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  PHEM: Palm Hardware Emulator M68k
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Using PHEM

This is intended as a guide to using PHEM once the initial installation and configuration is complete. If you haven't yet, you may want to check out the Quick Start for basic directions on getting PHEM set up and running.

If you've never used a Palm PDA before, you might want to check out the Palm Concepts page for a little newbie guidance to the "Zen of Palm".

Many other questions are addressed in the PHEM FAQ.

If you prefer, the key information is covered in this video:

Anyway, assuming you're set up with a ROM image or two, maybe even a skin, using PHEM is pretty straightforward. There are really only three main elements to worry about: the Emulation Screen, the Button Bar, and the Menu/Action Items.

PHEM screenshot

The Emulation Screen

This where the display of the emulated Palm is shown, along with any skin you may have installed. Touch the screen to interact with the Palm. Touching the display area acts like tapping a Palm with the stylus. You can enter Graffiti in the Graffiti area, or tap the icons next to the Graffiti area to launch specific applications and operations (say, invoke menus or initiate a search of the Palm's contents).

The Button Bar

These buttons emulate the hardware buttons that all Palm PDAs had.


Datebook icon - Launches the Datebook application.

Address Book

Address Book icon - Launches the Address Book application.


Up icon
Down icon - Navigation buttons. Scrolls the screen up and down, or changes the focus among fields on the screen.

To Do List

To-Do icon - Launches the To Do List application.


Memo icon - Launches the Memo application.

Many Palm apps can use these buttons for other purposes. In particular, many games use these buttons as controls.

Note: the Button Bar supports multi-touch - that is to say, more than one button can be pressed at a time - but only on Honeycomb (Android 3.0) and above. On Gingerbread (2.3) and Froyo (2.2), the Button Bar can only support one button press at a time.

The Menus/Action Items

To invoke other PHEM operations, use the items on the action bar or application menus, depending on your Android device. The available options are:

The Power Button

Power icon

As you might imagine, this turns the emulated Palm on and off, just like the power button on a real Palm PDA.

Manage Sessions

Manage Sessions icon

This starts up the session manager. As you might expect, this is where you create, load, and save sessions.

Install Files

Install icon

This allows you to install Palm apps and databases into the emulated device. Simply navigate to the directory where the file is stored and touch it to start loading.

File Chooser Screenshot

This will kick off the "HotSync" app on the Palm, but note: you do not have to actually start a HotSync yourself. Once the "Loading" dialog finishes, just hit the "Launcher" button next to the Graffiti area and you should see the new app available to run. (However, you can do an actual HotSync with a PC if you choose; see here for details.)

Note also that PHEM insists the files have the correct extensions. If a file doesn't have one of the following extensions, PHEM won't display it as available for loading:

Some Palm software can manipulate other types of files, but they require a memory card to do so. See the discussion of Card Emulation below.

Input Toggle

Input icon

This allows you to bring up (or dismiss) your default Android input method. Usually this is a software keyboard, but you can also use Swype and more exotic alternatives. This way, you don't have to use Palm's Graffiti system for entering text into the emulated Palm. (Though you could install Graffiti for Android if you want to get meta...)


Reset icon

It's sometimes necessary to 'reset' (reboot) the emulated Palm. (For example, if you install and use hack managers.) There are three possible ways to reboot a Palm:

  1. Soft Reset: This is the 'typical' Palm reboot, what you'd get by sticking a pin or a paperclip in the 'Reset' hole in the back of the Palm.
  2. No-Extension Reset: This reboots the Palm, but skips loading exensions and notifying applications of a reboot. This is generally only needed if you've installed system software that is malfunctioning.
  3. Hard Reset: This is the 'factory reset' of the Palm world. It erases the storage heap, wiping out all user data and installed applications. In practice, it's probably simpler to just use PHEM to create a new emulation session, but if a hard reset is what you want, the option's available.

Card Emulation

Card Emulation icon

This menu only appears when PHEM is running a session with a ROM that supports memory cards. (For the technically curious, PHEM checks for "VFS Support".) There are two steps to enabling memory-card emulation:

First, a special library must be installed into the virtual Palm, that provides "Host Filesystem" support. If this library has not been installed into the emulated Palm, you will be presented with a screen that explains this and the option to install the library. If you choose "Install HostFS", then the library will be loaded in the Palm and the virtual device will be rebooted to enable it.

Once the reboot completes, return to the "Card Emulation" menu. This will display the directory which appears inside the Palm as a memory card, and allows you to 'mount' and 'unmount' the card (essentially like inserting and removing an SD card from a real Palm PDA).

Special notes about storage emulation:

Full details about card emulation here.

Advanced Settings

Settings icon

Generally speaking, there shouldn't be much reason to mess with these. The defaults are pretty solid. But if you want to experiment, feel free.

Note: Changes won't be applied until you hit the "Apply" button. The "Apply" button only appears if you've made a change to the current settings.

About PHEM

About icon

Basic information about PHEM, along with links to this manual.

Other Features

PHEM has a few features to make using a Palm more convenient on an Android device.

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