Setup Retropie and Pixel Desktop

Setup Retropie and Pixel Desktop Step-by-Step for Raspberry Pi 3


If you are wanting to use your Raspberry Pi for old retro games and the ability to use a desktop you’re in luck.  These are the steps I took to make it possible.
Please Note I’m using Windows as the go-to part for formatting the MicroSD card and this Tutorial is laid out for the Raspberry Pi 3 B version.

This is a complete tutorial to start you off good with the ability to navigate the Pixel Desktop and adding Roms to start playing.  I just wished this tut existed when I started.

Download the OS and Disk Imager

  1. So the first thing you are going to need to do is to download RetroPie OS.  You can get it here:
    Just make sure you choose the correct one for your Raspberry Pi.
  2. You are going to need to download win32diskimager.  You can get it here:
    Win32 Disk Imager for free. A Windows tool for writing images to USB sticks or SD/CF cards. This program is designed to write a raw disk image to a removable device or backup a removable device to a raw image file. It is very useful for embedded development, namely, Arm development projects.

Format the MicroSD Card

  1. Your next step is to put your MicroSD card into the Adapter and plug it into your computer.
  2. You will need to format it correctly.  To do this please follow my instructions carefully so you don’t format the wrong drives and only your MicroSD card.
  • Check the drive letter of the MicroSD card.  Please keep this in your mind as you will need to remember it later.
  • Search For CMD, right-click it and run as administrator.
  • Type Diskpart.exe
  • Type list disk
  • Type select disk “n” replace “n”   (with the number of your SD Card)
  • Type clean  (Than press Enter)

This will give you an idea of what you will see.

Add Retropie OS using Disk Imager

  • Install win32diskimager.exe if you haven’t already and open it. Note: Run as administrator.
  • Locate your retropie.img you downloaded.
  • Make sure the device is the drive letter of your MicroSD and click Write.
  • When done just Exit
    Note:  If you did it correctly the MicroSD should now say boot.
  • Now plug in your MicroSD into your Raspberry Pi and turn it on.

Should look something like this!

  • Now close win32diskimager.exe
  • Go to Start / Computer and check to see if your SD card say’s Boot.
  • At the bottom of your taskbar, you will see an icon called (Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media) click it and Eject your MicroSD
  • Now plug it into your Pi

Retropie Setup

If you have done everything correctly you should see this splash screen logo.  But if you get a blank screen Just follow the steps again.
So this part I cannot show screenshots of the fact that I do not own a capture card but I will make it exactly on what you should see.

Install Pixel Desktop and (Kodi Optional)

  • You should be prompt to put in a controller. Scroll down to Keyboard Mapping in RetroPie and after that come back to this. Not Defined information is at the bottom of the table.
  • You will need to connect to your internet.
    LAN: Plug in the internet cable.
    WIFI: Go to: RetroPie / WiFi / Connect to Wifi network and find your network and add your key.
  • Next, your keyboard needs the layout changed if your in Canada and the US.  To do this please follow exactly here:
    Go to: RetroPie / Raspi-Config / Localization Options / Change Keyboard Layout / Generic 104-Key PC / English (US) / The default for the Keyboard layout / No compose key / Yes
  • Save and Reboot.  If you can’t just Save and Exit.  Now press F4 and type in “sudo reboot”.
  • After restart and RetroPie loaded Press F4 to enter the terminal.
  • Type: sudo apt-get install lightdm
  • Type: sudo reboot
  • When prompted for a controller press F4 again on your keyboard
  • Type: sudo ~/RetroPie-Setup/
  • On the blue screen go here:
  1. Configuration / tools
  2. raspbiantools
  3. Install Pixel desktop environment
    If you want to install Kodi continue or skip to Step 7.
  4. Back up to: Manage packages
  5. Manage optional packages
  6. Install Kodi
  7. Exit.   It should ask for a reboot.  Do it.

Keyboard Mapping in RetroPie

After a reboot, you will need to have a controller so you can navigate Emulation Station.   You can also hold a key down on the keyboard to map the keyboard keys.  So will do that part now.

Configure Input
Hold the Enter Key till the menu pops up.

