Get started with Docker for Windows

Estimated reading time: 18 minutes

Welcome to Docker for Windows!

Docker is a full development platform for creating containerized apps, and Docker for Windows is the best way to get started with Docker on Windows.

See Install Docker for Windows for information on system requirements and stable & edge channels.

Test your installation

  1. Open a terminal window (Command Prompt or PowerShell, but not PowerShell ISE).

  2. Run docker --version to ensure that you have a supported version of Docker:

    > docker --version
    Docker version 18.03.0-ce, build 0520e24
  3. Pull the hello-world image from Docker Hub and run a container:

    > docker run hello-world
    docker : Unable to find image 'hello-world:latest' locally
    Pulling from library/hello-world
    Pulling fs layer
    Download complete
    Pull complete
    Digest: sha256:97ce6fa4b6cdc0790cda65fe7290b74cfebd9fa0c9b8c38e979330d547d22ce1
    Status: Downloaded newer image for hello-world:latest
    Hello from Docker!
    This message shows that your installation appears to be working correctly.
  4. List the hello-world image that was downloaded from Docker Hub:

    > docker image ls
  5. List the hello-world container (that exited after displaying “Hello from Docker!”):

    > docker container ls --all
  6. Explore the Docker help pages by running some help commands:

    > docker --help
    > docker container --help
    > docker container ls --help
    > docker run --help

Explore the application

In this section, we demonstrate the ease and power of Dockerized applications by running something more complex, such as an OS and a webserver.

  1. Pull an image of the Ubuntu OS and run an interactive terminal inside the spawned container:

    > docker run --interactive --tty ubuntu bash
    docker : Unable to find image 'ubuntu:latest' locally
    Pulling from library/ubuntu
    Pulling fs layer
    Pulling fs layer
    Pulling fs layer
    Digest: sha256:e348fbbea0e0a0e73ab0370de151e7800684445c509d46195aef73e090a49bd6
    Status: Downloaded newer image for ubuntu:latest

    Do not use PowerShell ISE

    Interactive terminals do not work in PowerShell ISE (but they do in PowerShell). See docker/for-win/issues/223.

  2. You are in the container. At the root # prompt, check the hostname of the container:

    root@8aea0acb7423:/# hostname

    Notice that the hostname is assigned as the container ID (and is also used in the prompt).

  3. Exit the shell with the exit command (which also stops the container):

    root@8aea0acb7423:/# exit
  4. List containers with the --all option (because no containers are running).

    The hello-world container (randomly named, relaxed_sammet) stopped after displaying its message. The ubuntu container (randomly named, laughing_kowalevski) stopped when you exited the container.

    > docker container ls --all
    CONTAINER ID    IMAGE          COMMAND     CREATED          STATUS                      PORTS    NAMES
    8aea0acb7423    ubuntu         "bash"      2 minutes ago    Exited (0) 2 minutes ago             laughing_kowalevski
    45f77eb48e78    hello-world    "/hello"    3 minutes ago    Exited (0) 3 minutes ago             relaxed_sammet
  5. Pull and run a Dockerized nginx web server that we name, webserver:

    > docker run --detach --publish 80:80 --name webserver nginx
    Unable to find image 'nginx:latest' locally
    latest: Pulling from library/nginx
    fdd5d7827f33: Pull complete
    a3ed95caeb02: Pull complete
    716f7a5f3082: Pull complete
    7b10f03a0309: Pull complete
    Digest: sha256:f6a001272d5d324c4c9f3f183e1b69e9e0ff12debeb7a092730d638c33e0de3e
    Status: Downloaded newer image for nginx:latest
  6. Point your web browser at http://localhost to display the nginx start page. (You don’t need to append :80 because you specified the default HTTP port in the docker command.)

    Run nginx edge

  7. List only your running containers:

    > docker container ls
    CONTAINER ID    IMAGE    COMMAND                   CREATED          STATUS          PORTS                 NAMES
    0e788d8e4dfd    nginx    "nginx -g 'daemon of…"    2 minutes ago    Up 2 minutes>80/tcp    webserver
  8. Stop the running nginx container by the name we assigned it, webserver:

    >  docker container stop webserver
  9. Remove all three containers by their names -- the latter two names will differ for you:

    > docker container rm webserver laughing_kowalevski relaxed_sammet

Docker Settings dialog

The Docker for Windows menu is a popup by which you can configure your Docker settings -- installation, updates, version channels, Docker Hub login, and more.

This section explains the configuration options accessible from the Settings dialog.

  1. Open the Docker for Windows menu by right-clicking the Docker icon in the Notifications area (or System tray):

    Showing hidden apps in the taskbar

  2. Select Settings... to open the Settings dialog:

    Docker for Windows popup menu


On the General tab of the Settings dialog, you can configure when to start and update Docker.


  • Start Docker when you log in - Automatically start the Docker for Windows application upon Windows system login.

  • Automatically check for updates - By default, Docker for Windows automatically checks for updates and notifies you when an update is available. Click OK to accept and install updates (or cancel to keep the current version). You can manually update by choosing Check for Updates from the main Docker menu.

