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 Nintendo 3DS Mods

Making changes to your Nintendo 3DS voids the warranty, which can be a problem since there's always a 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.

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

At a minimum, you need an SD card and a computer running Windows. If your PC doesn't have an SD slot, you 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 Mod the Nintendo 3DS Using Luma 3DS Custom Firmware

There are multiple ways to hack your 3DS and several different types of CFW you can use. If one method doesn't work, try another. 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.

In this guide, we hack the 3DS using the Luma 3DS CFW, which is compatible with all Nintendo 3DS models running updated 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 and any game cartridges, 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.

    If your Friends List doesn't load, you must first create a Mii profile for your system and set up an internet connection.

    Tap the Friends List icon (the orange face) at the top of the bottom screen on the Home menu.
  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. 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 it to generate a file.

    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. Open the unSAFE_MODE-bb3 tool in a web browser and select Choose File, then select the movable.sed file you just downloaded.

    Open the unSAFE_MODE-bb3 tool in a web browser and select Choose File, then select the movable.sed file you just downloaded.
  13. Select Download unSAFE_MODE-bb3 archive to download a file named unSAFE_MODE-bb3.zip.

  14. Open unSAFE_MODE-bb3.zip and move the usm.bin file inside to the root of your SD card.

  15. Download Luma3DS (.7z file) on your computer, then open Luma3DS.7z and move the boot.firm and boot.3dsx files inside to the root of your SD card.

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

  16. On your SD card, navigate to Nintendo 3DS > ID code > ID code > Nintendo DSiWare. If you don't see a Nintendo DSiWare folder, you need to create one.

    If you have existing DSiWare backup files (.bin files). move them to your PC for safekeeping.

    On your SD card, navigate to Nintendo 3DS > ID code > ID code > Nintendo DSiWare.
  17. Move the F00D43D5.bin file from unSAFE_MODE-bb3.zip inside the Nintendo DSiWare folder on your DS.

  18. Reinsert the SD card into your 3DS and turn it on, then open the Settings and go to Data Management > DSiWare.

  19. Select your SD Card. The bottom screen should flash red, and your 3DS should reboot.

    If you don't see the screen flash red, then the exploit was not successful. Check to make sure you put all the files you downloaded in the correct folders.

  20. After it reboots, turn off your 3DS. With the device still powered off, hold L+R+Up+A on the system, then press the power button. Release the buttons after a few seconds, and the device should boot into safe mode.

    Select OK and I accept if asked to update the system. The update will fail, but that is part of the exploit.

  21. Select Yes when asked Would you like to configure Internet settings?

  22. From the menu that opens, go to Connection 1 > Change Settings > Next > Proxy Settings > Detailed Setup.

  23. Wait until you see B9S install SUCCESS on the top screen, then press any button to boot into Luma3DS.

  24. From the Luma Configuration menu, go to Show NAND or user string under System Settings and press A to select it.

  25. Press Start to save and reboot again.

  26. After a few minutes, your device will boot to the 3DS Home screen. Return to the Settings and go to Data Management > DSiWare > SD Card. The bottom screen will flash green, and your 3DS will reboot once again.

    If you skip this step, you may be unable to connect to Wi-Fi on your device.

  27. Turn off the system and put the SD card back into your PC, then go to the Nintendo DSiWare folder and delete F00D43D5.bin.

  28. On your computer, download the following:

  29. Create a folder called 3ds at the root level of your SD card and copy these files inside it:

    • FBI.3dsx
    • ctr-no-timeoffset.3dsx
    Create a folder called 3ds at the root level of your SD card.
  30. 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
    • DSP1.cia
    • Anemone3DS.cia
    • Checkpoint.cia
    • FBI.cia
    Create a new folder named cias in the root level of your SD card and copy these files inside it.
  31. 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.
  32. 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 you just created.
  33. Copy DO_NOT_LAUNCH.firm to the payloads folder on your SD card.

    Copy DO_NOT_LAUNCH.firm to the payloads folder on your SD card.
  34. 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.
  35. Reinsert the SD card into your 3DS and turn it on, then tap System Settings on the Home menu.

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

    Tap Other Settings.
  37. Tap 4 > System Update. After your device finishes updating, return to the Home menu. If you get a message saying “Your system is up to date,” then you already have the latest version of the 3DS firmware.

    If you encounter an error, switch the DNS settings on the system to auto.

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

  39. Press L+Down+Select to open the Rosalina menu.

  40. Select Miscellaneous, then select Switch the hb. title to the current app.

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

  42. Press Home and close Download Play.

  43. 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.
  44. When the app loads, press A to reset the system clock.

  45. Press Start to return to the Homebrew Launcher and select FBI.

    Select FBI.
  46. Select SD > cias > current directory.

    Select SD > cias > current directory.
  47. Select Install and delete all CIAs, then press A to confirm.

  48. Press Home and close Download Play.

  49. Launch the DSP1 app. After the app finishes installing, press B to delete the app and return to the Home menu.

  50. Turn off your 3DS, hold down the Start button, then turn on the device again.

  51. When the Luma3DS chainloader menu opens, go to GodMode9 and press A.

    If prompted to create an essential files backup or fix the RTC date & time, press A, then press A again.

  52. Press Home, then select Scripts > GM9Megascript > Scripts from Plailect’s Guide > Setup Luma3DS to CTRNAND.

  53. Press A twice when prompted, then press the buttons displayed on the screen.

  54. Press A again to continue, then select Cleanup SD Card.

  55. Press A twice to clean up the SD card, then press B to go back to the main menu.

  56. Select Backup Options > SysNAND Backup, then press A to confirm.

  57. Wait for the process to finish, then press A to continue.

    This may take a while. If your SD card doesn't have 1.3GB of free space, you will encounter an error.

  58. Press B to return to the main menu, then select Exit.

  59. Press A if prompted, then select [M:] MEMORY VIRTUAL.> boot9.bin > Copy to 0:/gm9/out.

  60. Press A to continue, then press Home.

  61. Select Poweroff system to shut down your 3DS.

  62. Insert the SD card into your computer, then copy the following files from the gm9/out folder to your PC for safekeeping:

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

    Make backups of these files. You will need them to recover your 3DS if you brick your device.

  63. Delete the files you just copied from the gm9/out folder on your SD card.

  64. 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.

To update Luma3DS, launch the Luma3DS Updater. This will not update the system, so you won't lose any homebrew apps.

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.