How to play Doom on modern Windows systems


For help running Doom on other operating systems, see How to download and run Doom.

Playing Doom on the Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, and 11 operating systems can be problematic. Games based on the Doom engine originally ran under MS-DOS. Modern Windows versions have limited to no support for DOS programs, and the Doom and other Doom engine games may run poorly, have serious issues (sound support is especially affected), or not run at all, especially if the system is 64-bit.

Some previous commercial versions of Doom (such as the Collector's Edition) include Doom95, the original commercial Windows port of Doom. However, even this does not play correctly because of modern Windows compatibility issues and bugs in the port itself (see this page for detailed information).

Quick & easy solution[edit]

If the text below confuses you, or if you are unsure which source port you want to use, you can follow the instructions below to get to play Doom as quickly and easily as possible.

  • First install your Doom game normally to a folder of your choosing. If you do not have any of the Doom games, you can download the free shareware episode here.
    • If you downloaded the shareware episode, you should now have a file called Right-click on the file and extract its contents into a folder, e.g. Doom95.
  • Download latest Chocolate Doom version here.
  • Right-click on the Chocolate Doom archive and extract its files into the same folder as the shareware episode or where you installed the full game.
  • Open the folder and start chocolate-doom.exe, which should launch the game.
    • If you want to configure sound, keys or other features, open chocolate-setup.exe instead.

If you do not have the full Doom games and wish to purchase them, look here for further instructions.

Official versions[edit]

Various official versions of Doom are now available from id Software through, GOG, and Valve's Steam platform. Some of the versions of the game available utilize DOSBox to run the original executables (see below for more details), while others have ported the game engine so that it runs natively under the host operating system. The latter is true of Doom 3: BFG Edition, which includes the original Doom and Doom II (with slight modifications) along with Doom 3 and its expansion packs all in one package.

As of 2019, the official Doom Classic port has been made available on Windows PCs. This is a modern port supporting play of all the original Doom games on Windows 7 and later.

As of January 2024, it is no longer possible to execute the Steam client or install Steam games on versions of Windows older than Windows 10. However, it is still possible to use a newer version to install the DOS versions of the games and then copy the game files to an older PC, as they are capable of being used without the Steam client.

Source ports[edit]

By far the most effective solution is to use a source port. Many source ports exist which are derived from the Doom source code, Heretic source code and Hexen source code. These are further developed and much better supported than the official game engine versions released by id Software, Raven Software and Nerve Software.

For playing Doom with the same feel of the original engine (capped framerate, limited screen resolution and so on), Chocolate Doom exists. However, there are other source ports which come with a variety of new features along with lots of bug fixes and almost complete removal of the engine limitations. The most popular of them are:

And if you want to play multiplayer games on the internet, you should also try:

Setting up a source port[edit]

For choosing a source port, one should check the official website for more detailed information and support. Most source ports specialize in certain types of functionality and features. For a more detailed overview on source ports, see comparison of Doom source ports.

To set up a source port, first install the game as normal. Then go the source port's web site, download the source port's Windows version (usually stored in a Zip file), and extract the archive into the location where the game was installed. Running the source port executable (e.g. the file named prboom-plus.exe for PrBoom+, zdoom.exe for ZDoom and so on) should then start the game.

Many source ports, including Chocolate Doom and ZDoom, can detect the or Steam installation paths for the official versions of the game, and will automatically play them without requiring any copying of the IWAD files.


Using console versions of Doom whose ROM images are dumped into a file for game system emulators is another way to play Doom on Windows, but is not legal unless the player owns the original cartridge or disc, and has made a local backup copy.

Some source ports also exist which modernize this experience as well, including the following:

Other solutions[edit]

  • Use DOSBox to run the original DOS game executable (e.g. doom.exe for Doom, doom2.exe for Doom II, etc.). Poor performance can be improved by increasing the "cycles" parameter in the DOSBox configuration file. If you have difficulties setting up the program, you can try a user-friendly front-end such as D-Fend Reloaded.
  • It is also possible to set up an emulated PC, for example with VirtualBox, and install MS-DOS, DR-DOS, FreeDOS or Windows 9x inside it. DOSBox is often more accurate in its emulation than some of these solutions, but may not run as fast depending on the availability of technologies such as X86 virtualization.
  • SoundFX 2000 allows sound support for DOS games under Windows XP.
  • VDMSound does the same as the above.
  • On 32-bit versions of the Windows operating system, it may be possible to simply run the original DOS Doom, Heretic and Hexen executables without sound: either use the -nosound parameter or set snd_sfxdevice and snd_musicdevice to zero in the game configuration file.
    • It is possible to run with music but no sound effects: In setup, select General MIDI (not Sound Blaster), with 0x300 as the address. Sound effects should be turned off. This gives a configuration with music; however, even in this configuration the music may not play properly.