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What control devices does MAME support?

MAME supports three basic classes of controllers:

  • standard keyboards
  • mouse-like controllers (this includes most trackballs and lightguns)
  • any DirectInput-visible control that has digital buttons or analog axes (this includes most joysticks and steering wheels)

Please note that most of MAME's controls are set up for development purposes, which means that most games will work fine with just some form of keyboard control. If you wish to use fancier control schemes, you will probably need to configure them within MAME to your liking.

How do I configure the keys?

Why doesn't the Tab key work anymore?

Most likely you have re-configured the normal menu key, Tab to something else. To restore the default settings, you'll have to delete the default.cfg file from the cfg/ subdirectory below the main MAME directory.

If you have settings you don't want to lose, you can also try to edit default.cfg with any text editor, since the input configuration files are in XML format. Find the line that says <port type="UI_CONFIGURE"> and delete the adjacent <newseq... line, leaving only the <defseg... line within the <port> tag.

How can I change what axes the mouse and joystick control?

Mouse control is too sensitive / not sensitive enough.

Why doesn't my joystick work?

The arrow keys work, but I can't fire, jump, etc.

TRON's arm doesn't move; I can't aim in Heavy Barrel, etc.

When playing Star Wars (or other games) with a mouse, the crosshair moves in the wrong direction.

My joystick/controller still doesn't work.

I don't remember how to control this game.

What if I only want authentic arcade controls?

There are several high-quality control panels available. The first one, and now the most basic, is the HotRod. It's been joined by the X-Arcade, which is also relatively basic but can be used with many popular home consoles in addition to computers, and the insanely customizable SlikStik.

It's also possible to build your own: you can get plans, guidance, and support at Build Your Own Arcade Controls.