To run the PICO-8 app, you either double-click on the PICO-8 app icon, or you run it from a command console (aka terminal window). There are minor differences depending on which operating system you use.

Opening the app with the icon starts PICO-8 at the command prompt with default options.

When you run PICO-8 from the command line, you can specify command line flags to control certain behaviors. For example, you can specify the name of a cartridge file, and PICO-8 will load and run the cart immediately.

See the entry on printh() for information about how to locate the PICO-8 command for each operating system.

Command flags:

pico8 [switches] [filename.p8]

  • -run filename : automatically load and run a cartridge
  • -x : load the given cart, run it without a display, sound, or input, then exit when the cart exits
  • - p [param] : pass the given parameter into the cart. Can be accessed with stat(6) similar to load()
  • -width n : set the window or screen width and adjust scale to fit if not specified
  • -height n : set the window or screen height and adjust scale to fit if not specified
  • -windowed n : set windowed mode off (0) or on (1)
  • -sound n : sound volume 0..256
  • -music n : sound volume 0..256
  • -joystick n : joystick controls starts at player n (0..7)
  • -pixel_perfect n : 1 for unfiltered screen stretching at integer scales (on by default)
  • -draw_rect x,y,w,h : absolute window coordinates and size to draw PICO-8's screen
  • -splore : boot in splore mode
  • -home path : set the path to store config.txt and other user data files
  • -desktop path : set a location for screenshots and gifs to be saved
  • -screenshot_scale n : scale of screenshots. default: 3 (384x384 pixels)
  • -gif_scale n : scale of gif captures. default: 2 (256x256 pixels)
  • -gif_len n : set the maximum gif length in seconds (1..120)
  • -gui_theme n : use 0 for the default background, 1 for a dark blue background, 2 for a black background, and 3 for a dark gray background in the code editor.
  • -tab_width n : number of spaces in a tab in the code editor (default: 1)
  • -timeout n : how many seconds to wait before downloads timeout (default: 30)
  • -software_blit n : use software blitting mode off (0) or on (1)

For example, to open PICO-8 and automatically start Splore in Mac OS X:

/Applications/ -splore
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