How to Use DOSBox

Play classic video games you thought were lost to time

Classic MS-DOS video games don't run on Windows, Mac, or Linux. If you want to play these classic DOS games, install DOSBox on your PC. DOSBox is a free emulator that works across operating systems. Here's how to use it.

You can find some classic MS-DOS games for sale on GOG.com. These can be played without an emulator like DOSBox.

How to Install DOSBox

Before you can play games, you need to install DOSBox. You can get the software for free, regardless of your operating system. Then, follow these instructions to download and install it.

Create a folder for the old games you want to play. Label it something like C:\OLDGAMES.

How to Install DOSBox for Windows

Follow these steps if you have a Windows PC to download and install DOSBox:

  1.  Open a browser and go to the DOSBox download page.  

  2.  Locate the latest Windows installer download, and select it.

  3.  After the download completes, run the installer.  

  4. Follow the on-screen directions. It's fairly simple, and the default options should suffice in most situations.

How to Install DOSBox for Ubuntu/Debian Linux

Open a terminal window, then enter $ sudo apt install dosbox to install DOSBox on Ubuntu.

How to Install DOSBox for macOS

Follow these directions to install DOSBox on a Mac computer:

  1.  Open a browser and go to the DOSBox download page.

  2.  Locate and download the latest DMG file for Mac.

  3.  Double-click the file to open it.

  4.  Drag the application for the DMG into the /Applications folder.

  5. Wait for the application to finish copying, then eject the DMG with the eject button.

How to Play Games on DOSBox

With DOSBox set up on your system, it's time to download a game and start playing. There are several places to get DOS games online. My Abandonware hosts hundreds of free classic games that were abandoned by their developers. Here's how to download games on that site:

  1. Open a browser, and go to My Abandonware.

    My Abandonware website
  2. Select Platform and search for DOS games (or follow that link).

    The Platform heading on My Abandonware
  3. Find a game you're interested in playing and select it to download it.

  4. Unpack the archive the DOS game came in and place the files in a folder that's easy to access.

  5. Open DOSBox.

    DOSBox terminal window
  6. Mount your game folder as the C: drive. You can do that by running the mount command and passing it C first, followed by the path to the game folder. It should look something like mount c /path/to/game/folder.

    Mount game folder in DOSBox
  7. Change the directory to the new C: drive. Do this by typing C:.

    Change directories in DOSBox
  8. Type the name of the .exe file and press Enter. DOSBox launches the game.

    DOSBox running a game
  9. Use the on-screen mouse icon, if there is one, and the keyboard to control the game.

  10. When you're done playing, exit the game normally. To exit DOSBox, type exit in the terminal.

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