How to Play DOS Games on Your Mac With Boxer

Gaming has come an awfully long way over the last decade, but many of us still have fond memories of the age of DOS based gameplay. Whether it’s to rekindle a sense of nostalgia, or enjoy some of the classic game story-lines, the ability to play DOS games on a modern Mac is something that many would find interesting.

Enter Boxer, a wonderfully designed OS X application for running these classic games on your Mac. Boxer is completely free, and takes away all the hassle of getting these old games to run. It even includes a few sample titles, and points you in the right direction to find more.

This how-to will walk you through the process of setting up Boxer, and explain where you can get your hands on a few classic titles to experiment with.

Setting Up Boxer

After downloading and running Boxer, it’s as simple as dragging and dropping the app into your Applications folder – the usual process:

Installing Boxer

Installing Boxer

Boxer will ask whether you’d like to manually select a folder for games to be installed into, or whether you’re happy for it to be handled automatically. I selected the latter, and the directory was created at ~/DOS Games/.

You’re then shown the Boxer directory, which makes up the main interface of the application. Here you can see a short “readme” file, and various other icons/folders:

The Game Shelf

The Game Shelf

Installing & Playing Games

If you drill down into the “Sample Games” folder, you’ll find a selection of example titles that you can try out immediately – just double click one to launch it. Installing games is as simple as dragging the CD or game folder over the “Drop games to install” icon. This will set the game up, and place it in the shelf for you to play.

When you launch a game for the first time, a few titles still require a little configuration (such as selecting the type of input you’d like, graphics and sound options etc). I found that opting for the pre-selected values generally worked fine.

Some games still require a little config

Some games still require a little config

After a few config steps, you’ll be up and running. Games are fairly intuitive, and I found that Boxer had no problem correctly handling both mouse and keyboard input. Everything is seamless, and far easier than installing DOS games used to be in the 1990s!

Digging into Doom

Digging into Doom

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with a few classic titles over the past couple of days, and have been impressed with the range freely available online. Many are demos with only a few levels available, but if you’re really passionate about a particular game, a quick search on eBay is likely to yield a full copy for sale.

Finding New Titles

Various websites are well-suited for finding new DOS games to experiment with. Most are free, though a few are limited versions with only a couple of levels. Here are a selection of websites for digging around for old titles:

DOS Games Archive

A very easy-to-navigate website, DOS Games Archive has over 250 games to download free. Many of the more popular titles are only commercial demos, but there’s more than enough to re-kindle that nostalgic spark. Files can be filtered by genre, year, or license.

Classic DOS Games

A more “DOS-esque” site, Classic DOS Games is a regularly updated website containing several hundred titles. It also has a fairly active forum for discussing titles, and I particularly enjoyed the animated game videos in the head of the site. Cheesy, but it gets you into the spirit!

DOS Museum

DOS Museum does exactly what it says on the tin, providing a simple list of links to download various games. Some are certainly better than others, but it’s a simple way to browse through what’s on offer.

Share the Love!

If you decide to give Boxer a go, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to know what your favourite games turn out to be – which are the classics you’d like to try again?

Personally, I quite enjoyed a little Doom and the memories of F15 Strike Eagle. Good times!


  • http://slightlyinsightful.com/ Ammon

    Boxer is justification for hanging on to all my old DOS files.

    Some of my favorite DOS games/apps to run in Boxer include the following:
    Dark Forces (Star Wars + Doom), Warcraft 2 (‘Nuff said), and Windows 3.11 (just to freak people out).

    • Supersean579

      How did you get windows 3.1 to install?

    • Cody

      I can not find a full version of dark forces for boxer, anyone have any tips or links?

  • http://www.joshnichols.com Josh N.

    X-Com UFO Defense, here I come!

  • http://malcolmbastien.com Malcolm Bastien

    Dungeon Hack! Here I come!

  • lockwesmonster

    Ut oh…someone’s about to get dysentery! Oregon Trail here I come!

  • fellowweb

    How does Boxer compare to cross-platform DOSBox (www.dosbox.com)?

    When will I be able to receive notifications upon replies to my comments on AppStorm?

    • http://soyek.pl Soyek

      If U’d be a little more observant, U’d notice a tiny “DOSBox 0.73″ title on last two screenshots and if U’d be a little more curious, U’d find on Boxer’s website information about how Boxer is based on DOSBox and how Boxer is in fact the DOSBox made easy and well designed – as it should for Mac users (that can be found everywhere on their site – for “political correctness”, I suppose).

      Then U’d not ask such ridiculous question about comparison :)

    • http://soyek.pl Soyek

      If U’d be a little more observant, U’d notice a tiny “DOSBox 0.73″ title on last two screenshots and if U’d be a little more curious, U’d find on Boxer’s website information about how Boxer is based on DOSBox and how Boxer is in fact the DOSBox made easy and well designed – as it should for Mac users (that can be found everywhere on their site – for “political correctness”, I suppose).

