How to Install the Wii Homebrew Channel

A step-by-step guide to hacking your Wii

An illustration of the Homebrew Channel on Wii, including steps for how to install.

Lifewire / Vin Ganapathy

If you want to hack, or homebrew, your Wii, don't buy a kit. All the homebrew tools you need can be found for free on the internet.

If you don’t know what homebrewing is, read our introduction to the fascinating world of Wii homebrew.

An illustration of the Homebrew Channel on Wii, including steps for how to install.
 ©Lifewire 

Before You Begin

Nintendo didn't design the Wii to support homebrewing. So, there's no guarantee that using homebrew software won't harm your Wii. You are responsible for any problems that arise from installing Wii homebrew software. Proceed at your own risk. It's also possible that installing homebrew software could void your warranty.

Be aware, too, that Nintendo updates to the Wii may break your Homebrew Channel (or brick your Wii), so don't update the Wii system after installing Homebrew. To prevent Nintendo from automatically updating your system, turn off WiiConnect24. To do so, select Options, then select Wii Settings. You'll find WiiConnect24 on page 2. Also, prevent new games from attempting to update the system.

The Wii Menu, with pointer hovering over Wii Options

Read the WiiBrew FAQ before proceeding.

To install the homebrew software on a Wii, you'll need:

  • A Wii console
  • An SD card formatted for FAT16 or FAT32
  • A computer with internet access
  • An SD card reader for the computer

Prepare Your SD Card, and Choose Your Installation Method

Before you begin, format the SD card for FAT16. Advice from Yahoo! Answers claims that the Wii reads and writes faster using FAT16 than it does using FAT32.

Front and back of an SD card
SanDisk

If you used the SD card before to install homebrew software, you may see a file on the card called boot.dol. If so, delete or rename it. Similarly, if you see a folder called private, delete or rename it.

If you're using a new SD card, follow the instructions to format it on a Mac or on a PC running Windows.

You can either copy homebrew applications to the SD card or wait until you've verified that everything was installed properly. Go to the Install Homebrew Software section of this article to learn how to install homebrew applications on an SD card.

The method you use to install homebrew software varies according to your Wii console's operating system. To determine which version of the operating system the Wii runs, go to Wii Options and select Wii Settings. The operating system version number appears in the upper-right corner. If the Wii runs version 4.3, use the LetterBomb method; if the Wii runs version 4.2 or earlier, use the Bannerbomb method.

Download LetterBomb, Then Copy It to Your SD Card

If you have a new Wii, this procedure reportedly won't work until there is at least one message in your Wii Message Board. If the Wii is new and you have no messages, create a memo on the Wii. To create a memo, select the envelope inside a circle located in the lower-right corner of the main menu. In the Wii Message Board, select create message, select memo, then write and post a memo.

Wii Message Board with 2 envelopes

Use the LetterBomb method if the Wii console's operating system is version 4.3.

  1. Plug the SD card reader into the computer.

  2. Open a browser, then go to the LetterBomb home page.

    Home page of the LetterBomb homebrew package
  3. On the LetterBomb page, go to System Menu Version, then select the option that corresponds to the operating system version.

  4. In the MAC Address section, enter the media access control (MAC) address of the Wii. If you don't know the MAC address, here's how to find it:

    1. Select Wii Options.
    2. Select Wii Settings.
    3. On page 2 of Wii Settings, select Internet.
    4. Select Console Information.
  5. Make sure that Bundle the HackMii Installer for me is selected.

  6. In the reCAPTCHA, provide the required information.

  7. Select Cut the red wire or Cut the blue wire. It doesn't matter which option you select; either option downloads the file.

    LetterBomb
  8. Extract the file, then copy it to the SD card.

Begin Homebrew Installation (LetterBomb Method)

On the Wii console, open the door next to the game disc slot to access the SD card slot. Insert the SD card so that the top of the card faces the game disc slot. If the card goes only partway in, it was inserted backward or upside down.

  1. Turn on the Wii.

  2. In the main menu, select the envelope in the circle located in the lower-right corner of the screen.

    Wii Menu screen
  3. In your Wii Message Board, look for a special message, which is indicated by a red envelope that contains a cartoon bomb.

    Wii message
  4. This message may be in yesterday's mail. Select the left arrow to go to the previous day. According to the LetterBomb instructions, the message could also turn up today or two days ago.

