(Updated) Installing RetroPie 3.0+ on Raspberry Pi 1, 2, & Zero





Introduction: (Updated) Installing RetroPie 3.0+ on Raspberry Pi 1, 2, & Zero


Install RetroPie 3.0+ on any model of the Raspberry Pi using Windows or Mac.

This includes:

  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model A+
  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+
  • Raspberry Pi 2 Model B
  • Raspberry Pi Zero

Video tutorial is also available: https://youtu.be/mr3BhLWSAuA

This guide displays and contains pictures that are similar to Raspberry Pi Models not including the Raspberry Pi Zero. Instructions can still be followed for the Pi Zero in hardware choices, but the installation should be the same.


Hey guys! Welcome to my updated guide on installing RetroPie onto the Raspberry Pi. For those of you who have not come from my previously written guide on installing RetroPie, it was a lot of steps needed just to set it up, and it was rather tedious. Also, a lot of you may also have struggled with some control settings (RetroPie 2.x does a really bad job at making that part user friendly...). Fear not, RetroPie 3.0 is here!

At this point of writing RetroPie 3.3 has been released, but I before I begin, I would like to thank you for all the support the Instructables community has given me. I wrote my first RetroPie guide during my Spring break of 2015, and it has grown to become featured within 3 days of publish, viewed by 273.5k views (currently), and liked 1,162 times so far. It's the support and feedback from the Instructables community that keeps me going. Thank you so much :D

Check out my previous guide!

Support Me Pls

I'm currently running a startup for Computer Repair for universities by setting up an Uber-like service, but for people who request tech help. Technicians closest to that person can contact them and setup appointment times, help them out, and arrange appropriate pay. My goal (as well as others that may climb aboard)However, I'm trying to gain some attention and first and I've been just servicing people around my area and university. Any likes/support would be greatly appreciated.

Also, aside from the business world, I also constantly build on my portfolio, game and post YouTube videos, learn code, and update people on my blog. Check out my other stuff!

Step 1: Getting the Necessary Software/Hardware

Hardware Requirements:

From my previous guide, check out the stuff I bought for my Raspberry Pi. Some of the hardware bought is just supplementary, not mandatory. At the most fundamental level, you would need:

  • Raspberry Pi (duh)
  • MicroSD Card (Samsung has the top read speeds)
  • HDMI/HDMI to Video Cable (VGA, DVI, etc)
  • USB Keyboard (used to control the [Pi before setting up controllers)
  • USB Controllers, Gamepads (for the emulators)
  • SD Card Reader (to write the OS downloaded from your computer)

Additional hardware would include:

  • Heatsinks
  • A case with a fan

Click here to read more into the hardware I bought.

Software Requirements:

First, we're going to need the RetroPie OS from the RetroPie Project site. You can either download this through direct download or through their torrent (I prefer torrent because it's a lot faster). Make sure to choose what Raspberry Pi model you have and then your download method (standard of torrent).

It's important not to choose Berryboot. Berryboot is a tool used to multi-boot different Operating Systems onto your MicroSD card in the even that you are using it for multiple OSes. Choose either a direct download of a torrent download from the standard section only. If you are interested in BerryBoot, this guide does not support it.

For software, we're going to need some software to write to the SD card for your OS.


The most basic tool for Windows would be to use Win32DiskImager.


This was a tool created by RPi-sd card builder. Credits to AlltheWare for posting this up.

After installing, you should get a compressed file that requires Winrar to uncompress.Extract this file and it should lead you with an .img file ready to write onto my SD card. After completing all these steps, you're ready to start!

Step 2: Installing the OS

Writing the Image to the SD Card

Now we're going to have to install the OS onto the MicroSD card. Choose your Operating System below and follow the instructions!


We're going to be using Win32DiskImager (as stated previously). This program is really easy to use, but just follow along anyway.

  1. Run the Win32DiskImager.exe
  2. Click the blue folder near the top right to browse for the image. Select the extracted .img RetroPie OS file you just downloaded.
  3. Plug your SD card in with your SD Card reader.
  4. Go to file explorer to check what drive letter your SD card slot is under.
  5. Select the drive letter your SD card is on (located right next to the blue folder).
  6. Press write and wait for it to say write complete.


