RetroPie Tips and Resources

RetroPie book is below – Not available in stores

The sections below will guide you through implementing various tips that may be helpful with RetroPie. There are always new things to learn, tweaks to be made or updates to install which will improve your experience. Getting the most out of RetroPie is a learning process that is best shared with others, hence this page. If you find a great tip not found below, please share it in a video comment or Facebook message (link at the bottom of every page). Let’s get started!

Helpful links

The following are a list of helpful resource that you may want to become familiar with.

  • RetroPie Website – Here you can download the RetroPie image, collaborate with others on the forums and much more.
  • Raspberry Pi 4 kits – If you don’t already have a Raspberry Pi 4, controllers or hardware already, this link can help.
  • RetroPie Software Setup – If you need help getting RetroPie setup and running on your Raspberry Pi, click here for a tutorial+video.

Common Questions

Below are answers to some questions you may have outside of the tips you find on this page.

  • How do I setup/install RetroPie? Please see this.
  • How do I setup my Controller? Please see this.
  • How do I setup WiFi on RetroPie? Please see this.
  • How do I install games/roms to RetroPie? Please see this.
  • Can I add ARCADE controllers to my Pi? Certainly! You don’t have to use the SNES/SNES/Analog controllers exclusively. You can enhance your setup using an Arcade Joystick + control panel like this one. If you want, I have a button sheet that you can print/cut and place under the lighted buttons (I personally like this approach). You can find the sheet here. Once you’re comfortable with this project, you can add this into your own custom Arcade cabinet if you so choose! However, I recommend starting off with USB controllers until you are comfortable with the basic RetroPie operation and setup.
  • I want to add an Arcade Joystick, Spinner, Trackball and/or a Tron Joystick to my build, can you help? Certainly! Here’s a more advanced solution that isn’t hard to build. The 3D models you download are free and created by yours truly. It does require access to a 3D Printer: OpenCADE. The videos on that page will step you through the entire process and when you’re done you’ll have an Arcade console built the way you want it!
  • Can you do this that or the other? This page will be growing over the next several weeks/months. If you haven’t done so already, subscribe and click the bell icon if you want to be notified of video updates. Please comment in a video with what you’d like to see if you don’t find it here already. I will be taking on new ideas in small chunks with supporting tutorials and video content. You can also bookmark this page to see what’s new at any time.

RetroPie Tips

Great! You got through all the above questions, you’re ready for some tips. Here goes… If you want to see more tips or have a specific request, please comment in the video and I’ll add it to my To-Do list! What appears on this page is indeed driven by you!

Companion Video to assist with many of the tips below

The following are various tips that you will find helpful for getting the most out of RetroPie on the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. The steps following steps assume you have already installed RetroPie, if you haven’t start here (then come back to this). Many of these tips are also be applicable to earlier Raspberry Pi models (i.e. 3 or 3b+). However, if the tip is Raspberry Pi 4-specific, it will be noted as such within the tip.

Scrape Box Art

After copying your games, one of the first things you’re likely want to do is download the box art for them. The process of doing this is called “scraping”. RetroPie allows you to easily scrape the artwork for individual game consoles or all of them. In the following, I’ll show you how to scape the box art for the Playstation.

Get Box Art

  • Press the START button on your controller.
  • Press the ‘A’ button on the SCRAPPER option.
  • Move down to the SCRAPE NOW option and press the ‘A’ button.
  • By default, all systems are selected. If you want box art for all systems leave the SYSTEMS option as-is. *NOTE – It may take a considerable amount of time to download box art for all systems if you have several games.
  • If you want to select only one system, press the ‘A’ button on SYSTEMS. Move down to the bottom and SELECT NONE to clear all previous selections. Then move up and press ‘A’ on those systems you want to scrape. Then, press the ‘B’ button to go back.
  • On the option that states USER DECIDES ON CONFLICTS, press the ‘A’ button to turn this off. Otherwise, if box art already exists it will prompt you on what to do which will suspend processing of the box art until handle the conflict.
  • Move down to the START button and the box art will be downloaded.
  • That’s it!

Install and Apply new Themes

After installing RetroPie, there is only one theme pre-installed called CARBON. A theme alters the look and feel of the RetroPie interface. For example, a theme can alter the images for the emulators, change the location where game information resides, fonts and much more. Fortunately, it’s very to install additional themes and even easier to switch from one to the other.

