How to force fullscreen games to play in windowed mode

Martin Brinkmann
May 4, 2014
Updated • Nov 14, 2019

I like to play classic computer games from time to time and purchase them most of the time on Good Old Games. While those games run without issues on modern Windows PCs, you sometimes notice that they have been designed for hardware long past its prime time.

The screen resolution for instance may be set to 640x480 or even less, which looks out of place on modern HD monitors. One solution for that particular issue is to run the game in windowed mode.

While some games offer options to play them in window mode right away, others may not and that is were the problems begin.

This guide looks at the various options that you have to run computer games, old or new, in a window instead of full screen.


The first thing that you may want to try is hit the Alt-Enter key on your keyboard while the game is running in fullscreen mode. Some games change the mode to window automatically when you use the shortcut, while some won't.

This is the easiest option to try, which is why I have selected it as the first choice in this regard.

Program settings / ini files

game in window mode

Some programs let you change the display mode -- including whether to run them in full screen mode or not -- in the program preferences.

Just open the preferences and go through them one by one to find out if the game you want to run in a window offers that option natively.

To give you an example: Dota 2 has a preference under Video / Audio that you can use to change the display mode from fullscreen to window or borderless window.

game running in window

Dota 2

For Windows

Some games ship with .ini files in the game directory that may offer options to change the game resolution and display mode as well.

To find out if that is the case for the game you try to play, open the game's program folder on your system and search for .ini files.

If you do not find any here, chance is that it does not use these files.

Program shortcut

window shortcut

Another option that you have is to add commands to the program shortcut. Right-click on the shortcut on your system and add commands like the following ones to the end of the target field:

  • w
  • window
  • windowmode

Note that you may need elevated privileges to save these information to the file. Not all games support those commands, but some do. There may be other variations such as -f resolution, e.g. -f 1024x768

Game wrappers

run in window

Game wrappers may help you run games in a window. They intercept calls and use emulation to provide this and other functionality.

As with all solutions before, they work on some games but not on all of them. Here is a short selection of wrappers for you to try out:

  • DirectX OpenGL Wrapper - emulates API calles through OpenGL in order to run DirectX applications on other platforms.
  • DxWnd - the most sophisticated program of them all. A boatload of options, and the core purpose of the program is to make DirectX fullscreen games playable in windows.
  • Glide - has not been updated since 2005 but may still work with older games.


For Windows


This is the last resort. If you want to play a DOS game, or a game with a DOS version, DOSBox is your first choice as it ships with all the functionality you need for that.


For Windows

If not, then you need something different. If you are running Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise, you can make use of Windows XP Mode to run games in a window on your system.

If you do not, you can use virtualization software such as VMware or VirtualBox instead. What they do basically is emulate another operating system on your PC. Since it runs in windowed mode, all games that you install and launch in a virtual environment will also run in that mode.


For Windows

How to force fullscreen games to play in windowed mode
Article Name
How to force fullscreen games to play in windowed mode
How to run low-resolution fullscreen games in a window. Guaranteed to work.

Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Anonymous said on April 5, 2022 at 5:36 pm

    you can use the: windows + G, command to open windows game bar, there you can screenrecord all games

  2. Anonymous said on November 11, 2020 at 2:36 am

    Tried Using The Short cut on Genshin Impact, Since It won’t let me in the windowed version. Short cut doesn’t work.

  3. Jaco said on August 20, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    Thank you!!!!

  4. Manik said on July 31, 2020 at 10:06 am

    Thanks, Thankyou so much for telling the shortcut

  5. Paul said on July 28, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    Alt + Enter didn’t work at all on any GOG game I tried. None.

  6. Anant Sharma said on July 20, 2020 at 5:44 am

    i was trying to play battlefield bad company 2 in windowed mode as there wasnt an option in the game settings, ALT+ENTER key works. if anyone wants to play this game, use the ALT+ENTER key method

  7. nancy said on April 24, 2020 at 4:09 pm

    thank you so much! just adding the -window worked perfectly!

  8. Anonymous said on October 23, 2019 at 6:38 am

    Thank you so much sir! DxWnd is so good! I use DxWnd to try a lot of games they all works! Finally they won’t crash any more! Thank you so much!

  9. kazerniel said on April 22, 2019 at 1:14 am

    Googled this issue regarding Sims 3, and I found an app called Borderless Gaming that solved my problem:

  10. felipealaz said on February 22, 2019 at 5:24 am

    am in linux T-T

  11. Wout S said on June 8, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    You are my hero`s, i searched so long but did not find anything untill this one…
    Best guys ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Your said on April 14, 2018 at 4:14 am

    Bro you are the best. Thanks.

  13. Lady_Phedre said on July 16, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Thank you, Martin! I love my old games, but with today’s multitasking needs, being able to run those “oldies but goodies” in windowed mode is a must. DxWnd worked perfectly, though it took me a moment to figure out how to use it. Wish I had found this article years ago. Thanks again!

  14. StoryMaker said on January 13, 2017 at 12:14 am

    DxWnd worked like a charm! Thank you so much!

  15. Henke said on November 26, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    Alt+Enter always works for me. :)

  16. Edgaras said on August 15, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Hotkey Alt+Enter worked. Thanks a bunch. :)

  17. Jadu said on July 5, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    The Alt+Enter really does work
    Appreciated it .. Thanks a lot

  18. Udith said on September 17, 2015 at 5:41 am

    It worked man.For call of duty M.w 2

  19. Gamer~ said on June 29, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Alt+Enter+Game Configurations to change for 1280×720 prevented me to die during Passing Pineview Forest and Haunted Memories gameplay recording. Thanks! :D

  20. DJToasterWaffle said on April 20, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    None of these have worked for me on the game god mode, need help! (i may have done things wrong)

  21. Kip Nox said on March 29, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Alt-Enter did it. Thanks!

  22. Trevader24135 said on March 1, 2015 at 1:07 am

    Great! the shortcut one worked great! thanks!

  23. CSDragon said on December 12, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I like how GOG’s version of Settlers 2 was the wrapper example because I’m trying to figure out how to Window Settlers 3.

  24. Daniel Postoronka said on November 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    NOTHING here worked! I want to force Trainz UTC to be windowed. :( I need to screen record the gameplay. My computer doesn’t support screen recording on full screen applications, please help me!

    1. Anonymous said on April 5, 2022 at 5:26 pm

      you can use the: windows + G, command to open windows game bar, there you can screenrecord all games

    2. MMS85 said on November 8, 2020 at 10:23 pm

      Old thread but anyway.

      Virtual machine can do that, it is basicly second computer in youre computer, but it takes a lot of tweaking to work and whole new oem with drivers n stuff.

      Another thing if you could buy capture card, and it will record everything you see on youre monitor via hdmi cable to another computer, but they can be pricy…

      I am wanting to record some soundtracks from older games, having this no windowed mode issue, frikkin annoying.

      I could just leave the record on and launch the game, but then you need to do lots of editing.

  25. Rook said on May 4, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    This page also has a lot of information on (borderless) windowed mode:

    1. Bob said on May 5, 2014 at 6:02 am

      Would be so much better if it wasn’t in wiki format.

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