Install Docker Desktop on Windows

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Docker Desktop for Windows is the Community version of Docker for Microsoft Windows. You can download Docker Desktop for Windows from Docker Hub.

Download from Docker Hub

By downloading Docker Desktop, you agree to the terms of the Docker Software End User License Agreement and the Docker Data Processing Agreement.

What to know before you install

System Requirements

  • Windows 10 64-bit: Pro, Enterprise, or Education (Build 15063 or later).
  • Hyper-V and Containers Windows features must be enabled.
  • The following hardware prerequisites are required to successfully run Client Hyper-V on Windows 10:

Note: Docker supports Docker Desktop on Windows based on Microsoft’s support lifecycle for Windows 10 operating system. For more information, see the Windows lifecycle fact sheet.

README for Docker Toolbox and Docker Machine users: Microsoft Hyper-V is required to run Docker Desktop. The Docker Desktop Windows installer enables Hyper-V if required, and restarts your machine. When Hyper-V is enabled, VirtualBox no longer works. However, any existing VirtualBox VM images are retained.

VirtualBox VMs created with docker-machine (including the default one typically created during Toolbox install) no longer start. These VMs cannot be used side-by-side with Docker Desktop. However, you can still use docker-machine to manage remote VMs.

What’s included in the installer

The Docker Desktop installation includes Docker Engine, Docker CLI client, Docker Compose, Docker Machine, and Kitematic.

Containers and images created with Docker Desktop are shared between all user accounts on machines where it is installed. This is because all Windows accounts use the same VM to build and run containers.

Nested virtualization scenarios, such as running Docker Desktop on a VMWare or Parallels instance might work, but there are no guarantees. For more information, see Running Docker Desktop in nested virtualization scenarios.

Note: Refer to the Docker compatibility matrix for complete Docker compatibility information with Windows Server.

About Windows containers

Looking for information on using Windows containers?

Install Docker Desktop on Windows

  1. Double-click Docker Desktop Installer.exe to run the installer.

    If you haven’t already downloaded the installer (Docker Desktop Installer.exe), you can get it from Docker Hub. It typically downloads to your Downloads folder, or you can run it from the recent downloads bar at the bottom of your web browser.

  2. Follow the instructions on the installation wizard to accept the license, authorize the installer, and proceed with the install.

    When prompted, authorize the Docker Desktop Installer with your system password during the install process. Privileged access is needed to install networking components, links to the Docker apps, and manage the Hyper-V VMs.

  3. Click Finish on the setup complete dialog and launch the Docker Desktop application.

Start Docker Desktop

Docker Desktop does not start automatically after installation. To start Docker Desktop, search for Docker, and select Docker Desktop in the search results.

search for Docker app

When the whale icon in the status bar stays steady, Docker Desktop is up-and-running, and is accessible from any terminal window.

whale on taskbar

If the whale icon is hidden in the Notifications area, click the up arrow on the taskbar to show it. To learn more, see Docker Settings.

After installing the Docker Desktop app, you also get a pop-up success message with suggested next steps, and a link to this documentation.

Startup information

When initialization is complete, click the whale icon in the Notifications area and select About Docker Desktop to verify that you have the latest version.

Congratulations! You are successfully running Docker Desktop on Windows.

Uninstall Docker Desktop

To uninstall Docker Desktop from your Windows machine:

  1. From the Windows Start menu, select Settings > Apps > Apps & features.
  2. Select Docker Desktop from the Apps & features list and then select Uninstall.
  3. Click Uninstall to confirm your selection.

Note: Uninstalling Docker Desktop will destroy Docker containers and images local to the machine and remove the files generated by the application.

Switch between Stable and Edge versions

Docker Desktop allows you to switch between Stable and Edge releases. However, you can only have one version of Docker Desktop installed at a time. Switching between Stable and Edge versions can destabilize your development environment, particularly in cases where you switch from a newer (Edge) channel to an older (Stable) channel.

For example, containers created with a newer Edge version of Docker Desktop may not work after you switch back to Stable because they may have been created using Edge features that aren’t in Stable yet. Keep this in mind as you create and work with Edge containers, perhaps in the spirit of a playground space where you are prepared to troubleshoot or start over.

To safely switch between Edge and Stable versions, ensure you save images and export the containers you need, then uninstall the current version before installing another. For more information, see the section Save and Restore data below.

Save and restore data

You can use the following procedure to save and restore images and container data. For example, if you want to switch between Edge and Stable, or to reset your VM disk:

  1. Use docker save -o images.tar image1 [image2 ...] to save any images you want to keep. See save in the Docker Engine command line reference.

  2. Use docker export -o myContainner1.tar container1 to export containers you want to keep. See export in the Docker Engine command line reference.

  3. Uninstall the current version of Docker Desktop and install a different version (Stable or Edge), or reset your VM disk.

  4. Use docker load -i images.tar to reload previously saved images. See load in the Docker Engine.

  5. Use docker import -i myContainer1.tar to create a file system image corresponding to the previously exported containers. See import in the Docker Engine.

For information on how to back up and restore data volumes, see Backup, restore, or migrate data volumes.

Where to go next

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