Map Keys Your Keyboard Keys
D-Pad Up Arrow Up
D-Pad Down Arrow Down
D-Pad Left Arrow Left
D-Pad Right Arrow Right
Start Left Control
Select Left Alt
A Enter
 Left Shoulder  1
 Right Shoulder  2
 Left Trigger  3
 Right Trigger  4
 Left Thumb  5
 Right Thumb  6
 Left Analog Up Not Defined
Left Analog Down Not Defined
Left Analog Left Not Defined
Left Analog Right Not Defined
Right Analog Not Defined
Right Analog Not Defined
Right Analog Not Defined
Right Analog Not Defined
HotKey Enable Windows key

Not Defined   Press both the 1 and 2 as a combo for Not Defined.
Now Press Enter or left on the Arrow key.

Remove Black Borders

  • Now the keyboard is defined, navigate to RetroPie and press Enter.
  • Press Enter on Raspi-Config
  • You should be back on the blue screen.  Go to Advanced Options
  • Overscan
  • It will say: Would you like to enable compensation for displays with overscan?  Say No! and press enter.
  • It should say disabled.  Now type finish and reboot.

Updates in the Pixel Desktop

  • You should now be back at the Retropie screen.  Now you can navigate to Ports.
  • Press enter on Virtual Desktop

Welcome to your desktop.

Here is the place you can add your Roms or do with as you please.  Example.  This is what mine looks like.

Lets Update

  • You will need to do some Updates.  Open the terminal
  • Type: sudo apt-get update
  • Type: sudo apt-get dust-upgrade
  • Type: sudo apt-get upgrade
    If you’are wondering why both upgrades its to make sure nothing is missing.
  • Type: sudo reboot

Lets Add Roms

First things first.  It’s recommended that you use a flash drive and extract them from your computer before bringing them to the Raspberry Pi Desktop.  It makes is so much easier to deal with and you cannot extract zip files without tweaks.

Not my place to tell you where to get your Roms.  I would say do it legally and I recommend that.  But if you need to go the dark rout I’m sure you can find what you’re looking for.
If you think I’ll tell you where to get them sorry.  My site doesn’t promote illegal actions.  But however, I will tell you where you can dump them.

  • Now go back to the Desktop.
  • Beside the raspberry icon (start orb) click on the folder icon on the taskbar.
  • Navigate to /home/pi/RetroPie/roms
    This is where you will be able to dump all your roms.
  • When you have your roms ready just click the raspberry icon (start orb)
  • Click Shutdown/Reboot.
    Note: Exit to command line brings you back to the Emulation Station.  I find that handy!

Navigate RetroArch

Open RetroArch
To navigate RetroArch press your HotKey + X and should bring up the menu.

Save/Load State
This is where you can see all sorts of settings and the best part ever.   Save States.  To find that go to Quick Menu and Save/Load State
This will help you on games that kicking your butt.

If you want to view your Achievements you can view them from Quick Menu / Achievement List.
Note not all games will display Achievements but if they do you will see the list there.   To setup, Achievements scroll down to RetroAchievements

Take Screenshot
Quick Menu / Take Screenshot
You can find your Screenshots located at:  /home/pi/.config/retroarch/screenshots

Show FPS
Settings / Video / Display Framerate (On)

Quit RetroArch
If you press Hotkey + Start it will boot you to the menu.
I recommend just doing this instead.  Quit RetroArch

There is plenty more you can do.  Just don’t play with settings you do not understand as they can break your game.


RetroAchievements are a way to log your achievements on old-school console games. It is integrated into RetroArch and is only supported by select cores.

You first need to create an account at and then add your credentials to /opt/retropie/configs/all/retroarch.cfg
Some of the options that are added are located at the bottom if you want to know what they do and you can decide to remove them if you wish.

#RetroAchievements Account
cheevos_username = "yourusername"
cheevos_password = "yourpassword"
cheevos_enable = true
#RetroAchievements Account
cheevos_verbose_enable = true
cheevos_leaderboards_enable = true

The Hardcore Mode disables the savestates and is optional. If you want to enable it add this line too:

cheevos_hardcore_mode_enable = true

If you want to see some more RetroAchievements related message right after launching a game (such as successful login and the number of cheevos you have unlocked) you can use the Achievements Verbose Mode:

cheevos_verbose_enable = true

Since RetroArch 1.6.8 the RetroAchievements Leaderboards feature is also supported. You can enable it with this config:

cheevos_leaderboards_enable = true

Supported Systems:

  • NES
  • SNES
  • Mega Drive / Genesis
  • Game Boy
  • Game Boy Color
  • Game Boy Advance
  • PC Engine
  • Master System
  • Nintendo 64
  • Atari Lynx
  • Neo Geo Pocket
  • Neo Geo Pocket Color
  • Atari 2600
  • Nintendo Virtual Boy
  • A libretro core compatibility list with RetroAchievements can be found in libretro docs.

