DOSBox - run old DOS games on modern PC's.

Welcome to Manual on how to run old MS-DOS games on modern PC's. For this noble case, we will use DOSBox - a brilliant (and completely free of charge plus OpenSource) piece of software that emulates good, old MS-DOS. For more info visit the official DOSBox website. The program has been ported to many different platforms, such as Windows, BeOS, Linux, MacOS X. Instructions and movies below are based on Windows XP system, however, except the installation it's pretty much the same for all other operating systems.

  • DOSBox - Win32 (installer)
  • Version: 0.74
  • Download
  • DOSBox - Source
  • Version: 0.74
  • Download

1. Download DOSBox. You can find it here or on a official website.

2. Run the installation. You will see the welcome screen, where you can read the license. Click 'next'.

3. On this screen you can choose the components you want to install (actually, the only thing that we can change here is whether to place a shortcut on the desktop or not ;) ). Next.

4. Specify the path where you want to install DOSBox. Click install.

5. When the copying will be finished, exit the installation program by clicking on the button 'Close'. Now you can enjoy freshly installed copy of DOSBox! ;)

After installation, run the program. DOSBox will display two windows: DOSBox Status Window (shows the processes in the "background") and main emulator window, which shows the emulated version of DOS (command prompt).

Now we have to specify the path to the folder with our old games ('mount' it to the emulator file system). Let's assume, that we have downloaded few abandownare applications (from dos.graveyard, of course ;) ) and we are storing them on drive C: in the C:\OldGames directory. Go to main emulator window, then type:

  • mount X C:\OldGames

That command creates a new partition (X:) that contains all the files and folders from C:\OldGames. Go to the partition by typing:

  • X:

To view the contents of the newly-created partition X, enter the command:

  • DIR

Victory! If everything went right, you should see entire content of X. That's all when it comes to the basic configuration. To automate the process and do not retype the commands on each DOSBox session, we need to edit dosbox.conf file. It's located in the main DOSBox folder. Open dosbox.conf with your favourite text editor and add these lines at the end, under the [autoexec] section:

  • mount X C:\OldGames
  • X:

From now on, every time you start DOSBox, virtual partition X: will be automatically added to the emulator.

Ok, our DOSBox is already installed and configured. Now it's time to figure out how to use it ;) For those who do not know, or no longer remember the good, old DOS - short list of the most important commands:

  • DIR - list directory contents.
  • CD - change directory.
  • CD.. - exits the folder.
  • CLS - clear the screen.
  • MD - create folder.
  • RD - remove folder.
  • COPY - copy files.
  • DEL - remove files.
  • TYPE - reads text files.
  • EXIT - exit dosbox.

Short description of how it actually works. Let's say that we want to play Prince of Persia. Download the game, then extract it to C:\OldGames\. Run DOSBox, and after mounting the partition (Configuration) type in:


And enjoy one of the best games ever created! CD PRINCE enters the game folder while PRINCE.EXE runs the actual game. Aim for .exe, .bat or .com files and remember about the TAB button autocomplete function. In most cases, when you are inside the game folder, pressing TAB will choose the right file for you.

  • ALT + ENTER - Full screen on/off.
  • ALT + PAUSE - Pause.
  • CTRL + F1 - Keyboard Controls.
  • CTRL + F4 - Refresh file system.
  • CTRL + ALT + F5 - Start/Stop recording movie (*.avi file) .
  • CTRL + F5 - Saves a Screenshot.
  • CTRL + F6 - Start / Stop recording sound (*.wave file).
  • CTRL + ALT + F7 - recording of OPL commands.
  • CTRL + ALT + F8 - recording of raw MIDI commands.
  • CTRL + F7 - Decreases 'frameskip'.
  • CTRL + F8 - Incerases 'frameskip'.
  • CTRL + F9 - Close DOSBox.
  • CTRL + F10 - Capture / Release the mouse.
  • CTRL + F11 - Slows down the emulation.
  • CTRL + F12 - Speeds up the emulation.
  • ALT + F12 - Turbo mode ;)

Q: I'm using Linux. Where can I locate the dosbox.conf file?

A: If you are using Linux, first you have to create the file. To do so, type in following command inside of DOSBox:

  • CONFIG -writeconf dosbox.conf

Then you can localize it in your home directory.

Q: Is there any easier way to find a file that I need to execute to run the game?

A: Try to enter the game folder (CD) and press TAB. In most cases, it will choose the file that you're looking for.