News: We have a Discord server! Well it has actually existed for a few months, but until now we haven't really used it. We now intend to change that, so please join to get support with installation and setup, to discuss ideas and proposals for new functionality or to just hang out with other users. We (the developers) will try to be there every now and then, mostly in afternoons and evenings in the CET time zone. Join here:

EmulationStation Desktop Edition (ES-DE) is a frontend application for browsing and launching games from your multi-platform game collection.

It comes preconfigured for use primarily with RetroArch although it's fully customizable and can be used to launch any emulator or application that you have installed.

It's free and open source and will remain so forever.

It's also true multi-platform and runs on numerous operating systems such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Manjaro, Fedora, FreeBSD, macOS and Windows.

Donations are very much appreciated to support the development!


Modern and attractive user interface
Full controller navigation support
Preconfigured for over a 100 different game systems

ES-DE System View

Ships preconfigured - minimal setup required

Simple to use, you'll be retrogaming within minutes

Still highly configurable if you prefer to customize your setup

ES-DE Gamelist View

Built-in scraper for downloading game info and game media

Supports scraping of both images and videos

Lots of scraper configuration options

ES-DE Scraper

Ships with a comprehensive theme set

Still fully themeable so you can adapt it to the look you prefer

Backwards compatible with all RetroPie ES themes

ES-DE Theme Support

The screenshot above shows a modified version of the Fundamental theme.


The latest version is 1.1.0 (released 2021-08-10)

Ubuntu 20.04 to 21.04, Linux Mint 20, possibly others


Fedora 33 Workstation, possibly others


Raspberry Pi 4 (Raspberry Pi OS) - preview release



This release is not well tested, has graphical glitches and possibly other bugs, but should hopefully still be good enough for daily use. ES-DE v1.2 will most likely bring official support for the Raspberry Pi.

macOS 10.14 "Mojave" to 11 "Big Sur"


If using a Mac with an ARM CPU (e.g. M1) you need to install the x86 version of RetroArch and any other emulators, or you won't be able to launch any games. This will be fixed whenever a native macOS ARM build of ES-DE is released.

Legacy macOS 10.11 "El Capitan" to 10.13 "High Sierra"


Due to technical reasons v1.0.1 will be the last legacy macOS release

Windows 10 and 8.1



No binary distribution available for your operating system? ES-DE supports many more systems, but for the time being you will need to compile from source code. A detailed guide is available here describing this process step-by-step.

Refer to the Changelog for information about the ES-DE releases. This document also includes  a list of known issues.

When upgrading from version 1.0 to 1.1 it's recommended to re-scrape the images in your collection as ES-DE v1.0 downscaled the files pretty aggressively while v1.1 tries to retain the original resolution (up to a certain point). This is somehow important as it will affect the quality of the miximage generation which is a major feature of the v1.1 release.

As v1.1 auto-configures all controllers you need to re-run the input configuration if you want to customize your button layout. (Controller configuration is an optional step as of v1.1)


This video shows how to install ES-DE on Linux (Kubuntu). It's however also applicable to Ubuntu and other Linux distributions. As of ES-DE v1.1 no workaround is required any longer if you've installed the Flatpak version of RetroArch.

This video shows how to install ES-DE on macOS, and should be applicable to all macOS versions supported by ES-DE.

This video shows how to install ES-DE on Windows 10 although it's also applicable to Windows 8.1. As of ES-DE v1.1 you no longer need to set the Path variable manually as RetroArch will be auto-detected.

There is also a comprehensive user guide available that explains many more installation options as well as all application settings:

Source code and additional info


The ES-DE repository is hosted on GitLab, head over there for a lot of additional information. The Kanban board is where you can see the development progress and report bugs. (It's also OK to send bug reports via email.)


ES-DE by itself does not provide any emulators, instead it's mostly relying on RetroArch for this. So in order to have a working retrogaming setup, you need RetroArch installed as well.


One of the most important features provided by ES-DE is the ability to scrape for game information and game media. Two scraper services are supported, TheGamesDB and ScreenScraper. Without a doubt, ScreenScraper is the primary service as the quality of their data is superior. It's a good idea to register an account as their service is frequently closed for non-registered users. Please also consider giving them some financial support for their work.


Please donate to support this independent open-source software development project!

(The PayPal button is the actual link to the donations.)

Your donation will be used wisely to be able to support additional hardware as well as to cover running costs. You can make a one-time donation or recurring donations, whatever you prefer. If you can't or don't want to donate, then that's fine too.