Change Docker Desktop settings on Windows

This page provides information on how to configure and manage your Docker Desktop settings.

To navigate to Settings either:

  • Select the Docker menu whale menu and then Settings
  • Select the Settings icon from the Docker Dashboard.

General

On the General tab, you can configure when to start Docker and specify other settings:

  • Start Docker Desktop when you log in. Select to automatically start Docker Desktop when you log into your machine.

  • Choose Theme for Docker Desktop. Choose whether you want to apply a Light or Dark theme to Docker Desktop. Alternatively you can set Docker Desktop to Use System Settings.

  • Use integrated container terminal. Select to execute commands in a running container straight from the Docker Dashboard. For more information, see Explore containers.

  • Expose daemon on tcp://localhost:2375 without TLS. Check this option to enable legacy clients to connect to the Docker daemon. You must use this option with caution as exposing the daemon without TLS can result in remote code execution attacks.

  • Use the WSL 2 based engine. WSL 2 provides better performance than the Hyper-V backend. For more information, see Docker Desktop WSL 2 backend.

  • Send usage statistics. Select so Docker Desktop sends diagnostics, crash reports, and usage data. This information helps Docker improve and troubleshoot the application. Clear the check box to opt out. Docker may periodically prompt you for more information.

  • Show weekly tips. Select to display useful advice and suggestions about using Docker.

  • Open Docker Desktop dashboard at startup. Select to automatically open the dashboard when starting Docker Desktop.

  • Use Enhanced Container Isolation. Select to enhance security by preventing containers from breaching the Linux VM. For more information, see Enhanced Container Isolation

  • Use Docker Compose V2. Select to enable the docker-compose command to use Docker Compose V2. For more information, see Docker Compose V2.

Resources

The Resources tab allows you to configure CPU, memory, disk, proxies, network, and other resources. Different settings are available for configuration depending on whether you are using Linux containers in WSL 2 mode, Linux containers in Hyper-V mode, or Windows containers.

Advanced

Note

The Advanced tab is only available in Hyper-V mode, because Windows manages the resources in WSL 2 mode and Windows container mode. In WSL 2 mode, you can configure limits on the memory, CPU, and swap size allocated to the WSL 2 utility VM.

On the Advanced tab, you can limit resources available to Docker.

Advanced settings are:

  • CPUs. By default, Docker Desktop is set to use half the number of processors available on the host machine. To increase processing power, set this to a higher number; to decrease, lower the number.

  • Memory. By default, Docker Desktop is set to use 2 GB of your host’s memory. To increase the RAM, set this to a higher number; to decrease it, lower the number.

  • Swap. Configure swap file size as needed. The default is 1 GB.

  • Disk image size. Specify the size of the disk image.

  • Disk image location. Specify the location of the Linux volume where containers and images are stored.

You can also move the disk image to a different location. If you attempt to move a disk image to a location that already has one, you are asked if you want to use the existing image or replace it.

File sharing

Note

The File sharing tab is only available in Hyper-V mode because the files are automatically shared in WSL 2 mode and Windows container mode.

Use File sharing to allow local directories on your machine to be shared with Linux containers. This is especially useful for editing source code in an IDE on the host while running and testing the code in a container.

Note that configuring file sharing is not necessary for Windows containers, only Linux containers. If a directory is not shared with a Linux container you may get file not found or cannot start service errors at runtime. See Volume mounting requires shared folders for Linux containers.

File share settings are:

  • Add a Directory. Click + and navigate to the directory you want to add.

  • Remove a Directory. Click - next to the directory you want to remove

  • Apply & Restart makes the directory available to containers using Docker’s bind mount (-v) feature.

Tips on shared folders, permissions, and volume mounts

  • Share only the directories that you need with the container. File sharing introduces overhead as any changes to the files on the host need to be notified to the Linux VM. Sharing too many files can lead to high CPU load and slow filesystem performance.
  • Shared folders are designed to allow application code to be edited on the host while being executed in containers. For non-code items such as cache directories or databases, the performance will be much better if they are stored in the Linux VM, using a data volume (named volume) or data container.
  • Docker Desktop sets permissions to read/write/execute for users, groups and others 0777 or a+rwx. This is not configurable. See Permissions errors on data directories for shared volumes.
  • Windows presents a case-insensitive view of the filesystem to applications while Linux is case-sensitive. On Linux, it is possible to create two separate files: test and Test, while on Windows these filenames would actually refer to the same underlying file. This can lead to problems where an app works correctly on a developer’s machine (where the file contents are shared) but fails when run in Linux in production (where the file contents are distinct). To avoid this, Docker Desktop insists that all shared files are accessed as their original case. Therefore, if a file is created called test, it must be opened as test. Attempts to open Test will fail with the error “No such file or directory”. Similarly, once a file called test is created, attempts to create a second file called Test will fail.

Shared folders on demand

You can share a folder “on demand” the first time a particular folder is used by a container.

