3DS Hacks: How to Mod a Nintendo 3DS

Install custom firmware and homebrew games on the 3DS, 2DS, and 3DS XL

Modding your Nintendo 3DS allows you to take screenshots and play homebrew games, but it requires a lot of time, patience, and potential risks. If you're new to 3DS hacks, learning how to install Luma 3DS custom firmware is a good place to start.

Instructions in this article apply to all Nintendo 3DS and 2DS models, including the New 3DS XL.

What is 3DS Custom Firmware?

Custom firmware (CFW) replaces the default Nintendo 3DS operating system with a modified version. Modding your device with CFW comes with many benefits. For example, you can:

  • Take screenshots at any time.
  • Install homebrew apps and games.
  • Play region-locked 3DS games on any model.
  • Use cheat engines like GateShark for 3DS games.

Risks of 3DS Mods

Making changes to your 3DS will void the warranty, which can be a problem since there's always the small risk of bricking your device. In the past, Nintendo has banned users with CFW from using online services like the eShop, so it's best to disable the internet on your device after modifying it.

How to Mod the 3DS

There are multiple ways to hack your 3DS, so if one method doesn't work, try another. There are also several different types of CFW you can use. The 3DS Hacks Guide maintains up-to-date information on modding the latest version of the Nintendo 3DS firmware, so it can be a helpful resource if you run into hurdles.

What Do You Need to Install CFW on the 3DS?

At minimum, you'll need an SD card and a computer running Windows. If your PC doesn't have an SD slot, you'll also need an SD card reader. All 3DS systems come with an SD card, but if you have to purchase one, make sure it's compatible with your 3DS model.

How to Install Luma 3DS Custom Firmware

The Luma 3DS CFW is compatible with all Nintendo 3DS models running up-to-date firmware.

This method was tested on a Nintendo 3DS running version 11.9 of the Nintendo 3DS firmware. The SD card for your 3DS must have at least 1.3 GB of free space for this process to work.

  1. Turn off the 3DS and remove the SD card, then insert the SD card into your computer.

  2. Open the Nintendo 3DS folder on the SD card.

    Open the Nintendo 3DS folder on the SD card.
  3. Right-click the folder inside and select Rename, then copy the name of the folder and paste it into a document for later reference. This 32-character string of digits is your device's unique ID number.

    Right click the folder inside and select Rename, then copy the name of the folder and paste it into a document for later reference.
  4. Turn on your 3DS and tap the Friends List icon (the orange face) at the top of the bottom screen on the Home menu.

    Tap the Friends List icon (the orange face) at the top of the bottom screen on the Home menu.

    If your Friends List does not load, then you must first create a Mii profile for your system and set up an internet connection.

  5. Tap your Mii profile and note the Friend Code on the top screen. Type the code into a document on your computer for later reference.

    Tap the Friends List icon (the orange face) at the top of the bottom screen on the Home menu.
  6. Open the Bruteforce Movable website in a browser on your computer.

    Open Bruteforce Movable website in a browser on your computer.
  7. Enter your Friend Code (without the dashes) and your unique 3DS ID number.

  8. Complete the captcha, then select Go.

  9. On your 3DS, add the friend code displayed in your web browser, then wait for the website to update in your browser. If it doesn't update within a few minutes, refresh the page.

    On your 3DS, add the friend code displayed in your web browser, then wait for the website to update in your browser.
  10. Select Continue on the Bruteforce Moveable website, then wait for a file to be generated.

    Select Continue on the Bruteforce Moveable website, then wait for a file to be generated.
  11. Download the movable.sed file to your computer.

    Download the movable.sed file to your computer.
  12. On your 3DS, download the game Steel Diver: Sub Wars from the eShop.

    On your 3DS, download the game Steel Diver: Sub Wars from the eShop.
  13. On your computer, download the following files:

    Enter the version and region code for your 3DS found in the Settings menu.
  14. Create a folder called "3ds" at the root level of your SD card.

    Create a folder called 3ds at the root level of your SD card.
  15. Copy boot.3dsx and the steelhax folder from the Steelhax.rar file to the root of your SD card.

    Copy boot.3dsx and the steelhax folder from the Steelhax.rar file to the root of your SD card.
  16. Copy the otherapp payload to the steelhax folder on your SD card and rename it "payload.bin."

    Copy the otherapp payload to the steelhax folder on your SD card and rename it payload.bin.
  17. Insert the SD card into your 3DS and turn on the device.

  18. Open Steel Diver: Sub Wars and select your Mii to create a save file.

    Open Steel Diver: Sub Wars and select your Mii to create a save file.

    Decline any updates, if prompted. If you updated the game, go to your device's Data Management menu in the System Settings and delete the update.

  19. Exit the game and turn off your 3DS.

  20. Insert the SD card into your computer and open the Steelminer Injector website in your browser.

    Open the Steelminer Injector in your browser.
  21. Choose your movable.sed file and select Start. A save file (00000001.sav) will automatically download.

  22. Go to Nintendo 3DS > ID code > title > 00040000 > region code > data on the SD card and move the save file inside. Choose to overwrite the original save file when asked.

    Go to Nintendo 3DS > ID code > title> 00040000 > region code -> data on the SD card and move the save file inside.

    The 3DS region codes are as follows: 000d7d00 (USA), 000d7e00 (Europe), and 000d7c00 (Japan).

  23. Insert the SD card into your 3DS and turn on the device.

  24. Open Steel Diver: Sub Wars. The Homebrew Launcher will load instead of the game. You might see an error message.

    Open Steel Diver: Sub Wars. The Homebrew Launcher will load instead of the game.
  25. Turn off the 3DS.

  26. Download the following files on your computer:

    To extract the .7z file, you will need a file archiver such as 7-Zip.

  27. Insert the SD card into your computer and copy the following files to the root of the SD card:

    • movable.sed
    • boot.firm from the Luma3DS .7z
    • boot.nds (B9STool)
    • frogcert.bin
  28. Copy Frogtool.3dsx to the 3ds folder on the SD card.

    Copy Frogtool.3dsx to the 3ds folder on the SD card.
  29. Insert the SD card into your 3DS and turn on the device.

  30. Open Steel Diver: Sub Wars to launch the Homebrew Launcher.

  31. Tap Frogtool.

    Tap Frogtool.
  32. Select INJECT patched DS Download Play.

  33. Select BOOT patched DS Download Play. The Japanese version of Flipnote Studio will load.

  34. Tap the on-screen prompts. On the screens with two options, tap the left one.

    See the visual guide for using flipnote to install b9sTool to navigate the Japanese text.

  35. When you get to the load screen, select the SD card icon in the lower-right corner.

  36. Tap the face icon, then tap the icon in the bottom-right of the touchscreen.

  37. Tap the small frog in the bottom-left corner.

  38. Tap the film icon, which should be the second tab from the top-left of the screen.

  39. Perform the following actions in the specified order on this screen:

    1. Scroll right at the top of the screen and select 3/3.
    2. In the row underneath, tap the third box from the left (containing the letter A).
    3. Scroll left at the top and select 1/3.
    4. In the row underneath, tap the fourth box from the left (containing the letter A).

    If successful, b9sTool will now launch.

  40. Select Install boot9strap and confirm, then choose to exit b9sTool.

    If you do not return to the Home menu, you can power off your device by holding down the Power button. If the Luma configuration menu loads instead, you can skip the next step.

  41. Turn off your 3DS, then hold Select+Power to turn it back on and open the Luma configuration menu.

    If the Luma configuration menu doesn't load, try updating your device's firmware, and then repeat steps 35-44.

  42. Select Show NAND or user string in System Settings.

  43. Press Start to reboot the 3DS.

  44. On your computer, download the following:

  45. Turn off the 3DS and insert the SD card into your computer.

  46. Copy these files to the 3ds folder:

    • ctr-no-timeoffset.3dsx
    • FBI.3dsx
    Copy these files to the 3ds folder.
  47. Create a new folder named cias in the root level of your SD card and copy these files inside it:

    • Homebrew_Launcher.cia
    • lumaupdater.cia
    • FBI.cia
    • DSP1.cia
    • Anemone3DS.cia
    • Checkpoint.cia
    Create a new folder named cias in the root level of your SD card and copy these files inside it.
  48. Open the Luma folder located at the root level of the SD card and create a folder named payloads inside it.

