How to Use DOSBox

Play classic games you thought were lost to time

DOSBox running Oregon Trail

There are hundreds of classic games out there, and while they don’t run on Windows, Mac, or Linux, you can actually still play them. Many are even free. These games came out in a time when DOS was still a dominant operating system. That’s where using DOSBox comes in. DOSBox is a free emulator that works across operating systems, and lets you play your favorite classic MS DOS games.

How to Install DOSBox

Before you can start playing games, you’re going to need DOSBox. You can easily get for free, regardless of your operating system.

Windows

  1.  Open your browser and head to the DOSBox download page.  

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

  3.  After the download is complete, run the installer.  

  4. Run through the installer. It's fairly simple, and the default options should suffice in most situations.

 Ubuntu/Debian Linux

 Open a terminal window, then run the following command to install DOSBox:

$ sudo apt install dosbox

 macOS

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

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

  3.  Double-click the DMG file to open it.

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

  5. Wait for the application to finish copying over, 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 a bunch of places where you can get DOS games online. There’s a great site, My Abandonware, that hosts hundreds of classic games which were abandoned by their developers for free.

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

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

  3. Find a game you’re interested in playing, and select the download link to download it.

  4. Unpack the archive your DOS game came in and place the files in a folder that will be easy to access.

  5. Open DOSBox. It should be located with your other applications in your menu.

    DOSBox terminal window
  6. The first thing you’ll need to do is 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 your game folder. It should look something like this:

    mount c /path/to/game/folder
    Mount game folder in DOSBox
  7. Now, change directories into the new C: drive. Do this by simply typing “C:” without the quotes.

    Change directories in DOSBox
  8. All you need to do now is type the name of the exe file and press Enter. DOSBox will launch your game.

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

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