Guide: Scrape ROM box art for MacOS

(Last updated 08SEP2020)

If you’re using SimpleMenu on an RG350, or any other emulation platform that can display retro game box art, you probably know that there is no Mac app that can find and download your box art automatically. A Mac version of Skraper is in the works, but it’s not ready yet. There are some command-line solutions out there, modeled after Linux, but they require a deep understanding of Terminal (and can really mess up your Mac if you do it wrong). You could also run a Windows 10 virtual machine on your Mac – it’s surprisingly easy to set up, and free.

If you want to stick your Mac, I’ll walk you through how to download and organize all of your box art so that you can make SimpleMenu look pretty on your RG350 (like in the picture above). There are several workarounds we have to do to get it all to work, and it’s not perfect — but trust me, this process is much easier than trying to google box arts on your own. Note: if you don’t want to fiddle with all of the automated tasks below, another option would be to individually download the box art files and resize them to your needs. If you would rather do that, this page is your best source. Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive in.

Table of Contents:

Download and install OpenEmu
Drag your ROM files into OpenEmu to scrape their box art
Move the OpenEmu images to your media folders
Tweak the image files to meet the RG350 requirements
  - Resize the images
  - Change to .png files
  - Rename the images
Putting it all together

Download and install OpenEmu

OpenEmu is an excellent emulation program for MacOS, easily the best solution out there in terms of ease of use and simple design. It’s free to use (although I recommend tossing a bit of gratitude their way via Patreon), and if you’re looking to play games on your Mac, look no further than this program. It can run most classic systems, all the way up through the Nintendo Gamecube.

But we’re not here to talk about the app itself, but rather to use its scraping feature. So go download the app via their site, and be sure to download the “experimental” version if you plan on getting MAME/arcade art.

After you’ve downloaded and unizipped the OpenEmu app, drag the app into your “Applications” folder to install it. When you launch the app for the first time, you will get the warning box above, and it will try to throw away this perfectly fine app. Cancel out of that warning box, then navigate to System Preferences > Security & Privacy. Under the “General” tab, you’ll see the information about OpenEmu; click the “Open Anyway” button like pictured above. This will start OpenEmu. It will ask you a series of questions about which platforms you want displayed; just pick everything you want (or select them all, no harm there).

Drag your ROM files into OpenEmu to scrape their box art

Next, load your ROMs onto your Mac. Typically this is done by plugging your RG350 external microSD card into your Mac, or if you already have them duplicated on your Mac for safe keeping, you’re already ready to start. Once you have them available on your Mac, you want to configure your OpenEmu settings to prevent the app from making more duplicate copies, which it does by default. In OpenEmu, go to the Menu Bar and select OpenEmu > Preferences (or press CMD + comma). Under the “Library” tab, uncheck both the “Copy files to Game Library folder when adding to library” option about halfway down the settings page, and “Automatically lookup game information & artwork” options. Close out of settings.

Navigate to wherever your ROMs are stored, then pick one of your ROM folders, like “NES”. Open the NES folder and select all of the files, then drag them into OpenEmu. If you go to the “Nintendo (NES)” console on the left menu bar you should see your game files start to pop up, and they will have box art that looks a bit like a test of the old Emergency Broadcast System. Once all of the games are loaded, select all of them (CMD + A), then right click and select “Download cover art”. OpenEmu will start downloading all of their box arts; the reason we are manually asking OpenEmu to download the box art is because it will download them in alphabetical order, which will be helpful later.

It might miss a few depending on the system and how you named the file. Before you move on to adding more game files from another system, stop here and add those missing box art files (which you can read about below). You want to knock everything out for one system at a time, which I’ll explain later.

If OpenEmu does miss a few games, you will have to manually add them, which isn’t as hard as it sounds. Go to ScreenScraper.fr and hover over the “Games” tab, then select your console. From there, pick the letter that the game starts with, then the game. When you’re on the game page, select the “Media” tab and you’ll see all sorts of media: logos, box art, screenshots, and more. Find the box art you like, then right-click and select “Save Image As…” and save the picture. Finally, all you have to do is drag that image onto the game box and voilà, everything looks nice. Note: another source is this website, which is not as user-friendly but runs a bit faster than ScreenScraper.

Once you are done with one system, go ahead and do it for the next system. But like I said before, be sure to finish everything up for one system before you move on to the next one — and to be even more safe, wait a few minutes before starting on the next system. This is because OpenEmu stores all of your images in one folder, regardless of system. If you scrape the art one system at a time (with some time between systems), you can simply sort that folder by “Date Modified”, and grab them in their respective chunks.