For Mac, simply follow this guide instead of typing in and writing the images via Terminal. It's probably going to be a lot easier for you.

Plugging Everything In

Take your SD Card out, plug it into your Pi, and plug all the cables in (Ethernet, keyboard, HDMI). Finally, plug in the power and proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Configuring Raspi-Config

What is Raspi-Config?

Basically, Raspi-Config is Raspberry's Pi's BIOS. This is where you'll be configuring all of Raspberry Pi's settings. From here you enable overclocking, video ram increases, and much more.

Opening Raspi-Config Settings

  1. Once you plug your SD card in and boot it up, you should see the a the Pi command prompt go crazy.
  2. You'll then be greeted by the RetroPie Logos and then a prompt to ask you to configure your first gamepad/controller. We will configure these later.
  3. Press F4, which will exit you our of the RetroPie OS. It will them prompt you to press any button to exit to console. Press any button to exit to console.
  4. You should now be greeted on the bottom line with "
  5. Next, enter Rasberry Pi's config screen. To do this, enter this command into the command prompt:
sudo raspi-config 

Setting the BIOS Configurations

  1. First, let's expand the filesystem. This makes it so that the SD card is available to the entire OS (RetroPie in this case for your ROMs). Use the keyboard to select Expand Filesystem and press enter and ok.
  2. Then, let's overclock our Pi (this is where the heatsinks and fans come in). Scroll down to Overclock. Go into overclock and then select Pi2. Don't select Turbo. Your Pi will freeze.Otherwise, it will freeze your Pi and you'll have to start over.
  3. Next, let's increase the size of our VRAM. Go to Advanced Options > Memory Split and set this value to 512. This will increase the amount of VRAM used by the system to 512mb.
  4. Also, let's enable SSH just in case we have to tap into the system via IP. We can accomplish this by going into Advanced Options > SSH > Enable > Press Ok.
  5. Press Finish to close out of the configurations. (Just press the right arrow key twice, then enter, and confirm).

Step 4: Finally Configuring Our Controllers

Now that you have rebooted, it's time to configure your controllers at the configuration screen.

Plug your controller in and hold the A button on the controller to proceed.

Here are some tips:

  • If there is a button that the control configuration asks for, but is not on your gamepad, just hold a button to skip it.
  • If you have extra buttons to spare for your gamepad, set those buttons to leave game, save game, load game etc.

Once you're done, click the A button on your controller to press the OK button.

Adding More Controllers

  1. To configure more controllers, simply press the Start Button
  2. Go to Configure Input
  3. Plug your Controller in
  4. Hold A button and proceed to configure as previously shown.

Step 5: Adding in ROMS

Because of legal reasons, find the ROMs on your own.This guide is for education purposes only.

What's new in RetroPie 3.x?

Thanks to the new update, ROMs are now able to be transferred through SSH, and more importantly, USB. That's right! You heard it! You can easily plug in a flash drive with your ROMs and they will import into RetroPie automatically.

For convenience, we are going to be using the USB method due to its convenience.

Using USB to Sync ROMs

  1. First, make sure the flash drive file system is FAT32.
  2. Then, on your computer, make a folder at the root of the flash drive called retropie
  3. After that, eject the flash drive and plug it back into the Pi. We have to do this so that RetroPie can create the rest of the subdirectories in the retropie folder.
  4. Wait 10 seconds for the subdirectories to be created, and then plug it back into the computer.
  5. Now it's time to place all the ROMs onto the flash drive. Head over to the flash drive, and go to the directory retropie > roms > and drag roms into their designated folders. For instance, if you have an SNES ROM, place it in the snes folder (zip files are also acceptable). Playstation 1 ROMs go into the PSX folder.
  6. After you are done, eject your flash drive and plug it back into the Raspberry Pi.

