Use Dosbox to Play Classic PC Games

Edited by Batkingnz, Lynn, Eng, Maria and 2 others

Julian dosbox 04.png

Once upon a time, before Windows, there was DOS, a command line operating system where many gamers had their first taste of PC gaming. Over time, DOS made way for Windows, and although it was initially included in Windows until '95, it has, since Windows 2000, all but disappeared on computers. But there are still games to be played, and with the help of the DOSbox emulator, you can relive or be introduced to the games of the past that many of us grew up on. Read on below to find out how.

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Installing DOSBox

  1. 1
    Download and Install
    .
    Download DOSBox here.
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  2. 2
    Once the download is complete, open it and you will be presented with the licensing agreement
    .
    This software is free for your private use, so press "Next" to continue.
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  3. 3
    Desktop Shortcut
    .
    On the next screen you will be given the option to add a shortcut for DOSBox to your desktop. It's a good idea to select this now. Otherwise you can find DOSBox in your start menu. When you are done, click next to continue.
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  4. 4
    File Path
    .
    You can now choose a file path for DOSBox. This will determine where it is stored on your computer. We recommend leaving the path as is and clicking "Install" to continue. The install will only take a couple of seconds, once it has completed you can click close and the installation process is complete. Now it's time to get some games.
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Finding Games

The DOS operating system had a long lifetime, and there are many games available for it, including shareware, freeware and full paid games. Below we will show you where to get free and legal games from the website DOS Games. For the purpose of this tutorial, we will use the popular platforming game, Jetpack.

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  1. 1
    DOSgames
    .
    In your web browser, follow this link.
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  2. 2
    Download the game Jetpack
    .
    Once you are done with this tutorial you can use this site or search on your own to download games compatible with the DOSBox emulator.  
    1. On the website, choose "ALL Games (list)" from the left side menu. The games are listed alphabetically. Look for the game Jetpack.
    2. Click the link for Jetpack, and you will be taken to a page with another, shorter list.
    3. From this page, locate Jetpack and click the link to download (see the below image).
    4. When the download is complete, you will locate the zip file in your "Downloads" folder. Head there now.
      Julian dosbox 01.png
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  3. 3
    Create a folder for DOSBox
    .
    Now that you have downloaded your first game, we will need to create a folder for all your DOS games to be stored.  
    1. First open the zip file that you have downloaded and leave it open.
    2. Now in your file manager, go to your C: drive (usually named local disk in your file manager). Be careful here because it contains important files and folders.
    3. Just click in the empty white space and choose new and then folder. This will create a new folder which you can name "DOSbox".
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  4. 4
    Copy Jetpack
    .
    In your new DOSBox folder, drag the files from the zip that you downloaded. This will copy all the necessary files.
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  5. 5
    You can now open DOSBox from the shortcut you created earlier, or from your start menu.
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Running a Game In Dosbox

  1. 1
    Retro Commands
    .
    If you used and remember DOS, you will remember that everything was done through a command line, not like the relative simplicity of Windows today. We will input a few simple commands in to DOSBox, as per the image and table below.
    Julian dosbox 02.png
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DOSBOX COMMANDS
Command What It Does
mount c c:\dosbox DOSBox is an emulator, so what this does is tell the "fake" computer inside DOSbox, where its main hard drive is the folder that we created for DOSbox.
c: Changes the current directory to the C: drive.
dir /w This tells us the folders available on this drive. The one we are looking for is JETPAK15. This is a command line method of looking inside drives or folders just like you would in a window. As you add more games, you will see more folders here.
CD\jetpak15 Changes the directory to JETPAK15. Just like opening that folder in Windows.
dir /w Again we will look inside this folder to see the available files. When loading a game you will look for a file ending in '.EXE' and it is usually the game title.
JETPACK This will open the program JETPACK.EXE (The game file).
  • Once you have typed in all of the commands, the game will load. Jetpack is a fun little platform game where you fly around collecting gems and valuables while avoiding spinning ninja stars and a robot that looks suspiciously like the one from lost in space (if you've played dos games, I'm sure you've seen it).
  • Once you're comfortable with all of the steps, try downloading some of the other games on from this link. If you come across any difficult setups or games that don't work with the above instructions, just let us know in the comments below. DOS games can be a little tricky to set up but they're a little step back into gaming history, and even if the graphics have aged, the game play often still holds up to today's standards. Just spend a few minutes with Jetpack and you will be forgiven for suspecting that's where Jetpack Joyride got their graphics and some of their ideas!

Tips, Tricks & Warnings

There's not too much that can go wrong in an emulator, but be careful when looking around and creating folders in your C: drive. Check out the list below for some useful tricks and commands for using in DOSBox.

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  • Are games running too fast or too slow? Use Ctrl + F11 or Ctrl + F12 to slow down or speed of the emulation.
  • Pressing Alt + ENTER while in DOSBox will make the window full screen.
  • Typing "EXIT" from the command line will close DOSBox.

Questions and Answers

I have downloaded a game on Mac computer, how do I open it with DOSbox?

I have downloaded DOSbox on my Mac computer, and have downloaded a game called jazz.zip. How do I open it on dos box?

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Article Info

Categories : Gaming

Recent edits by: Doug Collins, Maria, Eng

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