How do you fix "This program cannot be run in DOS mode"?


Quick Answer

When the "This program cannot be run in DOS mode" error appears, it is due to a piece of software running that cannot operate in the MS-DOS compatibility mode that Windows uses to handle programs designed to run in DOS. By booting the computer up in DOS mode, or changing the settings on the MS-DOS compatibility mode, the software can run without the error message.

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Full Answer

  1. Change the settings on Compatibility Mode

    In some versions of Windows, changing the ability for MS-DOS programs to detect programs that are in DOS mode fixes the issue. From the Start Menu, type in "command" in the text box. On systems using Vista or older versions of Windows, go to the Run option in the Start Menu, and then type in "command". Then, hit Enter. A DOS-mode window appears. Right-click on the title bar of the window, and click on Properties. Then, click on the Advanced button. A dialog box appears. Click the box labeled "Prevent MS-DOS-based programs from detecting Windows" to make sure it is highlighted. Then, run the program that is displaying the error message.

  2. Boot the computer in DOS

    If the program producing the error is a setup program for an older version of Windows, starting the computer with the installation disc in the appropriate drive boots the computer into DOS mode for the installation program. Otherwise, a boot disc can be created for DOS by using a blank USB drive. Download the Rufus software, run the program and connect a USB drive. Select the inserted drive under the Devices drop-down menu, then make sure the "Create a bootable disk using:" option is selected. Select FreeDOS from the drop-down menu beside this option, then click Start. Copy the program that is giving the error onto the USB drive as well. Once the operation is completed, restart the computer with the USB drive inserted. It boots the computer into DOS. Find the software using DOS commands such as "cd x", where "x" is the name of the directory in which the software is located. Run the software that is giving the error message from the command line.

  3. Emulate a DOS installation

    Download a copy of DOSBox, and install the program. Copy the program that is giving the error code into the installation directory for the DOSBox program. Once the software is copied to the correct location, run the DOSBox program. A DOS window should appear. Using DOS commands, run the program giving the error from the installed location.

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