Syncing ROMs to RetroPie

  1. Now that you have your flash drive plugged in, it's time to restart RetroPie. However, a trick I like to do is to press the start button and click on quit EmulationStation. Only RetroPie needs to restart, not necessarily the Raspberry Pi itself (although you can just pull the plug and plug it back in...).
  2. Finally, just wait for all the ROMs to sync with RetroPie, and you're golden!
    • Note: in the event that you have to pull out your flash drive, RetroPie will stop syncing your ROMs and keep the ones that are already transferred so that you can continue where you left off. Also, if you delete old ROMs from your flash drive and add new ones, RetroPie will not remove the ones on the system currently and add the new ones.

Step 6: Adding Cover Artwork & Metadata

Finally, the Last Part...

Time to get all the metadata for all your ROMs! Fortunately, there is a quick and convenient way of doing this. Make sure your Raspberry Pi is connected to the internet via an ethernet port or anything else, and follow the instructions below.

  1. Click on the start button
  2. Go to Scraper
  3. If you want, you can choose your game database that RetroPie will be pulling information from
  4. Press Scrape Now
  5. Make sure "User Decides On Conflicts" is turned off. By doing so, we can just breeze through the metadata syncing quickly without it asking you for input every time.

Step 7: You're Done!

Congrats on Making Your Emulator!

You're finally done! Make sure to please follow & support me for more guides and cool tech stuff I may find. Most importantly, please be sure to like this guide and follow me on Instructables. Have fun!

Support Me Pls

I'm currently running a startup for Computer Repair for universities by setting up an Uber-like service, but for people who request tech help. Technicians closest to that person can contact them and setup appointment times, help them out, and arrange appropriate pay. My goal (as well as others that may climb aboard)However, I'm trying to gain some attention and first and I've been just servicing people around my area and university. Any likes/support would be greatly appreciated.

Also, aside from the business world, I also constantly build on my portfolio, game and post YouTube videos, learn code, and update people on my blog. Check out my other stuff!



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    Hi, do i need to have Wifi?

    on the Pi? No.

    You don't need an internet connection to it at all as long as you put the ROMs on via USB.

    It's way easier putting them on if you do have a connection. I put them on via WinSCP - I literally have my laptop on the sofa next to me and drag and drop games across without having to get up and go to the Pi.

    So, i have a Pi Zero and have fully installed Jessie and retropie, everything is running fast and clean, but my retropie only has 8 emulators. I'm sure this is a very simple answer yet i still do not know it. Your answer to why/how to fix it would be greatly appreciated! :-D

    Nobody replied this whole time?? The "Emulation Station" as it were will only show emulators for games you've loaded. If you want to see the other emulators listed in the menu you need to add ROMs to those folders. (ex. GBA will show up once you add GBA ROMs to the GBA folder)

    Haha thanks so much! Gladly I figured this out eventually, but it's great to know that there are people like you still looking out for the confused people like me. Many thanks!!! :^/)

    Mr makershaker05 I have a question how did u do it what file did u download and did u get any errors and did u have to extract then paste pls respond

    Sure thing, I did not receive and errors during this process. In the above instructable there is a download link for raspbian Jessie but here it is anyway https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/ that's it straight from the raspberry pi site. Click the download zip button and extract it. Plug in your micro sd card to your computer/pc and and format it, for this you can either use "SD card formatter" which you can download online, or you can just do it with Windows. Go to win32disk imager (there is a download link in the above instructable) and select your micro sd card (your drive) and MAKE SURE you have the correct drive letter (for example my drive letter was F:) and select your raspbian image (it will be in the files of what you previously extracted, the one with the disk icon) and click write. Safetly remove your micro sd and plug it back into your pi. It is now good to run, it'll have some preinstalled emulators and roms. Plug in a controller and have fun!!! :~D

    -------------------------------------------smiley face----------------------------------------------


    Excellent tutorial, would you by any chance know how to set it up to autostart on my raspberry pi zero?

    "Installing Retropie 3.0+ on Raspberry Piu 1,2,3, & __Zero__"

    Setting the BIOS Configuration:

    3. increase the size of vram to 512mb

    Zero only has 512mb ram and I went ahead and did just that ;P Now I have a rather sluggish zero to fix ;P

    is it possible to get this somehow on a Linux system, not a Pi? I own some very new thin clients...