Using MAME to setup your 68k Macintosh

You likely already know what MAME is, but if not, the simplest description is a multi-purpose emulator.   Most people use it to emulate old arcade systems and gaming consoles, but it also provide support for several of the 68k Macintosh Systems (search the page for mac.c).

For this blog entry I’m going to walk through setting up MAME to emulate a Macintosh Plus with the assumption your using MAME instead of Basilisk II because you want to initialize and partition an image file that you created from a physical drive, SD card etc.

Emulated Systems (2018-10-15)

Macintosh 512kemac512ke
Macintosh Classicmacclasc
Macintosh IImacii
Macintosh II (FDHD)mac2fdhd
Macintosh II (w/o 68851 MMU)maciihmu
Macintosh IIcimaciici
Macintosh IIcxmaciicx
Macintosh IIsimaciisi
Macintosh IIxmaciix
Macintosh Plusmacplus
Macintosh SEmacse
Macintosh SE (FDHD)macsefd
Macintosh SE/30macse30
Macintosh XLmacxl


  1. Can only use 400k and 800k floppy images.  Supports both RAW image files and Diskcopy 4.2 image files.
  2. Hard drive image files have to be compressed to .chd files before they can be use.
  3. And not really a limitation, more a warning.  MAME completely emulates the hardware so it can consume a lot of CPU compared to solutions like Basilisk II.

1. Download and install MAME

The latest versions for Windows, OSX and linux can be found on MAME’s site.

  1. Create a destination folder on your system that you will install MAME in.
  2. Download MAME
  3. Uncompress the .zip, .gz etc to your destination folder

2. Select and Download a ROM file

To run MAME as a Macintosh System you’ll need to get the proper ROM files that represent the system you want to emulate.  Luckily some of these ROM files are now available on the internet archive and can be used for personal/research purposes.

I’ve personally tested several of these files with MAME, but for this example I’m going to use the Macintosh Plus

  1. Download the file from the internet archive (this is a bundled zip file, from other sources you’d need the BIOS for the separate floppy bios file and the keyboard bios file)
  2. Copy/move this .zip file to your the rom folder in your MAME folder (from section 1)

3. Compress your hard drive “image file”

I’m assuming you’ve already read my entry on creating and working with image files, and you want to mount one of my image files to boot from so you can initialize and partition a blank image file you’ve created from one of your hard drives or removable drives (or an SD card / CF card for an emulated drive).

MAME expects all drive images to be compressed as .CHD files, so you need to:

  1. Open the terminal / command line window.
  2. Go to the MAME folder
  3. Use chdman with the correct input and output options to compress each image file chdman createhd -i <inputfile> -o <outputfile>
  4. Wait… can take some time to compress.

4. Run MAME

  1. Rename you image file you want to boot from to systemdisk.chd (some other names will work too, use mame64 macplus mac_hdd to get a list)
  2. Open the terminal / command line window.
  3. Go to the MAME folder
  4. For Windows run MAME 64 macplus -hard1 systemdisk.chd -hard2 <imagetoinitialize.chd>
  5. Wait… can take some time to boot

5. Setup and Initialize your image file

I’ve created a separate entry on how to initialize and partition a drive / image file using the patched version of HD SC setup that supports both apple branded and generic drives.

6. Copying your image file back on to the source media

Before you copy the image file back on to your physical drive, SD card etc, you need to uncompress the .chd file.

  1. Open the terminal / command line window.
  2. Go to the MAME folder
  3. Use chdman with the correct input and output options to compress each of the image files chdman extracthd -i <inputfile> -o <outputfile>
  4. Wait… can take some time to compress.
  5. copy the image file back on to your physical drive, SD card etc

4 thoughts on “Using MAME to setup your 68k Macintosh

  1. You made a mistake. There is no createdhd for : chdman createdhd -i -o
    It is createhd. It doesen’t create a output file on windows 7 ultimate and if it was for windows xp or older, say so.

      • I observed that your 2gb image boots fine on mame using a macse rom. But when I transffered files to it and updated to full 6.0.8 via basilisk ii method of using the 2gb drive as a secondary drive it didnt work with mame. it says invalid parent. have you tried this out ?

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