Install Theme

  • Go to the RetroPie option and press ‘A’ on the controller.
  • Move down to ES THEMES and press ‘A’.
  • Using the keyboard, move up/down and highlight a theme to install and press ENTER.
  • Once done, tab over to the Cancel button and press ENTER.

Apply a Theme

  • Press START on your controller.
  • Select the UI SETTINGS option and press ‘A’.
  • Select THEME SET and press ‘A’.
  • Select the theme you want and press the ‘B’ button to go back and the theme will now be applied.
  • If you want to revert back to the original theme that shipped with RetroPie, simply repeat the steps above but select the CARBON theme.
  • That’s it!

Create a Favorites Game List

In this section, we will create a Favorites, Last Played and All Games option from in Emulation Station. This will allow you to easily launch games which appear in your favorites list without having to navigate first to the console and look up the name of the game.

Add Favorites Menu

  • Press START on your controller.
  • Select ALL GAMES, FAVORITES or LAST PLAYED and press the ‘A’ button on each that you wish to activate.
  • Then go back three times (press the ‘B’ button 3 times).
  • You will now see options on the screen for the options you selected above.

Manage Favorites

  • Navigate to the game you wish to add by highlighting it and press ‘Y’. You will see a brief message stating the game was added to your favorites.
  • To remove a game from your favorites, highlight the game and press ‘Y’ to remove it from the list.

Remote connect to RetroPie from PC

If you want to establish a remote command-line session from your PC to RetroPie, you’ll first need to enable SSH in RetroPie. Doing this will allow to remotely perform a number of commands easily without having to type the commands directly on the Pi. For example, you can run cooling tests, update RetroPie, restart the system and much more. This option is not enabled by default, so follow these steps:

Enable SSH

  • Boot up your RetroPie image.
  • From the RetroPie option, select RASPI-CONFIG and press A on your controller.
  • Select the Interfacing Options on the menu.
  • Then, select SSH (2nd option) to enable remote command line access using SSH.
  • You will then be prompted if you Would like the SSH server to be enabled? Select Yes.
  • You’ll then be informed that the SSH server has been enabled. Select OK, then Finish.
  • Lastly, restart RetroPie by pressing the Start button on your controller and select Quit. Then select Restart System to reboot your Raspberry Pi.
  • Once RetroPie has fully rebooted, proceed to the next step to identify your IP address.

IP Address

Before you can connect, you need to know the IP address on the Raspberry Pi running RetroPie. This is a number in the format of “###.###.###.###”. Every computer connected to a TCP network will have an IP address. When you connected RetroPie to your WiFi router, an IP address was assigned to it. You need to know this address for the next step, here’s how to find it:

  • From the RetroPie option, select SHOW IP and press A on your controller.
  • Make note of Your IP address, you’ll need this to connect from your PC (see example below).

Connect with PuTTY

If you followed the steps above, SSH should now be enabled on RetroPie. Having SSH enabled will allow you to remote connect to RetroPie and perform command-line operations, such as those found on this page and easily copy/paste the commands into the SSH window and execute them on your Pi.

  • Download PuTTY from here.
  • Launch PuTTY and enter your Pi’s IP address in the field Host Name (or IP address). See above if you’re not sure what your IP address is.
  • Make sure port is set for 22 and the Connection type is SSH.
  • You can save the session settings above by typing a name in the Saved Sessions field, example “RetroPie46” and then click the Save button.
  • Next, click the Open button to establish a connection to your Raspberry Pi running RetroPie.
  • You may see a dialog indicating “the host key is not cached”, simply click the Yes button at this prompt.
  • For the login as : prompt, type “pi” without quotes and press ENTER.
  • The password will be “raspberry” without quotes, press ENTER.
  • Congratulations, you can now issue commands you find below easily by simply pasting them into this SSH window!

*NOTE – If you prefer not to remote connect to your RetroPie or can’t do so for any reason, you can alternately press START on RetroPie, select Quit and then Quit Emulation Station. This will exit to a command-line where you can manually type any commands.

Helpful Commands

The following are some helpful commands that you can use from a command-line (PuTTY) connection to your RetroPie. The advantage to using PuTTY is that you can easily copy/paste these commands instead of re-typing them directly on the Pi. Of course, you can type them in directly if you prefer.

