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Run Old DOS Games and Programs in Windows XP, Vista, 7/8/10

Many improvements have been made to the most recent versions of Windows. Unfortunately, along with these improvements, support for running some DOS programs was lost. For those tied to their old DOS software, there is hope.

You can still run your favorite DOS programs using an open source DOS emulator called DOSBox. DOSBox was designed to run DOS games, but will run many other DOS applications as well. There is even a long list of DOS programs tested on DOSBox. Like Windows, DOSBox will run on Mac OS X, Linux, and FreeBSD.

Download and install DOSBox

Go to the DOSBox.com download site and select the Windows link. You will be automatically redirected to SourceForge.net to download the installation file. If you have any problems downloading, please click the direct link or click the mirror link to select a different download site.

Make sure you have 4.3 MB of free space to install DOSBox. Run the file, then make sure the main files and desktop shortcut are selected. Click Next and Install to proceed with the installation, then click Close.

Install DOS program

Create a directory on your C: drive for files before installing the software. For example, if you want to play games, create a DosGames directory. Make sure your folder name does not exceed 8 characters.

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Do not use spaces or any characters other than letters or numbers to name your DOS directory. After creating the directory, move the DOS files to the directory, or install the DOS software directly to the directory.

Drive mount

Before starting, make sure that all of your DOS programs are installed in the same directory. Start DOSBox using a shortcut on your desktop. At the command prompt, enter MOUNT C C: DIRECTORY , where DIRECTORY is the folder on your hard drive that contains your DOS programs. If the DOS files are on a floppy disk, enter MOUNT A A: -t floppy. If they are on CD, enter MOUNT E E: -t cdrom, where E is the letter of your CD-ROM drive.

In some cases, you may not be able to enter a backslash () in a directory path. This is due to a conflict between the DOSBox key mapping and the key mapping of some keyboards. To fix the problem, press CTRL + F1. Remove and re-add the backslash key to remap the keyboard until the backslash key types the correct character.

You have to re-mount the disk every time you start DOSBox.

Change directories and run your DOS program

You can easily change your directory in DOSBox by simply typing the name of the mapped drive. For example, if you mapped the C: drive, simply enter C: at the Z: prompt. Then enter DIR to see the files in your directory.

Enter CD and directory name to change directory. Enter DIR again to see the contents of the new directory. Find the name of the .COM or .EXE file. Enter the file name to run the program.

For more tips on using DOS, see How to Navigate the DOS Command Prompt.

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