RetroAchievements Messages

A common user question is “How do I increase the size of the RetroAchievements messages on RetroArch?”.

Actually, this configuration is done by changing the font size of all the RetroArch messages, not only the RetroAchievements related ones. How to do it:

Open the file /opt/retropie/configs/all/retroarch.cfg and change the line with video_font_size.  Values between 26-32 should be good on a 40″ TV.

If you are used to configuring RetroArch with RGUI (not the default on RetroPie), you can go to Settings -> Onscreen Display -> OSD Message Size and change it.

The original source of RetroAchievements is from:

PlayStation Controller Setup for PSX Games

If you are like me and you want to use an original layout of a Playstation controller the PS3 controller is best for the original PlayStation games (PSX)

The first thing to do is map your PS3 controller as the layout of an Xbox controller.

Xbox One / Xbox 360  PS3 Controller
X Square
Y Triangle
Guide Button PS Button

Make sure that the Guide or PS buttons are the HotKey buttons for RetroArch menu.  You get the concept idea.   Now load a PSX game.

  • When a game is loaded press the PS button + Square button together to open the RetroArch menu.
  • Click Quick Menu
  • Controls
  • Follow exactly as I have it.
Left Side Right Side
User 1 Cross A button (right)
User 1 Square X button (top)
User 1 Circle B button (down)
User 1 Triangle Y button (left)

Leave the rest.  Now your buttons should be exactly placed as they should be in the game.

Add DosBox to RetroArch

Do you like old PC games?  So do I.

  • Go to RetroPie Tab
  • Click RetroPie Setup
  • Click Manage Packages
  • Click Manage Optional Packages
  • Install Dosbox
  • Reboot

Now you can /home/pi/RetroPie/roms and dump your PC DOS games into the Pc folder.


Source of this info is found here:

Scraping is a way to get metadata and boxart for your games from the internet. The scrapers RetroPie uses pull primarily from If the scraper isn’t working either you are not connected to the Internet or is down (which happens quite frequently) and in that case you’ll just have to wait until it comes back up.

  1. First, you need to have internet for this to work.  So click on RetroPie tab.
  2. Click on Wifi or plug in a LAN  If you have LAN skip to 7.
  3. Connect to Wifi network
  4. Click your Wifi name
  5. Ente your Wifi password.
  6. Exit
  7. If you followed my Keyboard layout press F4 or CLRL / Quit / Quit EmulationStation / Yes
  8. Type: sudo ~/RetroPie-Setup/
  9. Manage packages
  10. Manage optional packages
  11. Scroll to the bottom and click on scraper.
  12. Install it.
  13. Click Configuration / Options
  14. Now, this depends on you.   I have a 128GB MicroSD card and I have plenty of room on the card to store the images.   If you don’t you will need to rely on your internet connection to show you the images.  This means if the site is down, you will not be able to get the images.  However, if you have the room I recommend enabling (Use rom folder for gamelist & images)  They will show offline and load faster.
  15. Press Scrape all systems.
  16. When done Edit and type in
sudo reboot

You now need to choose a theme.  I use CRT because it’s a nice layout.

  1. Go to RetroPie tab.
  2. ES Themes
  3. You can view the gallery if you wish
  4. If you want my theme check to see if you have CRT installed from the list.   CRT is found around line 45 called:
    The other is authonnycaccese/crt-centered
  5. Once installed Exit
  6. If you followed my keyboard layout press Ctrl or Start on your keyboard or controller.
  7. Click UI Settings
  8. Gamelist View Style Detailed.  If greyed out choose a theme that is not like CRT located in Theme Set.
  9. Press Back to Apply changes.

You’re setup to Enjoy your Pi

This was one long tutorial that took me a few days to build.   I wanted to go through all the small details to make sure you come out strong and enjoy your new mini gaming computer with the ability to have a desktop.  Even for me, In the future, if I forget this tutorial can help me again.

Please share this post with others so they can enjoy it like you.    Remember.   There are plenty others I have left out like other emulators to settings, because you need to make it the way you want.  You should check out my Raspberry Pi page for other things that can get you more information to applications for Pixel Desktop.

Click the image to enter the page or click here: Enter

Spread the word. Share this post!

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *