh to copy the line of text for Install Homebrew (they have a clipboard button at the end of the line.) Start a Terminal window. Paste the line of text and the install will start. You’ll most likely be propped for your admin password a couple of times as it progresses. There will be text output in the terminal window documenting the steps taken, much of it may seem strange. You’re looking for the line “==> Installation successful!” If you don’t get that message, save the output of the terminal window to a text file and then consult https://github.com/Homebrew/discussions/discussions for a possible solution. Without Homebrew installed the next step cannot be completed.

If you want to know more about Terminal & Homebrew, see



Or consult your favourite search engine.


2 Install  SDL2

The next step is to install SDL2 - a software package that enables the Emulator to access your MAC’s hardware.

Like the first step you use the Terminal to do this installation. See https://formulae.brew.sh/formula/sdl2 for the line you’ll need to enter. There will be more output in the Terminal window. My install ended with the lines:

Pouring sdl2--2.0.14_1.big_sur.bottle.tar.gz

🍺  /usr/local/Cellar/sdl2/2.0.14_1: 91 files, 5.1MB

Your install may state different version numbers. At the time of writing I updated to version 2.0.16 by issuing the command “brew install sdl2” again. You might want to update once in a while, but it isn’t required by the emulator as far as I know.




3 Install the CX16 Emulator

Navigate to https://www.commanderx16.com/forum/index.php?/files/file/25-commander-x16-emulator-winmaclinux/ in your browser. Download the Mac version x16emu_mac-r38.zip. Extract the zip via a double click. Move the extracted folder to be a sub directory of your Applications folder (Macintosh HD/Applications.)

Note that the folder already contains a compiled copy of the rom.bin file. You don’t have to figure out how to compile it, that work has been done for you.

To start the emulator, right or control click on x16emu. Your security settings may prevent it from running, if so consult https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202491 to allow it to run.

You’ll notice that a new Terminal window opens displaying the command used to start the emulator. You can manually start the emulator from the Terminal application which allows one to specify the many options listed in the Starting section of the emulator’s User Guide. 

Once you got it installed, examine the documentation in the docs sub folder (/Applications/x16emu_mac-r38/docs) Also at the information on https://www.commanderx16.com/forum/index.php?/files/category/8-official-docs/. Look through the X16 Emulator User Guide to discover how to benefit from the many features of the emulator. There is a lot of technical documentation, don’t panic if some of the information doesn’t make sense to you at this time.

Congratulations! The X16 emulator should now be installed and ready for you. If you found these instructions helpful, just let me know via a reaction to this post. If there is anything unclear, start a new post in https://www.commanderx16.com/forum/index.php?/forum/5-x16-software-support/ and perhaps I or another member of the community can help you.



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A Little Background on the Above

While computers are everywhere these days, the specific knowledge on getting the emulator to run on a modern MAC has been a trial for me. I’m attempting to address this problem problem with this thread. It’s a huge internet, and even just a big slice for just the X16 - one can’t just sit down one evening, read everything on the this retro computer and be good to go by sunrise. 🙂

My intent was to be as helpful as possible for the beginner. My hope is that these instructions help those who are fans of the 8 bit era enjoy the X16. Remember that not everyone who sat in front of a early computer became a programmer, hardware engineer or even a geek 🙂  

Now probably the people needing this information are smart - “into” computers in some way. They probably have a lot of knowledge, but not a lot of experience with the software packages used to get the emulator running.  That’s OK, the point of this post is to give them just enough information to be successful in getting the X16 Emulator on their machine. As mentioned, it should be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them. It was for me. 

While I’m not an expert any of these packages I did get the emulator to run after some trial and error which I hope others can can avoid using these steps. 

Finally if you are an expert reading this thread thanks for reading it all. If I’ve missed something or mis-stated anything let me know via a private message and I’ll edit the post to correct my mistake. The last thing I want is to mislead anyone.

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