RetroArch Playlist Buddy - Playlist and thumbnail generation app


RetroArch Playlist Buddy is a Windows-based tool that can be used to create playlists for any platform where RetroArch is available.

This script might be for you if:

  • You would like to create a playlist and thumbnail set for a set of arcade or cartridge ROMs that is not supported by the RetroArch playlist database
  • You would like to use either your ROMs filenames as their title in the playlist, or extract the titles from an XML-formatted MAME or FB Alpha DAT
  • You would like to separate your MAME collection into curated, genre-based playlists via Alexandra’s scripts
  • You would like to only store the thumbnails for ROMs in your collection rather than the entire libretro thumbnail set



  • Create playlists in Windows for use in Android, Lakka, Linux, OS X, Windows, and other RetroArch-supported platforms
  • Arcade Mode and Filename Matching Mode
  • Skip playlist generation for thumbnail scraping only
  • Produce a log file of thumbnails missing from your collection
  • Download full image packs and extract only the thumbnails matching your ROM collection. Support for the libretro repository for all its supported systems as well as standard MAME image packs.
  • Experimental: Download individual thumbnail images from the libretro server without downloading the full pack (experimental feature intended for small ROM collections)[/li]
  • Create multiple playlists and thumbnail sets simultaneously, in part to support Alexandra’s curated MAME processing script
  • Set your configuration within the script’s source code as a default setting or configure on the fly via the GUI

DAT File sources

DATs for use with MAME 2000, MAME 2003, MAME 2010, and MAME 2014 should be downloaded from their respective libretro github repositories.

DATs for use with the mainline MAME core should be downloaded from ProgettoSNAPS. Use the DAT version labelled with a filename in this format: MAME 0.XXX (Arcade).dat" where XXX is the current version of the mainline MAME core.

You may also like: Simple Arcade Multifilter

Simple Arcade Multifilter uses a “catver.ini” and an XML DAT file to filter arcade ROMs in one or more of the following ways:

  • Game genre
  • Adult content
  • Clones
  • Games requiring CHD files
  • BIOSes

AHK Playlist Buddy - Playlist and thumbnail generation for RetroArch
Scanner not seeing half of SNES games
AHK Playlist Buddy - Playlist and thumbnail generation for RetroArch
File could not be loaded from playlist
MAME for new user for Lakka
Scan directory question
A couple questions about playlist
Megathread: "Which ROMs work with Lakka?"
Final Burn Alpha Playlist Mislabeling Issues
How do i connect my Raspberry Pi to a rgb tv?
Lakka 2.1 rc3 supported mame cores

Example: MAME 2003 Playlist and Thumbnails for Lakka The screenshot below demonstrates how this tool can be configured on a Windows PC in order to generate a MAME 2003 playlist with thumbnails for use in Lakka.

Menu 1 Settings used:

[ol] [li]Base ROM path: c:\roms[/li] [li]Playlist path to RetroArch core Lakka stores the MAME 2003 core at the path /tmp/cores/[/li] [li]Local path for generated playlists and thumbnails: c:\Lakka Staging– The playlist and the thumbnail set will be stored in c:\Lakka Staging\playlists and c:\Lakka Staging humbnails[/li] [li]Enable Arcade Mode - Local path to Arcade DAT: MAME 078.dat (sourced from Progetto-SNAPS)[/li] [li]Create playlist for Android, Lakka, Linux, or OS X[/li] [li]Use a different ROM path for generated playlist – This playlist will be deployed to a Lakka system, which stores ROMs in /storage/roms[/li] [li]Use local thumbnail source images[/li] [li]Thumbnail path – I have downloaded from and unzipped it within c:\libretro-thumbnails [/li][/ol]

Menu 2 Settings used: [ol] [li]Selected the MAME subfolder via mouse[/li] [li]Selected “Libretro MAME thumbnail repository” to scrape thumbs from the MAME thumbnail pack I downloaded[/li][/ol]


I’ve backported GUI improvements from the prototype MAME categorization app I’m working on. I also rewrote the DAT and file parsing data structures and algorithms in Playlist Buddy so that they could be shared with the categorization app in the form of an AHK playlist generation library. It was enjoyable.

It seems to be working as well as the previous version, and better in some regards, but I’ve labelled this download the ‘testing version’ until it’s fully proven.


Updated test version today to fix a playlist endline bug in the new AHK library. If you’re using the test version, make sure you have the file dated 2017-01-27


Hello, I just discover your tool, but I have an issue with my Neo Geo generated playlist. Once I created the playlist, nothing seems to be recognize when I update the thumbnails through Retroarch.

By the way, great tool for beginners like me. :slight_smile:


Hi @Mydriaze, thanks for your note!

I hope I can help you get your Neo Geo playlist looking and working correctly. Could you tell me a few things?

  1. Does the playlist you generated correctly launch the games even though the thumbnails don’t appear?
  2. What emulator version and DAT file are you using?
  3. Could you post one of the 6-line playlist entries for a game that does not display the thumbnails?