Move the OpenEmu images to your media folders

  1. First, we need to make folders for these images to be stored. On your RG350 SD card (or wherever you store your games), create a folder called “media” in the ROMs folder. For example, on my RG350 external SD card my NES images are stored in ROMS/NES/media. Once you’ve made all of these media folders, now we’re going to move our images there.
  2. You will find the images that OpenEmu made under ~/Library/Application Support/OpenEmu/Game Library/Artwork. The easiest way to get there is to open Finder, then click the “Go” option in the Menu Bar. Press and hold the Option key on your keyboard, and you should see “Library” appear — click on Library, then navigate through Application Support > OpenEmu > Game Library > Artwork. You’ll see here just a bunch of files with numbers and letters, with zero organization.
  3. Sort this folder by “Date Modified” and scroll through until you can determine where each system resides. For example, maybe you were working on NES from 2:36pm to 2:45pm, and then you did SNES from 2:48pm to 3:01pm. A quick way to check the art is to just click once on the file and press the Space Bar. Now, move each of these image files into their respective media folder (i.e. ROMS/NES/media). Note that moving these images from the OpenEmu image folder will break your images in the app, but that’s fine.

Tweak the image files to meet the RG350 requirements

It’s great the OpenEmu finds and saves all of the box art for you, but unfortunately they are in a weird format and need to be fixed before you can add them to your RG350. We’ll need to resize the images to fit the RG350’s screen resolution, append the “.png” file extension to them, and rename them to match your game file.

Resize the images: Go to the “media” folder where you’ve stored all of the images for a particular console, then sort them by “Date Modified” so that the top image is the first game alphabetically, and so on. Then, select all of the images (CMD + A). Next, right-click on the top image and select “Open With” — the next submenu it will default to TextEdit, but instead click on “Other…” — after that, it will show a list of applications installed on your Mac, but most of them will be grayed out. Under the Enable > “Recommended Applications” drop-down menu, select “All Applications”, and all of your applications are now selectable. Select the “Preview” application, then press the Open button.

Resizing all of your images through Preview

All of the images will show up on the left menu bar, with a preview of one of the game image files on the right. Click anywhere in the left menu bar press CMD +A, which will select all of the images. Next, go to the Menu Bar at the top of your screen and select Tools > Adjust Size. Under the “Width” section, type in 150 for the RG350 or RG350P, and 300 for the RG350M. Leave everything else blank, and make sure that “Scale proportionally” is checked. Press the “Ok” button, then navigate back to your media folder. You should now have double the amount of files you had in there before: the weird “text” files you had earlier, plus a bunch of .jpeg files that are sized to your RG350’s needs. You can now sort this folder’s contents by “Kind”, and delete all of the files that are not .jpeg. Go back to sorting the images by “Date Modified”, and fingers crossed they are still in alphabetical order.

Required settings to change file extensions

Change to .png files: SimpleMenu on the RG350 only recognized .png files, so we need to change their file extensions. Go to Finder > Preferences, then in the “Advanced” tab make sure that “Show all filename extensions” is checked, and “Show warning before changing the extension” is unchecked. You can now close out this preference pane.

Changing the file extensions from jpeg to png

Go back to your media folder (with all of the .jpegs), and select all of them (CMD + A). Then right-click and select “Rename ## items…” (## being however many files you’ve selected ). A “Rename Finder Items” screen will appear. Here, select “Replace Text” and put “jpeg” in the Find box, and “png” in the Replace with box. Press the “Rename” button and they should all have the correct file extension.

Rename the images: Now comes the really “fun” part. You have to rename all of these files to match the game files. It’s not the end of the world, it just takes a lot of keyboard shortcuts and repetitive motion. Open up two Finder windows: one with the game files sorted by “Name”, and the other with the media folder sorted by “Date Modified”. Verify that the image matches the game file, then click on the game file twice (not a double-click, wait a beat before clicking the second time). Copy the name of the file, then go over to the corresponding image and click twice (again, slowly!) and paste the name in. The video above will give you an idea of the process. Rinse and repeat for all of your games. It takes a while, but you could always watch a movie, enjoy a beer, etc. while you are doing it.

Bear in mind that if you do the steps above perfectly, the game image files should be in alphabetical order when sorting by “Date Modified”. But the box arts you had to add to OpenEmu manually will not be in order, since you likely did that after you downloaded the art for all the other games. It’s not a perfect system, but it will be easier than searching through all of your files to find the right game/image pair.

If you’re like me and like using keyboard shortcuts, you can do all of this entirely without taking your hands off the keyboard. To do this, you’ll want to use the “Move focus to next window” keyboard shortcut (CMD + `) — keep in mind that’s a Backtick key, which is usually just above the Tab key. So you’ll want use the arrow keys to find your game file, press the Enter key to edit the name, press (CMD + C) to copy the name, then press the (CMD + `) shortcut to move focus to the media folder, then press Enter to edit the name and CMD + V to paste the new name in. Rinse and repeat! This one takes more concentration, and you won’t be able to drink beer at the same time (unless you have a beer helmet), but once you have the pattern down you can finish in a few minutes. I’ve added another video above so you can get a feel for this process.

Putting it all together

Okay, now that you have your media folders within the individual ROM folders, and they have the correct name, size, and file extension, you should be good to go. If you didn’t do this work directly on your microSD card, then you will want to add these media folders to your SD card now (within your ROM folders — so NES media folder is in sdcard/ROMS/NES/media).

As long as all the image names match your game file names, they should now be paired up and will work with SimpleMenu on the RG350. Pop the SD card into your device, and admire your handiwork!

I hope this guide was helpful! Questions, comments, requests? Leave them in the comments below.

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