News 2021-12-02: Version 1.2 beta 2 is now available for download! This release includes support for alternative emulators, a virtual keyboard, gamelist badges that highlight favorite games, completed games etc. and an additional bundled theme named "modern-DE". Official support for the Raspberry Pi 4 / 400 is also new in v1.2 as well as scraping of additional game media images. See the Changelog for more details. As this is beta software, please report any bugs you find either at GitLab, on our Discord server or via email.

An issue has been observed where RetroArch can not be launched from ES-DE after it has been upgraded to version 1.9.13 (other versions could also be affected). If you see the RetroArch loading screen and it then immediately quits, start RetroArch separately once so it gets initialized after the upgrade. This should hopefully resolve the problem.

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
Supports 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 customizable if you prefer to tailor 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 stable version is 1.1.0 (released 2021-08-10)

The latest prerelease version is 1.2.0-beta2 (released 2021-12-02)

Windows 10 and 8.1 (probably Windows 11 as well)



macOS 10.14 "Mojave" to 12 "Monterey"



If using a Mac with an M1 processor 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 M1 build of ES-DE is released. If using Monterey it's strongly recommended to install 1.2.0-beta2 as it contains a workaround for a serious OpenGL driver bug that is present in this operating system.

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


Linux AppImage (works on most modern distributions)


Ubuntu 20.04 to 21.10, Linux Mint 20.2, possibly others



Fedora 35 Workstation, possibly others



Raspberry Pi 4 / 400 (Raspberry Pi OS)




If using FreeBSD, NetBSD or OpenBSD you need to compile from source code for the time being. A detailed guide is available here describing this process step-by-step.

If you would like to download an earlier version for any of the supported operating systems, you can find all releases at the GitLab Package Registry.

Refer to the Changelog for detailed information about each release. This document also includes  a list of known issues.

When upgrading from version 1.1 to 1.2 it's recommended to scrape your collection for the additional media files that are supported in this new release, namely box back covers, title screens and physical media images.


This video shows how to install ES-DE on Windows 10 although it's also applicable to Windows 8.1 and probably to Windows 11. As of ES-DE v1.1 you no longer need to set the Path variable manually as RetroArch will be auto-detected.

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 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.

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

User guide (for the stable release 1.1.0)

User guide (for the prerelease 1.2.0-beta)

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 provide bug reports via email or on Discord.)


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 with the latter being the primary choice 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 to cover running costs such as web hosting, signing certificates etc. There are quite some expenses to run a project like this so any funding is much appreciated!