      Then U’d not ask such ridiculous question about comparison :)

    • http://soyek.pl Soyek

      If U’d be a little more observant, U’d notice a tiny “DOSBox 0.73″ title on last two screenshots and if U’d be a little more curious, U’d find on Boxer’s website information about how Boxer is based on DOSBox and how Boxer is in fact the DOSBox made easy and well designed – as it should for Mac users (that can be found everywhere on their site – for “political correctness”, I suppose).

      Then U’d not ask such ridiculous question about comparison :)

    • fellowweb

      Wow, Soyek is so smart that he needs to post the same comment three times. Respect!

      @David Appleyard: Thank you for your interesting article. It would have been helpful if you included this information.

      • http://soyek.pl Soyek

        Well, it happens sometimes here, if U haven’t noticed yet. I’m sorry for that, I really would like to be able to delete these two copies, but it’s impossible. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be too hard for Envato to write some PHP function preventing such thing, but they probably just don’t care.

        Anyway, now I can see how much U don’t like negative feedback. The best defense is attack, isn’t it?

  • Robin

    How awesome, a nicer DOSBox. SimCity 2000, tyrian 2000 YEAY!

  • Paul Trusik

    Wished they had the old floppy version of Nightmare on Elm Street. Still searching but I do highly recommend Darkseed – amazing RPG featuring a lot of art by H.R. Giger!

  • http://dsw.net.nz DSW

    I’ve been using this for a while now, I absolutely love it.
    I was even able to complete an all time favourite of mine again ->StoneKeep (Haven’t played it in over 11 years, ahh the good old days)

  • Pingback: Boxer, emulador de juegos de MS-DOS en tu Mac « Blog K-tuin

  • http://www.boxerapp.com Alun Bestor

    I’m the developer of Boxer, and I’m very grateful for this article and others like it – they really make working on Boxer a rewarding experience. There’s some major improvements in the works, which will make Boxer easier to use and integrate even better with the OS X experience, so I’m quite excited about the next release.

    However, I would like to give a proper shoutout to DOSBox itself, which is the emulator underpinning Boxer and doing the real work. Boxer abstracts away all of the messy work of figuring out how best to install or run a game and configuring the emulated DOS environment to match, but after that it’s DOSBox that’s letting you play your games. Boxer only exists by dint of the DOSBox team’s very hard work perfecting the DOS emulator!

  • Mr. Zerbini

    I’m trying the new 0.88 beta and there’s no big difference to the 0.87 version.
    Playing Simfarm and Wolfenstein very well Yeah !!!

    • http://boxerapp.com/ Alun Bestor

      To clarify, 0.88 is just a minor maintenance version – the big changes are coming in 1.0, which is not yet available as a beta. I hope to have a beta of it ready before the new year though.

  • http://rapidgood.com bookbb

    Wished they had the old floppy version of Nightmare on Elm Street. Still searching but I do highly recommend Darkseed – amazing RPG featuring a lot of art by H.R. Giger!

  • http://searchizz.com search and download

    it was my wish to play dos games on apple. Many games i found on searchizz.com. Now i enjoy!

  • http://filesxp.com hellen

    Wished they had the old floppy version of Nightmare on Elm Street. I hope to have a beta of it ready before the new year though.

  • http://www.designsojourn.com DT

    I’m having a blast from the past with Microprose’s Darklands, one of the best RPG games to have been created.

    I’m also waiting to have a go with X-com, but the dos version is buggy.

  • Pingback: How to Play DOS Games on Your Mac With Boxer Mac.AppStorm | Chicago Mac/PC Support

  • Lauren

    I’m very glad to have found Boxer, and am currently playing one of my favorite old games, Jurassic Park.

    It seems to be not quite right though; I feel that everything is moving very slowly in the game, although I haven’t played it in years and maybe it’s just the way the game is?

    Any advice would be much appreciated; I’m using a Mac OSX if it makes any difference.

  • http://ganar-buen-dinero.blogspot.com dinero

    Some are certainly better than others, but it’s a simple way to browse through what’s on offer.

  • http://www.zimbio.com/deloschangdartmouthh Rigoberto Cloepfil

    Do you have a spam concern with this website; Also i am a digg, and I used to be seeking to know your scenario; we’ve developed some nice methods and we’re looking to switch methods with other folks, please blast me an e mail if interested.

  • Flacote

    Now i can play x-com in my brand new mac (my first one). Could be any better?. Thanks to Boxer and Microprose. (sorry for my english, i’m latinamerican)

  • Luis

    can’t wait to find Duke Nuken and Titus the Fox, yet there was another i can’t recall. My older brother will love this!

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