Introduction: How to Use Norton's Commander in DosBox to Play Games

Today, I will be giving everyone a quick tutorial on how to set up DosBox to run with Norton's Commander (NC for short) to make it easier to play games.

First let me describe what Norton's Commander is exactly. Norton's Commander is a file manager that Norton (yes the same company that makes anti-virus) created in 1986. Norton's Commander created a virtual desktop for Dos users. NC gave users the ability to see file directories and choose the file they wanted instead of having to input the file manually. NC also made it easier for users to manipulate files quickly.

I decided to write this tutorial, because I've had friends ask me how to set DosBox up to work easier for them. I searched all over the internet and wasn't able to find this tutorial. Because this process is so easy and easier than running Dos natively, I think everyone should have access to this process. This tutorial should take 5-10 minutes at the longest.

Step 1: Download DosBox & Create a Dos Games Folder

The first step is to download DosBox here. Take note of where the DosBox folder has been saved as we will need to come back to it later.

Once DosBox has been downloaded and installed, you will want to create a folder to put all of your dos games. My file directory is C:DosGames. It is important when saving your dos games in this folder to make sure that you use short names because NC can only handle 8 letters. We will come back to this folder in the next step.

Step 2: Download Norton's Commander

Now, it is time to download NC. NC is the sixth program down, underneath Daemon tools. All you have to do is click "get it!" Once downloaded, unzip NC to the folder you created in the first step and save the file as NC.

Step 3: Auto-mount NC in DosBox

This is the most technical step in the process, but it is very easy to do. First you need to open up your DosBox folder where DosBox downloaded to. Next, open up the file dosbox.conf (this file is opened by Notepad by default.) Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page, and leave one blank line and type as follows:

EDIT (May 12,2010)

In the new version of DosBox, 0.74 you must navigate to your DOSBox 0.74 folder and open the file DOSBox 0.74 Options.bat to access the conf file. Alternatively, you can navigate to the DOSBox 0.74 folder in your start menu and select the Options Folder, followed by DOSBox 0.74 Options to access the conf file. Continue to input the same mount as follows.

mount c: c:\(name of created folder in first step)
cd nc

My mount looks like this:

mount c: c:\DosGames

Save the file and close.

Step 4: Download the Elder Scrolls: Arena

For this step, we have to download a game to test. For our game, I chose The Elder Scrolls: Arena. This is a great RPG that spawned Oblivion and Morrowind. Once downloaded, unzip the file to your dos games folder as Arena.

Step 5: Success!

Open your DosBox, and you should be greeted by a screen that looks to be splitted in half. The right side is your NC. If you double click the ".." at the very top, it will take you into your dos games folder where you should double click on Arena. Once inside the folder, double click on the "a exe" file. You should be running Arena in no time now. In DosBox, most all programs use executable files, though some use batch files instead. It's usually pretty easy to decide which exe or bat you want as most are install, setup, sound, etc...

Now that we have successfully set up our DosBox, lets cruise over to Abandonia to download more games!

*If you can't get NC auto-mounted, please check to make sure you typed everything correctly, and that you left a space between the last entry and your mount c: entry.*

Step 6: Useful Key Commands

So now that you've got everything all downloaded and ready to play all the games from yesteryear, you've found that some games are too fast, too slow, or that you'd much prefer playing in full screen mode.  I can help with that, too.  The following is a list of commands that can help make the game-playing experience better.

Alt+Enter = Full Screen/Windowed Mode
Alt+Pause = Pause
Ctrl+F5 = Screenshot as .png
Ctrl+F7 = Decrease Frameskip
Ctrl+F8 = Increase Frameskip
Ctrl+F9 = Kill DosBox
Ctrl+F10 = Lock/Unlock the mouse to DosBox
Ctrl+F11 = Decrease Cycles (Slows down emulation)
Ctrl+F12 = Increase Cycles (Speeds up emulation)

Alternatively, If you want all of your games to run in Full Screen mode, you can edit the conf file again and find the option fullscreen and change it from false to true.

One final tip is that you can add the word "exit" (without the quotation marks) to the end of the mount under "nc."  By doing so, when you press F10 to exit NC, DosBox closes automatically to your desktop. This step is not necessary, but does save a little time and hair-pulling trying to remember the Ctrl+F10 command to access your mouse.

Now that you have everything you need, go forth and prosper.