Atari800MacX Atari 8 Bit Emulation on Mac – Overcome Rom Loading Glitch

The Atari800MacX emulator is the best way to get going with Atari 8 Bit emulation on your Mac OSX system. It’s easy to get started, but you may encounter a glitch when loading disk images. Not everyone experiences this problem, but I did on my Mac OS X Yosemite machine. Here’s what I did to overcome it.

Follow the basic instructions to download and install the emulator. Make sure to locate all the necessary OS roms needed to operate all of the emulation options. You can locate them by simply Googling the names of the files. The files you need are:


You’ll want to make sure you have those in place in the OSRoms directory that is provided by the emulator install.

From there, you’ll want to locate your first disk image. There are many emulator rom sites out there, some of questionable quality, but many that are stellar, high quality and easy to use. Find them easily with a simple search in Google for “Atari 8 bit roms” and download your favorite title.

Downloaded Atari 8 bit roms are actually “disk images” with a file extension of .ATR and they go in the “Disks” directory provided by the emulator install.

When attempting to start up emulation of a ROM images, I was encountering difficulty. I would insert a rom disk image into drive D1 and perform a coldstart, but I wouldn’t see anything on the screen. I managed to overcome this problem by following these steps consistently:

1 – Activate the DISABLE BASIC button. This ensures that you’ll boot from disk when the emulated Atari system starts.
2 – Watch for activity on the disk drive in the Atari Media window. You’ll see sectors being counted on the disk drive when it boots for the first time.
3 – If you see no activity on the screen, change the screen scale in the Atari Media window. For example, change the screen scale from 1X Scale to 2X Scale. Upon change, you’ll likely notice your game/program is actually loading.
4 – Be mystified by the strange glitch, but get over it and enjoy your experience.

Atari800MacX is a terrific emulator produced as a result of a generous donation of time by a hardworking individual. Please visit their website at and consider donating if you use and enjoy their software!

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  1. Michael Jackson on December 10, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Hi there- Great video; brought back nostalgic tears! What version of Mac OS X does it run on?

  2. Bob Ramakers on December 10, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    Hey there, i have been trying to set up the emulator using the info of your (very good) video. I kinda have it up and running. But there is no sound. Every time I go to the preferences > Atari > and try to ENABLE the sound, the emulator crashes (closes unexpectedly). Can you or anybody help me with this issue. I am running High Sierra V 10.13.2 on my mac

  3. ROCKFORD C64 on December 10, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    Nice one thanks for that. I will have to give it a go.

  4. joebonsaipoland on December 10, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    Great stuff – I should never have thrown away my original Atari 800 and drives!

  5. Alex Santos on December 10, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    If you could make more videos on best practices and other options for this huge emulator it would be great. I look forward to your future Atari specific videos! Thanks.

  6. Alex Santos on December 10, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    So that’s the issue? Change from 3x or whatnot to 2x. Bizarre. Thank you!

  7. FilCanJay on December 10, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    Awesome. Going to try to find Karateka, Arkanoid, Boulderdash, Arkhon I and II, Spy vs. Spy, Karate Champ, Summer Games, Donkey Kong, Tetris, Zaxxon, Xevious. Aww endless fun. I sort of miss these games.

  8. Marc Gorelick on December 10, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks very much for this post. Atari800MacX is by far the best Atari 8-bit emulator out there, and this glitch was making it impossible to use. I don’t know if I’d have ever managed to find this workaround by myself.

    For those who want to just know what the workaround is: for me (and the OP), the display would not change from the initial "Notepad" screen after the disk image booted in the emulator, although you could see disk activity. The workaround the OP came up with is to change the screen scaling to a different value, which brought the emulator screen to life. If Google brought you here because your emulator doesn’t work in El Capitan, just boot your Atari disk image, change the screen scaling, and change it back…all will be well.

  9. Jeff Hyson on December 10, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    I cannot get the emulator running on Sierra. Never get the "Ready" prompt. I get "Emulation Halted". If I try to load a ROM, I get an "unrecoverable error". Any suggestions?

  10. stefan densmore on December 10, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Yeah, I don’t experience the issue on Lion, but I do on Yosemite. Note that the system requirements don’t claim that Atari800MacX works beyond 10.7. Thank you for the video — I presumed it just wasn’t working on my system. Clearly it still works (albeit with a glitch) on 10.10.5

  11. Steve [AtariCrypt] on December 10, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Cool video. I downloaded the ROMs but I still had to go into the Prefs and manually tell the program where they were located, which was odd. Worked after that…

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