(copy command and right-click to paste in window)
Enter RetroPie Setupsudo /home/pi/RetroPie-Setup/
Enter Raspi-Configsudo raspi-config
Terminate the PuTTY connectionexit
Reboot the Pisudo reboot
Check CPU TemperaturesSee this

Change the Splash Screen

If you want to customize the image that you see on boot of your Raspberry Pi, this tip is for you! You can use your own artwork, in the steps below I’ll use the Wagner’s TechTalk logo as an example. You’re welcome to experiment with this image (after clicking the link, right-click on the image and select Save As) if you want to give it a try.

Copy an Image

  • On your computer, browse to your Raspberry Pi by typing “\\[your ip address here]” (no quotes) and press ENTER.
  • Double-click the splashscreens share.
  • Copy/paste your image into this share. If you want an example, you’re welcome to use this image (after clicking the link, right-click on the image and select Save As) if you want to give it a try.

Change Boot Image

  • On the Raspberry Pi, select the RetroPie menu.
  • Select Configuration / tools.
  • Select splashscreen – Configure Splashscreen from the list.
  • Select Choose splashscreen.
  • Select Own/Extra splashscreens (from /home/pi/RetroPie/splashscreens)
  • Select the image and press ENTER on the OK button.
  • Back out of the tool by pressing ENTER, CANCEL, BACK, EXIT.

Check it out

  • Press START on your controller.
  • Select QUIT.
  • Press ‘A’ on YES.
  • You should now see your new splashscreen with RetroPie boots!

Backup your Image

If you have installed a lot of games, scrapped the artwork or made any changes to the base RetroPie install, you may want to make an image backup. This image is also useful if you’re upgrading your microSD card. For example, if you were previously using a 32GB microSD and want to move to a larger capacity microSD, you first make a backup image. Then, restore the image to the new microSD card. This would save a lot of time in re-copying all the games, artwork, etc. to the new microSD.

Why make a backup?

  • If you’ve already installed a lot of games, artwork, etc. you may want to keep a safe backup in case of any future issues you won’t have to re-install/setup everything again.
  • If you’re moving from a lower capacity microSD card to a larger one, make a backup copy of your existing microSD, then restore the backup to the new microSD an expand the file system. Much faster than doing it all manually again.
  • Before running a major update to the OS or RetroPie, might be good to have a safe backup image.

Backup Procedure

  • Download and install Win32 Disk imager from here.
  • Launch Win32 Disk imager and select the browse folder icon to select the location where the read image should be saved.
  • Enter a name for the image and click the Open button.
  • Click the Read button to read the microSD image and save it to the filename you specified.

Restore an Image

This section will describe how to restore a previously backed up image.

When to Restore

  • When migrating from a lesser capacity microSD card to a larger one.
  • After any serious problems have occurred when updating the OS/RetroPie or SD card corruption that can’t easily be resolved.

Restore Procedure

  • Download and install Win32 Disk imager from here.
  • Launch Win32 Disk imager and select the browse folder icon to select the location of your previously backed up image and click the Open button.
  • Click the Write button to write the image to the microSD card.
  • Once completed, click the OK button and exit Win32 Disk imager.
  • Install the microSD card into the Raspberry Pi and power it on.
  • If you are simply restoring a previous image with the same size microSD card, you can stop here. If you are upgrading your microSD card to a larger capacity read on…
  • From the RetroPie menu, select RASPI-CONFIG.
  • Select the Advanced Options (#7).
  • Select Expand Filesystem.
  • Press ENTER on the OK prompt.
  • Press TAB over to the Finish button and press ENTER.
  • Press ENTER on the Yes button and your Raspberry Pi will now reboot and expand the filesystem.

Add Emulators

redream emulator (Dreamcast) on RetroPie

There are a number of emulators that are not pre-installed for you but you may be interested in installing. In this section, we’ll use the Dreamcast emulator as an example of one you might want to install.

Install additional Emulators

  • On the Raspberry Pi, select the RetroPie menu.
  • Move down to Manage packages and press ENTER.
  • Select Manage experimental packages and press ENTER.
  • Scroll down to the emulator you wish to install, in this case we’ll select redream (Dreamcast emulator) and press ENTER.
  • Next, press enter on the option Install from pre-compiled binary.
  • When prompted Are you sure you want to Install from pre-compiled binary? Select Yes and press ENTER.
  • Then select Back, Back, Back and Exit.
  • Press START on your controller.
  • Move down to QUIT and press the ‘A’ button.
  • Select RESTART EMULATIONSTATION and press the ‘A’ button.
  • Press ‘A’ on Yes to confirm and Emulation Station will be restarted and the Dreamcast emulator should be available.

