How to run emulators on the Steam Deck

The Steam Deck is a very emulator friendly system and with a few tips and tricks you can learn how to use emulators on the Steam Deck in just a few minutes. When Valve designed: the steam deck, knew that players would be interested in emulation to recreate their favorite gaming systems of yesteryear to enjoy some timeless classics. That’s why the Steam Deck allows you to pick and use an emulator right out of the box.

Disclaimer: Emulation is a legal gray area as the ROM files to play the games are rarely available from legal sources. Digital Trends does not condone the illegal downloading of games you do not own, nor can we guarantee the veracity and security of any ROM files you download from unofficial sources.

How to run an emulator on the Steam Deck

Step 1: Turn on your Steam Deck. When it is active, hold the Current button in the top right corner of the Steam Deck for a few seconds. When a menu opens, choose Switch to desktop† This will reboot the Steam Deck in Desktop Mode, where you can make important changes. It’s usually easier to navigate desktop mode if you connect the Steam Deck to a larger monitor and mouse/keyboard, but it’s not entirely necessary.

Steam Deck apps.

Step 2: The Steam Deck already has many emulators waiting to be downloaded in the Discover app. However, it quickly gets complicated there. Instead, we recommend using a shortcut, specifically the EmuDeck program. EmuDeck takes care of all the details on the backend and installs and configures emulators — most notably RetroArch, a front-end infrastructure that works well with the Steam Deck and one we recommend for emulation. Go to this webpage and select the Download app button to get started. If following the links is difficult, the URL is:

EmuDeck install button.

Step 3: Open the EmuDeck file in desktop mode and run it to install the program. EmuDeck opens a wizard that guides you through the installation process. Follow the instructions carefully. Finally, you will be prompted for the Steam ROM Manager, which should make EmuDeck easy. When prompted about overriding emulators, you can choose to overwrite them all, unless you have previously modified with an emulator in the list.

Emudeck runs on steam deck.

Retro Game Corps

Step 4: If prompted, select: Examplethen choose generate app list. EmuDeck will now work on creating a library of classic games plus images and other important data. When it’s done, select Save App to complete the process. This could take a few minutes or more, so be patient if it looks like the deck is working through it.

Step 5: Close your apps and choose the Return to game mode icon in the top left corner. In your Steam library you should now see a new Emulation collection with the EmulationStation app ready to use.

Emulation Station in Steam Deck.

Step 6: If you have any doubts about managing ROM files, don’t hesitate to open Steam ROM Manager again and check configurations, compatibility and more. Keep in mind that a lot is automated here, but you can choose which emulated consoles you want to see, what they look like, which games you want and more. EmuDeck should have done most of the work for you, but you still have customization options.

Steam ROM manager.

Retro Game Corps

Step 7: If you plan to keep your ROMs on a separate SD card for easier cataloging, make sure to purchase an SD card, configure it on your Steam Deck, and label it appropriately so you know what’s going on. in your waiting. SD cards that use Ext4 or Btrfs file systems are compatible with EmuDeck. Make sure the SD card is installed and ready to use before running EmuDeck.

The RetroArch menu.

Step 8: If your deck or an external controller is acting weird or isn’t mapped correctly based on what you remember from the game, you can always change it. For example, RetroArch has a Controls section in the settings where you can remap buttons and save your configuration for each game. With a little tinkering you can go a long way.

Once you have your favorite games up and running, why not give it a try play them on your big TV screen† You can also switch to the Steam Deck desktop mode for even more refined control.

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