Atari ST Emulation Guide

There are a handful of Atari ST emulators, and some of them are really good and easy to use. My choice here is Hatari, which works very well and it is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Download and Installation

You can download Hatari for your OS here. There is no conventional installer; you just need to unzip the Hatari zip file in a folder of your choice. On Windows, the emulator executable is the hatari.exe. Don’t run it yet.

As usual on most of the emulators, you need a ROM image in order to make it boot. Hatari distribution provides the EmuTOS image which is a open source replacement for the Atari TOS. Since our objective is to have the experience of an actual Atari ST, I prefer to use the Atari TOS version 2.06, which can be easily find on websites like EmuParadise. From there, I’ve got the ZIP file and unzipped it into the same folder Hatari is. Although this is not mandatory, I think it makes easier for the tutorial if everything is place on the same spot.

The first time you run Hatari, an empty/gray windows will be displayed, and after several seconds, if you don’t press F12, it will boot the default EmuTOS image.

Even it it was loaded, it is time to configure it properly to run Atari TOS 2.06. First, press F12 to bring up the initial configuration screen:

Hatari Setup

Press the ROM button, then press Browse in the TOS Setup configuration. As you will see, the dialogs is not like the usual Windows (or Mac) file explorer, but it is pretty much straightforward to use. For example, if you need to go up one folder level, press the button with the “..” symbol.

Navigate until you see the TOS 2.06 available in the list. A single click over the file is enough to select it. After that, press Okay. After that, press the Back to main menu button, and finally OK.

Since you changed the ROM, the emulator will open a dialog box telling you that it must restart. Just press OK and wait until you see the usual Atari TOS GUI:

Atari TOS

Note: Hatari will automatically capture the mouse pointer, but I noticed that if you “enter” the emulator window from all edges except the right one, the Atari mouse pointer will be off. Not sure if that will happen to you, but if you notice something like that, try the move the mouse into the emulation window using the right side.

Running Games from Floppy Images

Games can be download from our Atari ST Games or several other places over the Internet. Usually, the floppy images use .st.stx or .msa extensions. The games downloaded from VITNO will in ZIP format, containing all the floppy images needed to play the game or run the application. Other sites will have one ZIP file for every floppy image.

After downloading and unzipping the game to the folder of your choice, press F12 on the emulator in order to “insert the disquete into the Atari ST floppy”. After the configuration window is opened, press the Floppy disks button. Select the floppy image the same way you did for the TOS image, and then press Back to the main menu button.

The easiest way to get the game running is to reset the emulator. On the Configuration window, if you select Reset Machine before pressing the OK, the emulator will rebooting from the floppy, starting the game by default.

Configuring the Keyboard as Joystick

If you do not have a joystick, it is possible to use the keyboard to play the games. By default, Hatari will be configured to use an actual joystick, so if you want to use the keyboard you have to bring up the Configuration screen (F12) and press the Joysticks button. Just select Use Keyboard and press the button Define keys to select which keys will be used. The arrow keys and the right Ctrl are the defaults.


Hatari is a very powerful emulator, but the fact that it doesn’t have a native OS look & feel can scare some first-time users. However, with the help of the documentation available in the installation folder (doc/manual.html) and some practice, it is the perfect environment to bring back good memories of your Atari ST.

Rick Dangerous

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