PPSSPP Tutorial

Last updated November 27, 2021



This tutorial is to help you with PPSSPP for Windows. PPSSPP is the #1 emulator for the Sony PSP! It has the usual bundle of features we expect from an emulator. Its game compatibility is very good. PPSSPP's drawback is that it's too good of an emulator - it's resource demanding! Even if you have a pretty fast computer, PPSSPP may struggle to run at full speed.

PPSSPP can be downloaded from its homepage:


So when you go to PPSSPP's homepage and click Downloads, you're presented with two download options: zip and installer .

  • Zip is the 'portable' version of PPSSPP. That means to 'install' PPSSPP all you need to do is extract it from its zip file. This is how it is with most video game emulators.
  • Installer gives you an easy install wizard that places PPSSPP in your Start Menu. PPSSPP can also be uninstalled via Windows when you want it removed.

So which one should you download? Well, given that most of you reading this are beginners, I recommend the installer. It's the easiest method.

Using the installer

Upon downloading the installer, you'll have PPSSPP's EXE setup file in your Downloads folder. Double-click on it to proceed with the installation wizard. Follow the directions it prompts you.

After the installation is completed, from this point forward you can open PPSSP in your Windows Start Menu .

Using the zip

The 'zip' of PPSSPP is a portable program so installation is simple: just extract PPSSPP from its zip file. Not sure how to extract zip files? Here's a video tutorial showing you how: how to unzip files on Windows.

IMPORTANT! PPSSPP must be placed in a common folder on your computer. I recommend Documents, Downloads, or create a folder on your desktop. If you place PPSSPP somewhere else on your main C drive, then you may be restricting it to read-only access. Doing so prevents PPSSPP from saving anything.

To open PPSSPP, double-click on PPSSPP's EXE for 64-bit Windows.

Setting up the keyboard or gamepad

  1. Firstly, PPSSPP doesn't let you access the button configuration while a game is running. So if you currently have a game running, save and go to Emulation > Stop.
  2. The button configuration is found by going to Game Settings > Control Mapping, as shown below:
    Accessing the Control Mapping
  3. You'll arrive at the Control Mapping screen:
    The Control Mapping screen
    You can navigate this screen like a web page. You can click & drag, use the scroll-wheel on your mouse, or use the keyboard directional arrows. As you can see, PPSSPP already has all the buttons setup including gamepad buttons. Each virtual button has multiple instances of buttons. For example, “kbd.Up” is Up on the keyboard and “pad1.Up” is Up on a gamepad (if you have one plugged in).
  4. If you wish, you can reconfigure any button. Just click on the one you want to change. PPSSPP will prompt you with a little box. From there, press the new keyboard key or gamepad button you want it changed to.

Loading a game

  1. PPSSPP needs games extracted from their archives. So if your PSP ISO is in a ZIP, RAR, or 7Z file, you need to extract it. If you're not sure how to extract ZIP files, here's a video with directions. If you don't have the ability to extract RAR or 7Z files, you can do so with 7-Zip (it's free).
  2. Some examples of valid PSP ISOsExamples of PSP ISO files
    Once extracted, note that your PSP ISO must be one of the following file formats: ISO, CSO, PBP, ELF, or PRX. If your ISO format is not in one of those formats, then it is not a valid ISO. You'd need to download your game from somewhere else to obtain it in a valid file format.
  3. To load a game, go to File > Load or click Load - as shown below.
    Loading a game
  4. You'll see the “Open” window. PPSSPP defaults to its main folder. If you placed your PSP games here, they will be the first thing you see. If you placed your PSP games elsewhere on your computer, you'd need to navigate to that folder. Select the game you want to play then click Open, as shown here . Your game will begin running.
  5. You only need to load a game this way once. Hence, your game will appear as an icon shortcut on the main PPSSPP screen. Like this:
    PPSSPP main screen showing icon shortcuts to games
    To load your game, all you'd need to do is click the icon shortcut.

Q: I get errors loading games!

If you get one of these errors:

  • This is not a PSP game
  • Error loading file: file is compressed

There are two reasons you might be getting these errors:

  • Possible Reason #1: You didn't extract the game from its archive. The archive would be in ZIP, RAR, or 7Z format.
  • Possible Reason #2: You have a bad game. Perhaps it's partially corrupt. Try downloading the game from somewhere else.

Full screen

Press Alt+Enter or F11 to enter full screen. Press Alt+Enter or F11 again to go back to window mode. While in full screen mode, you can press the Esc key to access your save files or exit the game to the main PPSSPP menu.

If your computer is not that fast, you may encounter lag while your game is running in full screen. If that's the case, read the section below about improving slow performance.

Improving slow performance

The challenge with PPSSPP is that out of the box it's optimized for maximum performance. Slower computers may not be fast enough for it. Fortunately, PPSSPP can be tinkered with to improve its performance on your computer.

