How To Turn Your Nintendo DS Into A MP3 Player

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how to turn ds into ipodSince its release in 2004, the Nintendo DS handheld console has seen four iterations (original, Lite, DSi, DSi-XL) but some of them haven’t included certain features that one might expect from a handheld device with touchscreen functionality. The Nintendo DS is capable of functioning as a PDA or handheld multimedia device, but Nintendo has chosen to keep it mostly focused on video games.

Meanwhile the Sony PSP, a direct competitor to the DS, has the ability to not only play games, but watch movies, play music, and more. This has left some Nintendo DS owners feeling a little left out.

This article will explain basically how to turn your DS into a MP3 player so that you can add music playing functionality to your beloved dual-screened handheld console, so you may not need to buy that shiny new iPod.


Although the new Nintendo DSi does have native support for AAC, users with the older iterations or those wishing to play MP3s are left in the dust. However, there is a relatively easy way to unlock the hidden potential of the Nintendo DS.

Buy a Flash Card

how to turn your ds into an ipodThe first thing you will need to do is buy a flash card to use with your DS. A flash card is a game card containing flash memory that you plug in as if you were playing any other game. It enables you to add more functions, such as running the application that lets you play MP3s, Ogg Vorbis, and AAC files. The nice thing about flash cards is their convenience, ease of use, and they won’t void your warranty like some other methods do since it’s just a card and no hardware modification is required. With that said, Nintendo does not condone the use of flash cards, so do it at your own risk.

There are many different brands of DS flash cards and all of them have their own set of features and quality. Notable brands include the CycloDS, the M3, and Acekard. In this tutorial, we will use the Acekard 2i, which is known for being an inexpensive quality card. Acekard’s official web site has a list of recommended distributors to buy from. Unless you already have a MicroSD card to use, I suggest you purchase a package that contains both the MicroSD card and the Acekard.

I bought my whole kit for less than $35, which is around the price of one game. The kit will include simple instructions to prepare the card for the DS, which is basically just downloading and copying some files onto the card using the included USB stick.

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Download & Install Moonshell

Now that you’ve got the flash card, you need an application to play the music. This is where Moonshell comes in. Moonshell is an unofficial multimedia player for the Nintendo DS. It can be used to play music, watch videos, view photos, read text, and some other things.

To install Moonshell, follow these instructions:

  1. Mount your MicroSD card into your PC using the USB loader from the Acekard kit.
  2. Download Moonshell from the official web site.

    how to turn your ds into an ipod

  3. Run or unzip the files to a directory and then run the setup.exe file. It will ask you to select a language.

    how to turn your ds into an ipod

  4. Choose your mounted card. For me, it’s “Removable Disk J:”.

    turn my nintendo ds into mp3 player

  5. It will begin to copy the files.

    how to turn my nintendo ds into a ipod

    After it’s finished, you can also go ahead and copy over a MP3 to the Removable Disk as well. Then safely eject the USB reader and card.

  6. Plug the Acekard into your DS and power on. Choose to load the Acekard from the main menu.

    turn nintendo ds into a ipod

  7. Select the Moonshell program to run it. On your first boot, it will ask you to select a language.
  8. After it loads (takes a few seconds) you’ll see a file explorer on the bottom screen where you can select the MP3 you want to play. On the top screen you’ll see instructions for how to play tracks, change volume, and so on.

    how to turn ds into mp3 player

  9. Now simply select the song you want to play, and if all goes well, it will begin to play immediately. Continue to add more MP3s to your SD card as needed. You can organize them using file directories, just like you would on your PC. Note: With Moonshell version 2.10, I’ve noticed MP3s with very high bit-rates may not play correctly, but most MP3s work fine.

Was this tutorial easy to follow? Have you used your Nintendo DS to play music? Do you have any tips to improve the experience? If so, please leave us a comment below!

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Comments (19)
  • Dash06

    Thank you. Excuse my ignorance but ids it possible to do this(download moonshell) with my mac?

    • Jonathan Bennett

      Yeah, it should work fine. You just need to be able to download the files from the Internet and use the USB plug to put them on the micro SD card. You can do this with Windows, Mac, Linux, or any other OS that supports USB thumbdrives.

  • Dash06

    You mentioned that moonshell has the ability to play videos?
    My daughter has a DSi and as far as I can tell you can’t play videos on it.
    Is there a way to get around this?
    Cheers

    • Jonathan Bennett

      It does have the ability to play videos in the DPG format. If the videos you have are not in DPG format, then they need to be converted. The DS isn’t a very good video player, though it can be done.

    • Jonathan Bennett

      When I say “it”, I’m referring to Moonshell. DPG can be played in Moonshell.

  • kelly

    can you download apps??

    • Jonathan Bennett

      Yes, by having a flash cart, you have access to a great number of homebrew (home-made) applications. Someone even made a version of Linux to run on the DS, which I thought was neat.

  • Alde

    Gotta love Makeuseof for great tips. This one will save me close to $ 200.00… How you might ask ? Now my child will be satisfied to have a console that she can play games on as well as listen to her favorite tunes without forking out the bucks for an Ipod Touch :thumbsup:

    • Jonathan Bennett

      Thanks for the nice feedback. It’s nice to know when an article helps someone in some way. :)

  • oranges2

    Not to advertise, but many other places carry flashcards for much less (think 12USD), in addition, the R4 is horribly outdated and should not be recommended to anyone(not to mention that no real R4 carts have been manufactured in the last two years).

    As far as music playing, lmp-ng is far superior to moonshell, with a better interface, playback quality, and less battery drain.

    • Jonathan Bennett

      I’ve seen some shops in Hong Kong that carry cards for less than $15. I bought mine from a Canadian shop, so the price was a little higher.

      Thanks for your info about the R4. I knew they weren’t being manufactured anymore, though I’ve heard some of the knock-offs are alright. I like the Acekard myself.

      lmp-ng looks good. This is my first time of hearing about it from anyone. Definitely looks like it’s worth checking out.

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.