This information also applies to Tagmo outside of competitive amiibo usage, such as speedrunning Breath of the Wild. Tagmo does not function in place of NTAG215 chips: you will have to buy chips even if you have Tagmo. As of yet there are no widely-available programs that allow you to directly emulate amiibo from your Android phone, but an app called Joy-Con Droid works for a very small number of Android phones.
If you haven’t installed Tagmo yet, read this step-by-step guide to install Tagmo from start to finish.
If you haven’t installed Powersaves for Amiibo yet, read this step-by-step guide to install Powersaves for Amiibo from start to finish.
How amiibo really work
Amiibo figures are actually just a $0.30 chip inside of a plastic figure, and the rest of the computing is performed by the game itself. The chip itself is an “NTAG215” chip, and you can order them from China by the dozen for a few bucks.
These chips are incredibly lightweight and don’t have much storage space on them. Thanks to that fact, most NFC readers can read these chips and edit the data on them if need be. The data on an amiibo is referred to as a .bin file. It’s just a plain ol’ spreadsheet that the game interprets.
NTAG215 chips are all pretty much the same and come from the same factory, so we took the time to find sellers that consistently charge less for the chips. Amiibo Doctor recommends this Amazon seller for NTAG215 chips. Amiibo Doctor gets a commission from the Amazon Affiliates program, so thank you for keeping us alive!
The amiibo file system used by Tagmo and Powersaves
In order to get your amiibo file to the amiibo tournament, you have to take the .bin file off of your amiibo figure or other NTAG chip functioning as an amiibo. There are two popular tools to do that, but they might cost you some money if you don’t already have them. You only need one of these, and they have mostly overlapping functionality.
- Android with NFC equipment and Tagmo: pretty much every Android phone that can read NFC in some form can read a physical amiibo. Using the Tagmo app you can also save the amiibo as files on your phone, which you can then send to a tournament organizer using a file manager.
- Datel Powersaves: this sucker plugs in to your PC (I believe a Mac update was recently pushed out as well) and edits your amiibo in much the same way as Tagmo. Unlike Tagmo, you have to get sneaky with your files to move them: going to your folder named “Powersaves for AMIIBO” will show you all your bin files that you’ve previously saved. These are generally only $25.
- iPhone with NFC Tools: Entirely separate piece of equipment, but will still create .bin files. Guide available here.
There is an iPhone alternative with fewer features than Tagmo. It’s available here.
These files are hosted by someone else – you’ll need them to run Tagmo, but I do not own these files and I am not hosting them. You assume all potential liability when downloading these files.
Tagmo is not an app that you can find on the Google Play store. Instead, you’ll need to download the .apk file and install it using a generic APK Installer app (that you can find on the Google Play store). Simply take your APK Installer app of choice, locate the .apk file for Tagmo, and install that file. Tagmo will then function on your phone the same as any other app, because it is any other app. Tagmo is completely safe. I have used it for several years on several different phones and have never had a single issue with security or damaging my phone.
The unfixed-info and locked-secret files are basically decryption instructions for amiibo. While the actual information on amiibo decryption is a trade secret owned only by Nintendo, some smart people figured out how to do it and Tagmo makes use of that. In order to protect you legally, the decryption files are also encrypted. Ironic, that.
Once you install Tagmo, go to the gear in the top-right corner. That’s your settings menu. Press Load keys, and find your unfixed-info and locked secret files (probably in your Downloads folder) and tap them, and they’ll be added to Tagmo from now on. After this point, you can scan an amiibo and save them freely.
If it gives you a “key file signature does not match” message, place the unfixed-info and locked-secret files on your internal storage. Tagmo doesn’t play nice with SD cards sometimes.
Tagmo’s menu options are confusing at first. These are what the menu options all mean.
“Load Tag” – if you already have an amiibo file on your phone, you use this option to find that file with the built-in file explorer.
“Scan Tag” – if your phone’s NFC is turned on, hold an amiibo figure or card or NTAG chip and it will bring up the data on that chip. This and Load Tag are the most basic functions of Tagmo, the rest of the options deal with the amiibo that is now “active” in the white box above the options.
“Save Tag” – this makes a file of the active amiibo on your phone. If you’ve scanned a Mario amiibo with Scan Tag, this option will now save its files to your phone, in the “tagmo” folder. Once you’ve saved the file, you can then email it to a tournament from your phone. It’s a file all on its own, and exists outside of Tagmo now.
“Write Tag” – if you have an unwritten NTAG215 chip, this option will write your active amiibo file to that chip. Let’s say you’ve downloaded Mario and you want him on your brand new NTAG chip. You use Write Tag, and it will copy him onto the chip. Keep in mind that amiibo are not rewriteable, nor are their chips rewriteable. Once you make a chip a Mario, it stays as Mario. If you make it Link, it stays as Link. Everything else can change, but not its character. The only rewriteable amiibo hardware that I know of is the Powertag, which comes with the Powersaves when you buy it.
