DOSBox Keys and Functions

Updated for DOSBox 0.74

DOSBox has a number of specialised function keys that can be used to quickly adjust the program features at any time during its operation. Either when in a DOS command prompt, when running a full screen program or playing a full screen game. I will list all the function key combinations and their usage.

Full Screen Mode

Like any Windows application you can switch DOSBox between Windowed and full screen mode by using the ALT-ENTER key combination.


DOSBox can be paused at any time by pressing ALT-Pause. Once paused, you can resume your activity by repeating the same combination.

Rescan / Update Directory Cache

In the previous tutorial I spoke about the need of using the rescan prompt command. This is needed whenever a drive, folder or file used by DOSBox was changed externally, such as by Windows Computer. Instead of typing rescan at prompt you can also use the CTRL-F4 key combination to update the cache on all your DOSBox mounted drives and images.

Movie Recording *

DOSBox has the ability to record directly to a movie file. By default the movie file will be stored in the capture sub-directory within the DOSBox program directory. within the Users AppData, Local, DOSBox directory. There is a shortcut to this listed as Capture folder Screenshots & Recordings which is in the Extras sub-folder in the DOSBox menu item within Windows start menu.

To initiate recording you press the CTRL-ALT-F5 combination. To stop recording, you press the same combination again.

When engaged DOSBox will create an AVI movie, including any audio using the ZMBV (Zip Motion Blocks Video) codec. It will be named based on the active DOS program’s file name that is currently active. While the movie recording is designed mainly for recording games and demos, you can also use it to record DOS prompt activity.

To successfully record a DOSBox movie you must first make sure you have installed the ZMBV codec to your computer. Again, Vista users should run the codec install shortcut using the ‘Run as Administrator’ option.

DOSBox 0.74 Screenshots & Recordings

Screenshot Capture *

You can save a screenshot of DOSBox’s content at anytime by using the CTRL-F5 combination. All captures will be stored in the default DOSBox captures directory. This can be found through a shortcut listed as Capture folder Extras, Screenshots & Recordings within the DOSBox Windows start menu.

Audio Recording *

CTRL-F6 will engage audio recording for DOSBox. You can initiate this at any time, even when there is no audio output from DOSBox. All audio will be recorded and saved as a standard WAV file and stored in the default Capture folder Extras, Screenshots & Recordings DOSBox menu item. The WAV audio format is uncompressed and widely supported. So you can easily use any audio converter program to compress and convert the audio into any format you wish, including MP3.

If you are looking for an audio converter, most popular CD-DVD burning packages include some form of audio conversion tool.

In Roxio Creator you can use the Sound Editor’s export function, while Nero has the included WaveEditor program. The free and open sourced Audacity would be another popular choice.

Quit, Exit or Kill

At anytime in full screen or windowed mode you can terminate the DOSBox application by using the CTRL-F9 combination.

Speed Adjustment

By default DOSBox will automatically detect and adjust its emulated speed to the DOS program it is running. Occasionally it gets this timing measurement wrong so DOSBox gives you the option to manually tweak the speed the speed settings.

CTRL-F11 will slow down the emulation
CTRL-F12 will speed up the emulation

ALT-F12 will remove all speed restrictions imposed by the emulation

Restoring your Mouse

Occasionally you will run a DOS program that has inbuilt mouse support. Many newer adventure games fall into this category. If a program supports the mouse, DOSBox automatically locks your mouse into its program window for exclusive usage. If you wish to restore the mouse back to general Windows usage press CTRL-F10.

* Note, Windows Vista users will need to run DOSBox using the ‘Run as administrator’ if you wish to record or capture. You can find this option by right clicking the DOSBox program shortcut in Windows start menu.

24 thoughts on “DOSBox Keys and Functions

  1. Hey!

    I am reading just now the last post 🙂 So mine is an newer version? But then why don’t you make a revision?

  2. Hey!

    CTRL + F5 is not working for screen capture. I have only an MacOS and an Resource folder there.

  3. I took a bunch of screenshots the first time I ran it. They are not in my program files folder. There is no DosBox.conf or INI folder. There is no folder named ‘captures’ in my appdata or in my documents or my documents\my pictures. There is no “shortcut to captures” in the start menu. In short, everything on this page is wrong and has not helped me find the screenshots I captured… at all. Misinformation.

    1. Had you looked at the date of the article you would have noticed it published 2.5 years ago. You might have also realised it is referring to an earlier edition of DOSBox, 0.72 to be exact. Significant changes have been made in the two revisions of DOSBox since the original publication of this article. As I am a nice person I have decided to revise the article, good luck and maybe in future you should pay more attention rather than just berating peoples work.

  4. Hi, my problem is to use CTRL-F11 and CTRL-F12 on PSP. I cannot define to use them even with

    INPUTMAP select lctrl
    INPUTMAP ltrigger f11

    or such tricks. Is there a way to use speed changing hot keys somehow on PSP under DosBox?

    Thanks for your help in advance.

    1. I am sorry I have no idea in regards to the PSP port of DOSBox. Is there no specific PSP documentation or README included with the port package.

    2. Thanks for explaining that, Ben! I thought I was going to have to buy a copy of “YouTube for Dummies” to learn how to post gameplay videos of games running under DOSBox.

  5. I was looking for a way to restore my mouse. I used to do that by going fullscreen and then restoring the window. I found a better way to do that here. Thanks.

    1. The way I’ve been restoring my mouse to general Windows use is to tap the mute button on my keyboard; when I want to use the mouse within the game again, I move the cursor to anywhere in the DOSBox window & click. It’s nice to hear of other ways to do it, though (including the “official” DOSBox keyboard shortcut for doing it).
      BTW, I’ve persuaded my teenage daughter to teach me how to do video capture, so I can attempt to record “Let’s Play” walkthroughs of some of my favorite DOS games. I’m guessing that to add voice narration or on-screen text captions, one would need to use a 3rd-party program. Windows Movie Maker comes with newer computers (as part of Windows Live Essentials) — would that work, or would something else be preferable? (Please excuse my ignorance; I know my daughter has created music lyrics videos with Windows Movie Maker, but I haven’t yet used the program myself.)

      1. YouTube actually allows you to do that in post, after you have uploaded the video. You can annotate, add subtitles, captions or even replace the audio.

  6. I am guessing ZMBV playback wouldn’t work on something like Apple’s Quicktime. You would need a player that is based on the open source ffmpeg library. Try MPlayer or VLC media player. Both are available for the Mac, and are open sourced, I prefer VLC myself.

    VLC media player

  7. I had a play around with it and got all the capturing to work but the video playback will not produce anything visually, only visualy. I am trying to rectify this but am not able to play with the ZMBV codec as you suggest on my platform.

    Thanks for your reply.

  8. I don’t have access to OS/X. And seeing Apple do not allow you to run OS/X on non-Mac hardware, I never will.

    From quick research it seems the Mac version of DOSBox is not unlike the GNU/Linux version. So you have to create the directories yourself. I suggest reading this to get yourself up and running ..

    Once complete, in the folder containing your DOSBox.conf file and DOSBox, you should create a “CAPTURE” directory. That is where, by default DOSBox will send any captures. You can change that directory to a different location, but you will have to search for and edit the line captures=capture in your DOSBox.conf.

    Also instead of using the [Ctrl][F5] keys for screen-shot capturing, you might wish to try [Option][F5] etc.

    Sorry that is the best I can do without access to a Mac myself.

  9. It would be nice to have a Mac version, I’m sure they are not too dissimilar but the Mac version does not have an install directory with a folder for screen captures and video captures and I’m still tryin to figure out how to do it..

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