1. Reduce the rendering resolution

I think this is the best start toward better performance. By default, PPSSPP is automatically setting the rendering resolution depending on the size of the window or if you're in full screen mode. You can force PPSSPP to always render in a lower resolution. You can do so by going to Game Settings > Rendering Resolution > 3x. If 3x still doesn't improve your performance, try 2x. Look below:

Sample of 2x rendering resolution

See, it's not too bad. All that lowering the resolution does is make the screen look a little blurry and slightly more pixelated. Try even 1x if 2x doesn't help. But if even 1x doesn't help (or looks too ugly), keep reading.

2. Enable frameskipping

Enabling frameskipping will allow you to keep optimal graphics, but animation will no longer be smooth. To enable frameskipping just go to Game Settings > Frameskipping > Auto. This should be enough to improve performance. If not, keep reading.

3. Skip buffer effects

Now we're jumping into sacrificing graphic quality. Skipping buffer effects will disable any special graphical effects. It'll cause some pieces of graphics that were once beautiful to be solid black. See below:

HSample of skip buffer effects

To enable this, go to Game Settings > Rendering Mode > Skip buffer effects. If even skipping buffer effects doesn't improve PPSSPP's performance, then your computer isn't fast enough to handle PPSSPP.

Fixing 'jumpy' screens

Even if you lowered the rendering resolution and enabled auto frameskip (as explained above), you may find that the screen is refreshing awkwardly. It's most obvious when you turn a corner in a 3D game. Like this:

A screen refreshing without vertical sync

How do you fix this? With vertical sync! Enable it by going to Game Settings > VSync.

Save states

Using the save state feature via the File menu

Save states is a feature that saves the exact spot you are in any game. You can use this feature manually by going into the File menu or by quick keyboard shortcuts.

PPSSPP offers two ways to use save states. You have quick saves and save state files.

Quick saves

If you want instant gratification, quick saves are the instant saving you want.

  • Capturing a quick save: To capture a quick save go to File > Save State, or press the F2 key. You could also press the Esc key during gameplay to access the save states screen to save a state, which looks like this:
    The save state screen
  • Loading a quick save: To load a quick save that you previously saved, go to File > Load State, or press the F4 key. You could also press the Esc key during gameplay to access the save states screen to load a state.
  • 5 States! PPSSPP lets you save up to 5 different quick save states. You can toggle between these slots by going to File > Savestate Slot and choose a slot. You could also press the F3 key to change slots, or press the Esc key during gameplay.

Save state files

These saves require an extra step but allow you to save a state as a file with a custom name.

  • Capturing a save state: To capture a save state go to File > Save State File. Type in a name for the save then click Save or press the Enter key.
  • Loading a save state: To load a save state that you previously saved, go to File > Load State File. Select the save you want to load. Note that PPSSPP can only load PPSSPP save states; not save states from other emulators. Also, it can only load a save state from a specific game. For example, if you have the North American version of Final Fantasy IV and you try to load a save state from the UK version, it won't work.

Fast forward

Fast forward is the feature that speeds up the game. To access it, press the Tab key. Hold it down and let go until you want the fast forwarding to end.

Capturing screen shots

First, you need to decide how big you want the screen shots to be. PPSSPP will capture screen shots at the exact size you currently have the window. Or if you're in full screen mode, it'll capture screen shots at full resolution. You can change the window size by going to Game Settings > Window Size.

To capture a screen shot, just press the F12 key. PPSSPP will dump the shot as a JPG in memstick > PSP > SCREENSHOT, as shown below:

The folder where PPSSPP saves screen shots

Do you prefer capturing screen shots as a lossless PNG? Well, you're stuck with JPG. To capture PNG screen shots you need a screen capture program. A good free one that I recommend is ShareX. Once installed, you can just press Ctrl+Prt Scr and hover over the game screen. ShareX will capture the game screen as if PPSSPP just took a screen shot. ShareX will dump the PNG screen shot in Documents > ShareX > Screenshots.

Q: I get Error Code 80110383!

You currently have PPSSPP in a read-only location on your computer. You must move PPSSPP to a more common location such as Documents, Downloads, or a folder on your desktop.

Q: PPSSPP isn't saving anything!

If you're using PPSSPP for the first time and you're finding that you have all these problems:

  1. Save states aren't working. You save a state, then when you try to reload it nothing happens.
  2. When you save your game at a save point and close/re-open PPSSPP, you find that the save is lost.
  3. Emulator configurations that you changed aren't saved. When you close/re-open PPSSPP, you have to make those configuration changes again.

Then your problem is that you currently have PPSSPP in a read-only location on your computer. You must move PPSSPP to a more common location such as Documents, Downloads, or a folder on your desktop.

Finding ISOs

In my links page, I have some good links to sites where you can download PSP ISOs. If you want to try to find more sites than what's in my collection of links, just Google around. For example, if you want to download God of War just Google “download god of war psp”.

You may have some trouble finding a good site since most ROM sites do not have PSP games due to their large size. The same goes for trying to find ISOs for systems such as PS2/PS3/GameCube/Wii and beyond. Fortunately, people upload large games to cloud platforms all the time. You'll only find these links to such valuable resources on Reddit. You can find these Reddit links on Google with such keywords as “reddit download psp games”.