RetroArch Android Setup Guide


Download Link: (the one with the name “RetroArch_aarch64.apk)

I would highly suggest you use Obtainium to keep RetroArch up to date, otherwise you’ll be manually installing the APK’s for every update from that link. Here’s a link to my guide for Obtainium.

Download the APK onto your Android device. Open it.

Allow any popups, you may get one about unknown sources.

Head to Online Updater, then Core Downloader.

On this page, you want to install all of the cores for systems you’re going to be playing.

Recommended Cores

Here’s my recommended cores:

  • Atari 2600: Stella
  • Atari 5200: Atari800
  • Atari 7800: ProSystem
  • Arcade: FinalBurn Neo
  • Dreamcast: Flycast
  • Game Boy/Game Boy Color: Gambatte
  • Game Boy Advance: mGBA
  • Genesis/Master System/Game Gear/Sega CD: Genesis Plus GX
  • NES: Mesen
  • Nintendo DS: MelonDS DS
  • PlayStation 1: SwanStation
  • Saturn: Beetle Saturn
  • SNES: Snes9x

There are way more systems than that, so feel free to add any other cores for any other systems that you play. For Android, there’s a lot of scenarios where standalone emulators are much better than RetroArch cores, so if you’re curious what my full Android emulator recommendations are, you can find that list here.

Remove On-Screen Controls

Click the Settings cog on the right, and head to User Interface.

On-screen Display, On-Screen Overlay and uncheck Display Overlay to remove the on-screen controls.

Controller Mapping

Click the Settings cog on the right again, and this time go to Input. Then RetroPad Binds and Port 1 Controls.

Change Analog to Digital Type to Left Analog to allow you to use your left analog stick as a d-pad as well as the d-pad for games that only had d-pad support.

Go ahead and map all of your controls on this page to the buttons on your device. You can map safely up to Gun Trigger (you don’t need to map this or anything below).

Head back to the Input screen, and scroll down to Menu Controls. If you’re finding that it’s not using the right button right now to select/back out of menus, you can unselect Menu Swap OK and Cancel Buttons here.


Head back to the Input screen, and scroll down to Hotkeys. For Hotkey Enable, I tend to use Select or L3.

For Menu Toggle (Controller Combo), I choose X. This means that when you do the button combination of Select+X, it brings up the RetroArch menu in-game. It’ll be the same for the rest of the hotkeys we’re about to do, just replace X with whatever button.

For Quit, I choose Start.

Fast-Forward (Toggle) is R2.

Load State is L1.

Save State is R1.

And Show FPS is A.

Turning off having to Confirm Quit twice

Head back to the Input screen, and scroll to Confirm Quit and uncheck it if you don’t want to see the “Press again to quit” notification when trying to exit a game.

Load/Save State Automatically on Load/Exit

Click the Settings cog on the right, and head to Saving.

If you want to auto save state when quitting a game, and auto load state when loading a game, check the Auto Save State and Auto Load State options.

Click the Settings cog on the right, and head to Achievements.

You can setup Retro Achievements here if you want. If you do, I would suggest disabling Hardcore Mode.

Save your changes

When you’ve made all of the above changes, or any other changes, click the Home button on the right and navigate to Configuration File, then click Save Current Configuration. It’s important not to skip this step as exiting without doing so will discard all of the changes you made.


In RetroArch, if you head to Settings, Directory, you can see in the System/BIOS option where you should be placing your BIOS files. The default location for BIOS files is the Android device’s Internal Storage, RetroArch, System folder.

For a list of recommended BIOS files, click here.


If you want to setup RetroAchievements, check this post here.

Cheats is a good resource for cheat files, search the game you want, and then choose libretro (.cht) as the Format and Download the file.

Note: when you download it, it may download as a .txt file (if you see .txt at the end), you need to change it to .cht by simply renaming it.

To add or apply cheats to RetroArch, open the RetroArch menu in-game, Cheats, Load Cheat File (replace) and then navigate to and select the Cheats file that you want to use or that you downloaded from

You can then scroll down in the Cheats menu, and you’ll see all the available cheats to use. Select a cheat you want to use, and then click Enabled.

Then, back to the Cheats menu and you want to select Apply Changes for it to apply.

If you want to auto-apply cheats next time you load the game, scroll up and enable Auto-Apply Cheats During Game Load.

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