“View Hex” – most people won’t get any functionality out of this. This just breaks down the hexadecimal code of your amiibo. Ignore this unless you’re intimately familiar with amiibo editing… but if you’re reading this, you probably aren’t.
“Restore Tag” – let’s say you scanned in an amiibo and made some edits to it. (Currently only Smash 4-formatted amiibo can have edits made in-app, to my knowledge). You still have to get those changes back onto your physical figure, right? So after making those changes you press Restore Tag and put your amiibo back on the NFC point, and it will make the changes for you.
“Show/Scan QR Code” – there’s not a lot of times where you would need to use this. This just makes a QR code of your active amiibo file so others can duplicate it by scanning it. Tournaments don’t ever use QR codes, so don’t worry about this option.
“Auto save scanned tags” – does exactly what it says. You scan an amiibo, and if the box is checked then it automatically saves that file. If it’s not checked, then you have to hit “Save Tag” to make it into a file.
“Allow restore to different tag” – this… is interesting. Let’s say you have a Bowser amiibo that you trained in Smash and he likes to use his up special a lot. Check this box, and you can scan that information onto any other amiibo. Want a Jigglypuff that uses up special? Scan that Bowser and overwrite your Jigglypuff and see if it works. (Obviously, the game interprets the amiibo data so the AI has the final say on how well that works.) This option was what led to my discovery of Brain Transplants, which is a fun but seemingly useless idea.
Powersaves for Amiibo
You can buy Powersaves for amiibo from Datel through Amazon. Amiibo Doctor gets a commission as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, and we appreciate your support in keeping amiibo alive!
How to use Powersaves
Powersaves is very easy to set up: I’ve written an installation guide for it here.
Powersaves are basically the same as Tagmo but they’re missing the QR code, Hex code and Restore to Different Tag features. It’s also much harder to make use of your amiibo files. Every time you save an amiibo, it saves and reads from a “hidden” folder that is supposed to be only accessible from the Powersaves menu. You can access the folder by searching your computer for “Powersaves for AMIIBO”, and the folder should come up. It’s usually in the C: drive on Windows computers.
These are the four options for Powersaves for Amiibo, once you’ve got an amiibo or Powertag placed on the Powersaves device. (The red Power Tag option only activates with a Powertag device.) I’ll explain what they mean and how to use them.
- Backup – Makes a digital copy (called a .bin file) of the amiibo or powertag currently placed on the Powersaves device
- Restore – The inverse of Backup. It takes a .bin file and places it onto the amiibo or powertag currently placed on the Powersaves device.
- Apply Cheat – Mostly applies to Wii U and 3DS games, and is amiibo-specific. However, it has an option to scramble the “serial” number, which allows you to scan in two identical amiibo into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
- Power Tag – Exclusive to Powertags. This takes any amiibo .bin file in the Powersaves for AMIIBO folder and writes it to the Powertag.
Little things to remember/Answers to FAQs
Amiibo are very tiny files. If you had a copy of every amiibo file ever released, it would come out to maaaaaybe 1 MB. If you are on a Discord server and there is an amiibo tournament going on, you could just privately message the person your amiibo file. They’re smaller than most text messages.
You can save money on buying amiibo figures using the information outlined in Doing amiibo on a dime.
As of right now, it’s difficult to find amiibo .bin files. We have an often-updated webpage to make it easier to find websites that host .bin files located here.
Your physical figures from other series can also function as that character in Smash. If you purchased an Inkling amiibo for Splatoon 1, it works as Inkling in Ultimate. In fact, I have a list of some of these characters here. This way, you can use amiibo in Ultimate before their Smash set amiibo are released.
Tagmo is required for writing to NTAG chips. If you want to “create” your own amiibo or amiibo cards by adding chips to a figure of some kind, you’ll have to have Tagmo.
If your amiibo is “unknown” by Tagmo, it means that the app hasn’t been updated since that amiibo came out. Many of the newer Smash Ultimate amiibo have that problem. Typically they’ll function normally, but if they don’t, it may mean that you’re using an edited bin file that wasn’t properly re-encrypted.
If Tagmo can’t write to something, it could be a hardware issue with your amiibo, or your phone. Generally the issue arises from using NTAG chips that are faulty, so start checking what you’re writing to before checking your phone.
To restore to a different amiibo, press the “Allow restore to different tag” option. Do note – this can create amiibo that will brick your system if done incorrectly. Do not use this option for amiibo for different games. Restoring an Animal Crossing-formatted amiibo to Smash Ultimate may cause issues, and restoring certain Smash Ultimate amiibo to other Smash Ultimate amiibo can also cause issues.
Tagmo is only available on Android. An iPhone substitute is linked at the top of this page.