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Operating Systems

How to Run DOS

July 31, 2012 by admin in Operating Systems

DOS was once the predominantly used operating system in the 1980’s to early 1990’s. It has since been integrated with other systems and is no longer a necessity in newer versions of Windows. It is still used by some individuals for gaming purposes, altering computer configurations and also as a means of running certain executable files. In newer versions of Windows the MS-DOS prompt does not begin on boot up, however it is still possible to run MS-DOS on any version of the OS.

Required Materials and Tools

  • Working Computer
  • Windows OS
  • MS-DOS


To get to the DOS command line using different versions follow the simple instructions that are given below.

Starting DOS in Windows NT, 2000, XP, Vista and 7

  1. Enter the Start Menu.
  2. Once inside the Start menu click on the Run icon.
  3. In the designated field type the words cmd or command and then press enter.

For trouble shooting you may enter the MS-DOS prompt by booting the computer in safe mode. To do this you will have to use the MS-DOS boot diskette as none of these newer versions of Windows will allow the option to boot in MS-DOS prompt without the additional resource.

Starting DOS in Windows 95, 98 and ME

You may access DOS in two ways using these older systems.
First Method

  1. Click on the Start button at the left hand corner of the screen.
  2. Once you are in the menu click on the Run option.
  3. In the field specified enter the words command. You should be instantly taken to the DOS command line.

Second Method

  1. Click on the Start menu.
  2. Select the Shutdown icon.
  3. Restart the computer but this time in MS-DOS prompt. The option is available on these older models, simply select it from the list of options that appear on the screen during start up. It is best to use this method when you are troubleshooting. This will allow you to automatically access certain configurations that may not be available within the regular Windows user interface.

Windows 95 and 98 users may get into the MS-DOS prompt by pressing F8 or Ctrl respectively to get into the DOS command line. At this point you should choose the Safe mode command prompt and nothing else.

Running MS-DOS when there is no other operating system

If using a computer with only MS-DOS then booting DOS should be an automatic function. If you experience problems accessing MS-DOS follow the steps below.

  1. Boot your computer, if it does not go to MS-DOS automatically reboot the computer.
  2. While performing the second reboot press the F5 key once you see the message that states Starting MS-DOS. This will instantly load the default version of the program.
  3. After you have opened MS-DOS it may be best to block the program that is not allowing you to directly get into the MS-DOS prompt. Additionally you may correct errors that appear on start up by editing the config.sys and/or the autoexex.bat files.

Running DOS in Windows 3.x

This version of Windows will automatically load the Windows O/S without first loading the MS-DOS prompt. To get to MS-DOS simply follow the instructions below.

  1. Click on the Program Manager option.
  2. Click on File and then select Exit to enter the MS-DOS prompt.

Alternatively you may load MS-DOS by rebooting the computer and then pressing F5 once the Starting MS-DOS message appears. You can alter the system settings so that it does not load the Windows O/S automatically by re-configuring the autoexec.bat file. To do this, delete the “œwin” in the line of code.

Tips and Warning

  • You should not make arbitrary changes to the command line as this has the potential to affect the entire system.

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