How to use the R4 DS

It seems that there is no good page consolidating the collective knowledge and proper instructions for the R4 DS, I aim to remedy that.

R4 Homepages

What is the R4 DS?

The R4 DS is a "Slot-1" (Nintendo DS Cartridge style) card which takes a MicroSD card for storing Homebrew Applications and Nintendo DS Roms.

How do I setup the R4 DS?

So, you've got your hands on one, you've got your MicroSD card, now what do you do?

The R4 has no built in storage for its software, it keeps all needed files on the MicroSD card, this makes upgrades easy and the potential for damage is kept extremely low.

The system software for the R4 DS is called the Kernel, download the kernel files from the respective R4 or R4 SDHC homepage above (the kernels are unique for each device).

  1. Download the newest Kernel files from the appropriate homepage for your device above.
  2. Load your MicroSD into the reader, plug into computer.
  3. Unzip the contents of the kernel folder to your MicroSD card.
  4. Eject the MicroSD card from the computer, insert MicroSD into the R4, then insert the R4 to DS.
  5. Start the DS, you should be presented with the extremely ugly launcher screen.

Ok, now how do I use the R4?

Let's talk about the launcher, there are 3 items here, they represent: NDS Apps, Moonshell, and Boot Slot-2.

NDS Apps

This section will allow you to browse the files on the card for .NDS files which are either Homebrew applications or Games in the form of ROM files.


Moonshell is a separate Application, and is a piece of Homebrew software itself and can be used for viewing text files, pictures, and mp3's.

Boot Slot-2

This item will boot directly to the Slot-2 (Gameboy Advance cartridge slot).

How do I change the R4 skin?

  1. Download a skin from one of the sites below.
  2. Unzip the four .bmp files into the _system_ directory on the MicroSD card.
  3. Load R4, press SELECT from the main menu to swap skins.

R4 Skin Links