If you run a Docker command from a shell with a volume mount (as shown in the example below) or kick off a Compose file that includes volume mounts, you get a popup asking if you want to share the specified folder.

You can select to Share it, in which case it is added to your Docker Desktop Shared Folders list and available to containers. Alternatively, you can opt not to share it by selecting Cancel.

Shared folder on demand

Proxies

HTTP/HTTPS proxies can be used when:

  • Logging in to Docker
  • Pulling or pushing images
  • Fetching artifacts during image builds
  • Containers interact with the external network
  • Scanning images

If the host uses a HTTP/HTTPS proxy configuration (static or via Proxy Auto-Configuration), Docker Desktop reads this configuration and automatically uses these settings for logging into Docker, for pulling and pushing images, and for container Internet access. If the proxy requires authorization then Docker Desktop dynamically asks the developer for a username and password. All passwords are stored securely in the OS credential store. Note that only the Basic proxy authentication method is supported so we recommend using an https:// URL for your HTTP/HTTPS proxies to protect passwords while in transit on the network. Docker Desktop supports TLS 1.3 when communicating with proxies.

To set a different proxy for Docker Desktop, enable Manual proxy configuration and enter a single upstream proxy URL of the form http://proxy:port or https://proxy:port.

To prevent developers from accidentally changing the proxy settings, see Settings Management.

The HTTPS proxy settings used for scanning images are set using the HTTPS_PROXY environment variable.

Network

Note

The Network tab is not available in the Windows container mode because Windows manages networking.

You can configure Docker Desktop networking to work on a virtual private network (VPN). Specify a network address translation (NAT) prefix and subnet mask to enable Internet connectivity.

WSL Integration

In WSL 2 mode, you can configure which WSL 2 distributions will have the Docker WSL integration.

By default, the integration is enabled on your default WSL distribution. To change your default WSL distro, run wsl --set-default <distro name>. (For example, to set Ubuntu as your default WSL distro, run wsl --set-default ubuntu).

You can also select any additional distributions you would like to enable the WSL 2 integration on.

For more details on configuring Docker Desktop to use WSL 2, see Docker Desktop WSL 2 backend.

Docker Engine

The Docker Engine tab allows you to configure the Docker daemon used to run containers with Docker Desktop.

You configure the daemon using a JSON configuration file. Here’s what the file might look like:

{
  "builder": {
    "gc": {
      "defaultKeepStorage": "20GB",
      "enabled": true
    }
  },
  "experimental": false,
  "features": {
    "buildkit": true
  }
}

You can find this file at $HOME/.docker/daemon.json. To change the configuration, either edit the JSON configuration directly from the dashboard in Docker Desktop, or open and edit the file using your favorite text editor.

To see the full list of possible configuration options, see the dockerd command reference.

Select Apply & Restart to save your settings and restart Docker Desktop.

Kubernetes

Note

The Kubernetes tab is not available in Windows container mode.

Docker Desktop includes a standalone Kubernetes server, so that you can test deploying your Docker workloads on Kubernetes. To enable Kubernetes support and install a standalone instance of Kubernetes running as a Docker container, select Enable Kubernetes.

Select Show system containers (advanced) to view internal containers when using Docker commands.

Select Reset Kubernetes cluster to delete all stacks and Kubernetes resources.

For more information about using the Kubernetes integration with Docker Desktop, see Deploy on Kubernetes.

Software Updates

The Software Updates tab notifies you of any updates available to Docker Desktop. When there’s a new update, you can choose to download the update right away, or click the Release Notes option to learn what’s included in the updated version.

Turn off the check for updates by clearing the Automatically check for updates check box. This disables notifications in the Docker menu and the notification badge that appears on the Docker Dashboard. To check for updates manually, select the Check for updates option in the Docker menu.

To allow Docker Desktop to automatically download new updates in the background, select Always download updates. This downloads newer versions of Docker Desktop when an update becomes available. After downloading the update, click Apply and Restart to install the update. You can do this either through the Docker menu or in the Updates section in the Docker Dashboard.

Features in development

Use the Extensions tab to:

  • Enable Docker Extensions
  • Allow only extensions distributed through the Docker Marketplace
  • Show Docker Extensions system containers

For more information about Docker extensions, see Extensions.

Feature control

On the Feature control tab you can control your settings for Beta features and Experimental features.

You can also sign up to the Developer Preview Program from the Features in development tab.

Beta features

Beta features provide access to future product functionality. These features are intended for testing and feedback only as they may change between releases without warning or remove them entirely from a future release. Beta features must not be used in production environments. Docker doesn’t offer support for beta features.

Enable containerd

Turns on the experimental containerd image store. This brings new features like faster container startup performance by lazy-pulling images, and the ability to run Wasm applications with Docker.

Experimental features

On the Experimental features tab, you have the option to allow feature flags. These are features that Docker is currently experimenting with. This is switched on by default.

These features are intended for testing and feedback only as they may change between releases without warning or remove them entirely from a future release. Docker doesn’t offer support for experimental features.