  5. Select the envelope.

  6. Install the Homebrew Channel (you'll find instructions in the Install the Homebrew Channel section below).

Copy the Necessary Software to an SD Card (Bannerbomb Method)

To copy the software, go to Bannerbomb, and follow the instructions. The Bannerbomb instructions show you how to download Bannerbomb, extract it, and copy the extracted file to the SD card.

Use the Bannerbomb method if the Wii console's operating system is version 4.2 or earlier.

Next, download the HackMii Installer, and then extract it. Copy installer.elf to the SD card’s root directory, and rename it boot.elf.

bannerbomb alpha

The Bannerbomb site offers a few alternate versions of the software. If the main version doesn't work for you, try the others one by one until you find one that works on your Wii.

Install Homebrew (Bannerbomb Method)

Now, you're ready to install homebrew. In this process, you copy boot.dol/elf from the SD card and load it.

  1. Turn on the Wii.

  2. Select Wii Menu, then select Wii (the circle in the lower-left corner).

  3. Select Data Management.

    Wii Data Management menu option
  4. At the top left, select the Channels tab.

  5. At the top right, select the SD Card tab.

  6. On the Wii console, open the door next to the game disc slot to access the SD card slot. Insert the SD card so that the top of the card faces the game disc slot. If the card goes only partway in, it's backward or upside down.

  7. If prompted to load boot.dol/elf, select Yes.

    Load boot? screen

Install the Homebrew Channel

A loading screen appears, followed by a black screen with white text telling you to demand your money back if you paid for this software. After a few seconds, the installer prompts you to press 1 on the Wii remote.

HackMii installer screen
 Team Twizers

Read the onscreen instructions carefully.

Perform the following steps using the Wii remote. Highlight items on the screen, then press A on the remote to select them.

  1. A screen appears indicating whether the homebrew items can be installed. When using the LetterBomb method on an older Wii, choose to install BootMii as either boot2 or IOS. The Readme file included with LetterBomb explains the pros and cons of the two choices. Newer Wii consoles allow only the IOS method.

  2. Select Continue, then press A.

  3. Select Install The Homebrew Channel, then press A.

  4. When prompted to install the channel, select continue, then press A.

    From this screen, you can also run BootMii, the installer. If you're using the Bannerbomb method, there's a DVDx option.

  5. When installation is complete, press A to continue.

  6. When the software is installed, select Exit, then press A.

If you're using Bannerbomb, use the same procedure to install DVDx, which uses the Wii as a DVD player (if you install media-playing software such as MPlayer CE). Find and install DVDx using the Homebrew Browser.

After you exit, an indicator shows that the SD card is loading. When loading is complete, the Homebrew Channel appears. If you copied homebrew applications into the apps folder of the SD card, you'll see them here; otherwise, you'll see a screen with bubbles floating on it. Press home on the remote, then select exit to go to the main Wii menu. The Homebrew Channel appears as one of your channels.

Install Homebrew Software

If you have a new Wii, this procedure reportedly won't work until you have at least one message in your Wii Message Board. To create a memo, select the envelope in a circle (located in the lower-right corner of the main menu). In the Wii Message Board, select create message, select memo, then write and post a memo.

When there are messages in your Wii Message Board, insert the SD card into the computer’s SD card reader, then create a folder called apps in the card's root folder.

To download the software, go to wiibrew.org.

  1. At wiibrew.org, in the navigation pane, select Applications. Then, select an application to see a description of the software and links to download it or visit the developer’s website.

    Wiibrew.org page with app to download
  2. Select the link beside Downloadable via the to either start the download. The software will be in a .zip or .rar file, so you'll need decompression software. On Windows, use an app such as IZArc.

  3. Extract the file to the apps folder on the SD card. Make sure that the new file is in a separate subfolder. For example, if you install SCUMMVM, extract the files to a SCUMMVM folder inside the apps folder.

  4. Put as many applications and games as you like (and that will fit) on the SD card.

  5. Take the card out of the SD card reader and insert it in the SD card slot on the Wii console.

  6. From the main Wii menu, select The Homebrew Channel. Everything you copied to the SD card appears on the screen.

    Wii menu with Homebrew Channel
  7. Select the item of your choice and enjoy.