    Open the Luma folder located at the root level of the SD card and create a folder named payloads inside it.
  49. Copy GodMode9.firm from the GodMode9.zip file and paste it into the payloads folder you just created.

    Copy GodMode9.firm from the GodMode9 .zip file and paste it into the payloads folder.
  50. Copy the gm9 folder from the GodMode9 .zip file to the root of the SD card.

    Copy the gm9 folder from the GodMode9 .zip file to the root of the SD card.
  51. Insert the SD card into your 3DS and turn it on.

  52. Tap the System Settings from the Home menu.

    Open the System Settings from the Home menu.
  53. Tap Other Settings.

    Tap Other Settings.
  54. Tap 4 > System Update. After your device finishes updating, return to the Home menu.

    Tap 4 at the top of the screen, then tap System Update.
  55. Launch the Download Play app from the Home menu.

    Launch the Download Play app from the Home menu.
  56. Press L+Down+Select to open the Rosalina menu and select Miscellaneous options.

  57. Select Switch the hb. title to the current app.

  58. Press B three times to exit the Rosalina menu.

  59. Press Home and close Download Play.

  60. Tap Download Play again to load the Homebrew Launcher, then select ctr-no-timeoffset.

    Tap Download Play again to load the Homebrew Launcher, then select ctr-no-timeoffset.
  61. Press A to reset the system clock.

  62. Press Start to return to the Homebrew Launcher.

  63. Select FBI.

    Select FBI.
  64. Navigate to SD > cias.

    Navigate to SD > cias.
  65. Select <current directory>.

  66. Select Install and delete all CIAs, then press A to confirm.

  67. Press Home and close Download Play.

  68. Tap the DSP1 application on your Home menu.

  69. Press B to delete the app and return to the Home menu.

  70. Turn off your 3DS.

  71. Hold Start+Power on the 3DS to load GodMode9 at startup.

    Press A to make backup files if asked, then press A to continue. If prompted, press A to set the date and time as well.

  72. Press Home.

  73. Select Scripts > GM9Megascript > Scripts from Plailect’s Guide > Setup Luma3DS to CTRNAND.

  74. Press A when prompted, then press A again and input the code displayed on the screen.

  75. Press A to confirm, then select Cleanup SD Card.

  76. Press A twice, then press B to get back to the main menu.

  77. Select Backup Options > SysNAND Backup.

  78. Press A to confirm and wait for the process to finish. You will receive an error if there is less than 1.3GB of free space on the SD card.

  79. Press A to continue, then press B to return to the main menu.

  80. Select Exit.

    Press A to relock the write permissions if asked.

  81. Go to [M:] MEMORY VIRTUAL.

  82. Select boot9.bin > Copy to 0:/gm9/out.

  83. Press A to continue, then press Home.

  84. Select Poweroff system to turn off the 3DS.

  85. Insert the SD card into your computer.

  86. Copy the following files from the /gm9/out/ folder on your SD card to a safe location on your PC:

    • <date>_<serialnumber>_sysnand_###.bin
    • <date>_<serialnumber>_sysnand_###.bin.sha
    • essential.exefs
    • boot9.bin

    These files will come in handy if you brick your device and need to restore it. You can delete the <date>_<serialnumber>_sysnand_###.bin and <date>_<serialnumber>_sysnand_###.bin.sha files from the /gm9/out/ folder after making backups.

  87. Insert the SD card into the 3DS and turn it on. You can now take full advantage of the Luma 3DS custom firmware.

How to Use Luma 3DS

Most of the options you'll want to use can be accessed through the Rosalina menu. Press L+Down+Select at any time to open the menu. From here, you can take a screenshot, load cheats, and access debug mode. Consult the Luma 3DS wiki for full details of everything you can do with the CFW.

How to Play Homebrew Games on 3DS

Download homebrew games on your computer and move the files to the 3ds folder on your 3DS SD card to launch them from the Homebrew Launcher app. You can find lists of homebrew Nintendo 3DS games and apps online.