BlueStacks Android emulator: What is it & how to download on Mac and PC

BlueStacks Android emulator: What is it & how to download on Mac and PC

12.May.2021

BueStacks - what the heck is it, and why do you need it? BlueStacks is an emulator that allows you to play Android games on your PC or Mac rather than your phone. If your first thought after hearing that was, "Why on Earth would I need to do that?" then I ask you, good reader, to hold thine horses and consider the possibilities.

There are actually many good reasons that you may want or need to emulate mobile games! You might want to play your games on a larger screen, have greater flexibility with mapping custom controls, or maybe you cracked your phone screen and have been cutting your thumbs to shreds every time you try to play GRID Autosport. Your phone might even just be getting a little old and can't handle the kind of performance needed to run newer games at their ideal specs anymore.

Personally, I wanted another place to put my massive and ever-growing library of games. Even with storage expansions, there's only so much that the average phone can handle before you start running out of room, especially with gigabyte-devouring monsters like Final Fantasy IX and KOTOR out there roaming the digital wilds.

Whatever your reason may be for needing an emulator, BlueStacks has got you covered. Here's a step-by-step guide on installing and using BlueStacks Android emulator for PC and Mac devices.

BlueStacks 5 is currently in Beta, so we're going to be using BlueStacks 4 for this guide:

How to Install BlueStacks

  1. Navigate to the BlueStacks 4 downloader.
  2. BlueStacks will auto-detect your PC or Mac's specs and will recommend the right version for your device, but you can manually select your operating system and Android architecture if you want to.
  3. Click Download BlueStacks.

    Bluestacks Download

  4. Follow your Mac or PC's installation wizard to install the software.
  5. Once BlueStacks has been installed, the software will auto-launch, and you'll sign in to your Google Play account. You can skip this step if you don't want to sign in immediately.

    Bluestacks Sign In

Congratulations, you're now in BlueStacks!

Download New Games

  1. Upon launching BlueStacks, you'll land in the Game center.

    Bluestacks Game Center

  2. From the game center, you can search for and download new games. You can also browse by genre, by what's popular, etc.
  3. Clicking any game will open a new tab for the Google Play Store, and you'll download games just like you would for your phone.
  4. Downloaded games will now appear under My Games.

    Bluestacks My Games

Install Existing Games

If you already have a library of games from the Google Play Store, you can easily re-install these on BlueStacks.

  1. Click My Games in the upper left corner and then click Google Play Store. This will open up a new tab within BlueStacks for the Google Play Store.
  2. Click the hamburger menu in the upper left corner and select My Games and Apps. From here, you can manage updates, view your installed games, and view your library.

    Bluestacks Mygames

  3. Click Library.
  4. Use the Install All function to install everything in your library to BlueStacks or select games one by one to add to BlueStacks. Only games actively installed on your phone will be installed to BlueStacks using the Install All function.

    Bluestacks Install All

  5. You can also scroll down to the Not On This Device section to view games you've deleted from your phone that can still be installed on BlueStacks.

Games and apps that cannot be added to BlueStacks will lack an Install button next to them. Downloaded games will now appear under My Games, which you can get back to by clicking the Home tab and then selecting My Games. You can close the Google Play Store tab at any time once you're done with it.

Playing Games in BlueStacks

When playing games on BlueStacks, you'll have a handy dandy menu on the right-hand side that will show you the emulated controls, along with a host of options like toggling the on-screen controls on and off, volume control, etc. You can also map custom controls and/or connect a controller to play whatever way you want to!

Games will be opened in new tabs within BlueStacks, so you can swap back and forth as much as you want to between games or even other programs. Just click the red X over the game's tab to close it out when you're done. Don't forget to save your progress!