Let me try first before to answer to your 1/2/3 questions! :kissing_heart: I 'm not using any DAT file, I was thinking it was for MAME only… :cold_sweat: In your software, under the Arcade Mode line, there’s a link (download MAME DATs) where we can find DATs for MAME, but not for NeoGeo…


Neo Geo is not emulated on its own, its either MAME or FB Alpha running “under the hood.” So it’s essential to have a set of ROMs that works with one of those cores in RetroArch. That’s why I was also asking if your playlist runs correctly even with the missing thumbnails.

A valid set of ROMs, even if they’re already set up just for the Neo Geo, are going to be for a specific version of MAME or FB Alpha that RetroArch supports. Once you make sure that you have the right MAME/FBA ROMs with the right version you can can plug in the “DAT” to this tool and it ought to resolve your problems.


I’m trying to use this to generate a NeoGeo playlist as well. I’m using the latest FB Alpha (v0.2.97.39) ROMs and DAT file, but after trying to generate I get the following error:

Unexpected error processing DAT file.

ROM set name: Title:

I am using the DAT file downloaded via the link provided in the tool. I also tried the version of the DAT I’d previously used with ClrMamePro to update from the .38 ROMs to the .39 ROMs. Both end up with the same error.

EDIT: I’ve tried using the tool with the rest of my MAME catalog for MAME 2003, and that works as expected. I can also confirm that all of my NeoGeo games do run when I load them individually.


Sorry about that! Recently I overhauled the DAT processing code and this is a bug that has apparently crept in.

I was able to recreate the problem on my own computer. My impression was that the MAME 0.78 DAT and the FB Alpha DATs used the exact same format. Evidently there is some small difference I need to start taking into account.

edit: @Stig believe this is a relatively simple fix, so I have uploaded a new build here:

Please let me know if that helps you finish your project or if you are still having trouble. I appreciate the bug report.


Thanks, that works! Much appreciated!


Does the playlist you generated correctly launch the games even though the thumbnails don’t appear?

No. But Game are launching properly when I load core + content.

What emulator version and DAT file are you using?

FBA neogeo. The dat file i’m using is FB Alpha v0.2.97.39 (ClrMame Pro XML).dat

I have an error when trying to generate the playlist, but playlist is still generated.: “Error with the DAT file format”.


Hello, i used you program to scan in some of my mame .182 softlist(split) and i for the life of me cannot get it to run.

Here is a log, any idea of what i can do to get it to work? I’m trying to run trs coco games. I understand that i need a bios file or somesort but i am unable to tell which one and where to put it. i have already put my hash list under system/mame/hash. I have been sucessfull in making colecovision roms working with bios and all but im am stumped with this one.

OK i figured it out, the roms in the mame softlist have to be in a specifically name folder with the correct bios in the folder with roms as well havin a folder named mame, with another folder named hash, with the mame hases in it.

the main folder name must be Exactly the same as the system name for example coco games must be in the coco folder, not coco_cass or coco_flop, like they are named in the origonal softwre list.


FBA neogeo. The dat file i’m using is FB Alpha v0.2.97.39 (ClrMame Pro XML).dat

I have an error when trying to generate the playlist, but playlist is still generated.: “Error with the DAT file format”.

I’m sorry I missed this follow-up when you first posted it. There was an error in the DAT file parsing with the test build posted last week. If you are still working on your project, this new test build should not produce the DAT error with a FB Alpha DAT:


Thank you for posting this! As far as I know you are the first person who has used this tool to create a MAME softlist playlist. If you encounter any other issues or learn more about optimal settings, please feel to post in the thread again. It could be very useful for other people interested in emulating some those systems via MAME.


Wow! travelling by Retroarch Forum and I found with this awesome app, (simple and direct to the objective) keep up the nice job man, make my life easier with my Final Burn Alpha collection under RA.

The stable version works perfect for me, but with the test version for example if I’d select more than one folder, one of the playlist file generated could show diferents roms names or a mix with other folder content.


Whoa, that’s a nasty bug. Thanks for letting me know. I’m traveling for a few days but when I get back I’ll see what I did to the test version to cause this :slight_smile: I think I have only been testing it with single playlist generation recently so I didn’t notice this problem.

edit: Based on your description I a pretty sure I was able to find the source of the problem – a small error with major consequences. I updated the test build today with a fix, although I still need to test it more myself this coming week.


Can you please add the option to save settings. Instead of having to enter file paths every time I start the app.



That’s not a bad idea. I’ll see what I can do next I’m I’m working on the GUI code.

Speaking of updates to the code. I have just posted an updated ‘beta’ test build with more changes to the arcade DAT parser. I believe this is the last time that I need to update DAT processor – knock on wood! Now my focus is solely on making sure that the test version works as well or better than the older stable version – once it does I can get back to improving functionality.

Because there are now so many variations on how to use the Playlist Buddy app, it is very helpful to get bug reports on the test version. Thanks to everyone who has taken the extra time to try the test version and report back!


hello i’m just trying this script but i’m actually not able to figure it out… it simply does nothing! this is the configuration i use:

and the second option page: when i click “generate” nothing happens, menu screen close and two EMPTY folders are generated (thumbnails and playlist). an icon remain in the tray bar endlessly… what i’m doing wrong?