*NOTE – For Dreamcast, will need to copy 2 BIOS files to the bios share ( \\[your ip address] \bios ) which are: dc_boot.bin and dc_flash.bin. Then copy your games to a sub folder located at \\[your ip address]\roms\dreamcast . Then, restart Emulation Station after adding your games.

Install RetroPie Web Manager

In this tip, we’ll install an experimental package called RetroPie Web manager. This handy utility will allow you to monitor the CPU Temperature, the CPU utilization, copy roms/bios files and much more. You can do more with this tool then what is shown in the tip video. It is definitely a tool worth checking out. Below you’ll find the instructions on how to install it.

BONUS: There is a Chrome browser extension called Super Auto Refresh Plus which will allow you to automatically refresh the page every few seconds. This is a handy way to monitor CPU Temperature and processor utilization when used with RetroPie Web Manager.

Install RetroPie Web Manager

  • On the Raspberry Pi, select the RetroPie menu.
  • Move down to Update RetroPie-Setup script and press enter.
  • When prompted “Are you sure you want to update the RetroPie-Setup Script ?” select Yes and press ENTER.
  • Press ENTER on the OK confirmation and ENTER one more time on the notice dialog.
  • Move down to Manage packages and press ENTER.
  • Select Manage experimental packages and press ENTER.
  • Scroll down towards the bottom of the list and select retropie-manager and press ENTER.
  • Select Install from Source and press ENTER on OK.
  • Select Yes when prompted “Are you sure you want to Install from source?
  • The update will be downloaded & compiled.
  • Select Back three times.
  • Select Configuration / tools and press ENTER.
  • Scroll down to retropie-manager and press ENTER.
  • Press ENTER on Start RetroPie Manager now.
  • If you want RetroPie Web Manager to start on boot, move down to the option Enable RetroPie-Manager on Boot and press ENTER.
  • Press ENTER on the confirmation dialog.
  • Press ENTER on Cancel.
  • Press ENTER on Back.
  • Press ENTER on Exit.
  • That’s it!

RetroPie updates

Update RetroPie

It’s a good idea to keep your RetroPie up-to-date. The instructions below will help you through this easy but important process. Keep in mind, it’s recommended that you have previously created a full backup of your RetroPie microSD before running the update (as described here). Should you encounter any issues, you could always restore your backup before the update.

Update RetroPie

  • On the Raspberry Pi, select the RetroPie menu.
  • Select UPDATE.
  • Select Yes when prompted “Are you sure you want to update installed packages?” and press ENTER.
  • After the update tool has Fetched the latest RetroPie Setup script, press ENTER on the OK button.
  • Press ENTER again on the information dialog.
  • If you have made a full backup image and want to update the underlying OS packages, select Yes and press ENTER (this may take considerably longer). Otherwise, select No and press ENTER.
  • The updates will be applied. When you see the confirmation dialog stating “Installed packages have been updated.”, press ENTER.
  • At this point, it is recommended you select the Perform reboot option and press ENTER on OK.

Check CPU Temperature

If you want to monitor the CPU temperature you can issue the command below. It is easier to remote connect using PuTTY (instructions here), perform your test and see the results. This Stress Test Command will run for 15 minutes and report the CPU temperature every 10 seconds and then stop after 15 minutes has expired. This will give you enough time to play the game and then see how the temperature fluctuated during game-play.

Command to issue

while true; do vcgencmd measure_clock arm; vcgencmd measure_temp; sleep 10; done& stress -c 4 -t 900s 

Collect Temperature Data

  • Select and Copy the command content above to the clipboard.
  • Launch PuTTY and login.
  • Right-click in the PuTTY window, this will paste the command into the window, then press ENTER.
  • Launch the task you’re testing (i.e. play a game, etc.)
  • After 15 minutes examine the window to see the results of the CPU temperature results.

Output Example

I used the Vilros Retro Gaming kit for this test. That is, heat-sinks were applied and the fan was connected and running per the manufacturers recommendation. Below are the temperatures that were recorded. On average, the CPU temperature was around 36’C.

CPU Temperature with Vilros Kit (heat-sinks and fan)