Running Games on a Mac

I have one home computer: a white plastic 13″ MacBook from 2007. My hard drive died a couple weeks ago, and with it, my Windows partition and my ability to play any of my Steam or games. Fortunately, there’s a Mac Steam client now, and a bunch of games will run on DOSBox, for which there is a Mac version, so it’s not a complete loss.

The trouble with games is that you don’t download the game files directly. Instead, you download an .exe that then extracts the game files. And of course, Macs can’t run Windows executables. This is what hung me up for several hours the other night as I tried to get Gabriel Knight running on my old MacBook. Having come across a lot of outdated or too complicated guides for getting games running on my MacBook, I thought I would compile my research findings here for less technical people who may be in the same boat as me. Which is probably no one, let’s face it, but at least I will have this for future reference.

If you’re technical at all, this article is probably well below your level, but I’m just putting it out there in case someone without much technical know-how is interested in playing old games on their Mac with minimal fuss.

What you need:

1. X11 apparently comes installed by default with Mac OS X Leopard and above, but Apple didn’t include it when they reinstalled Leopard for me after my hard drive crash. Fortunately, you can download an open source version of X11 here. That is a link to the last Leopard version of X11, but clicking around will get you to older and newer versions for other editions of OS X.

2. Darwine proved tricky to find. I had a few installations of Wine, but none of them came with the WineHelper app that a bunch of tutorials said to use to run the executable. I eventually found this page, which is what you want if you’re still on Leopard.

3. Boxer is basically a friendly GUI for DOSBox–you drag game folders into the import window and it creates an app out of the game in whatever folder you choose, so all you have to do is click the app to run the game, instead of messing around with DOS commands. It works really well with games, but not all DOS games will work with it, which is why you may also need DOSBox, a DOS emulator for basically any system.

So basically, after you install X11, Darwine, and Boxer, and download your installer from, the next step is to run the installer in order to create a game folder with all the necessary game files. To do this, first open up the WineHelper app that came with Darwine, go to the Configure Wine… menu and the Drives tab. This will tell you what folder is mapped to your C drive for Wine; remember this because the GOG installer will put the game files in C:/Program Files/

Drag your game installer onto the WineHelper app and the installer should start up. You have a few options to install, I just left most of the defaults except the option to create a desktop shortcut. Once that finishes running, choose to exit the installer (instead of launching the game) and drop the game folder in to Boxer’s Import Game function. You may need to go through a setup prompt; just follow the instructions in Boxer. When it’s done, you’ll have an app in your Boxer folder that you can click and start the game.

I was able to get Gabriel Knight from GOG working this way, and I was also able to get Quest for Glory 1 VGA, 3, and 4 running as well (why are they not on GOG yet?! I would buy them again in a heartbeat!). QFG2, as an EGA game, ran into an issue where, after running the installer, I got an error saying it could not initialize video, or something. However, it was pretty easy to run the game in plain old DOSBox. I started DOSBox, mounted the folder containing the QFG folder as my C drive, navigated to that drive, and ran trial.bat. Not quite as easy as clicking on something, but it beat messing around with installers.

ProTip for QFG players: in order to import saves, you’ll have to copy your export .sav file into the actual Boxer app. Right click on, for example, the QFG3 app and click “Show Package Contents.” Inside there is a C.harddisk folder, which is the folder that Boxer maps to the C drive when running this game. Paste your .sav file inside that folder, then when you go to import your save, change the directory to C:/ and it should be there.

That should be enough to run most DOS games from GOG (here is a handy list of those games), and probably any other old DOS games you miss. I found this post to be helpful, but the link to Darwine is outdated and doesn’t contain the WineHelper app that is needed. But it does have some screenshots if you’re still having trouble. There’s also an extensive thread here on the GOG forums with a few different methods of getting games working, but most of them involve Winery, which I couldn’t get working, and CrossOver Games, which costs money. Thanks to DOSBox, you can run most very old games for free, but apparently some of the newer games on GOG will also work using CXG.

Anyway, I hope this was helpful to someone. Good luck.

ETA: Don’t forget to patch your QFG games!


One thought on “Running Games on a Mac

  1. Pingback: Reasons You Should Play Quest for Glory | While !Finished

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