  • Send usage statistics - By default, Docker for Windows sends diagnostics, crash reports, and usage data. This information helps Docker improve and troubleshoot the application. Uncheck to opt out. Docker may also sometimes prompt you for more information.

Shared drives

Share your local drives (volumes) with Docker for Windows, so that they are available to your Linux containers.

Shared drives

Permission for shared drives are tied to the credentials you provide here. If you run docker commands under a different username than the one configured here, your containers cannot access the mounted volumes.

To apply shared drives, you are prompted for your Windows system (domain) username and password. You can select an option to have Docker Store the credentials so that you don’t need to enter them every time.

Tips on shared drives, permissions, and volume mounts

Firewall rules for shared drives

Shared drives require port 445 to be open between the host machine and the virtual machine that runs Linux containers. Docker detects if port 445 is closed and shows the following message when you try to add a shared drive:

Port 445 blocked

To share the drive, allow connections between the Windows host machine and the virtual machine in Windows Firewall or your third party firewall software. You do not need to open port 445 on any other network.

By default, allow connections to on port 445 (the Windows host) from (the virtual machine). If your firewall rules seem correct, you may need to toggle or reinstall the File and Print sharing service on the Hyper-V virtual network card

Shared drives on demand

You can share a drive “on demand” the first time a particular mount is requested.

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 drive.

You can select to Share it, in which case it is added your Docker for Windows Shared Drives list and available to containers. Alternatively, you can opt not to share it by hitting Cancel.

Shared drive on demand


The Linux VM restarts after changing the settings on the Advanced tab. This takes a few seconds.

CPU and Memory settings

  • CPUs - Change the number of processors assigned to the Linux VM.

  • Memory - Change the amount of memory the Docker for Windows Linux VM uses.


You can configure Docker for Windows networking to work on a virtual private network (VPN).

Network settings

  • Internal Virtual Switch - You can specify a network address translation (NAT) prefix and subnet mask to enable internet connectivity.

  • DNS Server - You can configure the DNS server to use dynamic or static IP addressing.

Note: Some users reported problems connecting to Docker Hub on Docker for Windows stable version. This would manifest as an error when trying to run docker commands that pull images from Docker Hub that are not already downloaded, such as a first time run of docker run hello-world. If you encounter this, reset the DNS server to use the Google DNS fixed address: For more information, see Networking issues in Troubleshooting.

Updating these settings requires a reconfiguration and reboot of the Linux VM.


Docker for Windows lets you configure HTTP/HTTPS Proxy Settings and automatically propagates these to Docker and to your containers. For example, if you set your proxy settings to, Docker uses this proxy when pulling containers.


When you start a container, your proxy settings propagate into the containers. For example:

> docker run alpine env

no_proxy=*.local, 169.254/16

In the output above, the HTTP_PROXY, http_proxy, and no_proxy environment variables are set. When your proxy configuration changes, Docker restarts automatically to pick up the new settings. If you have containers that you wish to keep running across restarts, you should consider using restart policies.


You can configure the Docker daemon to hone how your containers run. Advanced mode lets you edit the JSON directly. Basic mode lets you configure the more common daemon options with interactive settings (and also JSON).

Docker Daemon

Experimental mode

Both Docker for Windows Stable and Edge releases have the experimental version of Docker Engine enabled, described in the Docker Experimental Features README on GitHub.

Experimental features are not appropriate for production environments or workloads. They are meant to be sandbox experiments for new ideas. Some experimental features may become incorporated into upcoming stable releases, but others may be modified or pulled from subsequent Edge releases, and never released on Stable.

On both Edge and Stable releases, you can toggle experimental mode on and off. If you toggle it off, Docker for Windows uses the current generally available release of Docker Engine.

Run docker version to see if you are in Experimental mode. Experimental mode is listed under Server data. If Experimental is true, then Docker is running in experimental mode, as shown here:

> docker version

 Version:       18.03.0-ce
 API version:   1.37
 Go version:    go1.9.4
 Git commit:    0520e24
 Built: Wed Mar 21 23:06:28 2018
 OS/Arch:       windows/amd64
 Experimental:  true
 Orchestrator:  swarm

  Version:      18.03.0-ce
  API version:  1.37 (minimum version 1.24)
  Go version:   go1.9.4
  Git commit:   0520e24
  Built:        Wed Mar 21 23:21:06 2018
  OS/Arch:      windows/amd64
  Experimental: true

Custom registries

You can set up your own registries on the Basic Daemon settings.

Normally, you store public or private images in Docker Hub and Docker Trusted Registry. Here, you can use Docker to set up your own insecure registry. Simply add URLs for insecure registries and registry mirrors on which to host your images.

See How do I add custom CA certificates? and How do I add client certificates? in the FAQs.

Daemon configuration file

The Advanced daemon settings provide the original option to directly edit the JSON configuration file for the daemon.

Updating these settings requires a reconfiguration and reboot of the Linux VM.

Docker Daemon

For a full list of options on the Docker daemon, see daemon, and also sub-topics:


Kubernetes on Docker for Windows is available in 18.02 Edge (win50) and higher edge channels only.

Enable Kubernetes

Docker for Windows 18.02 CE Edge and higher include a standalone Kubernetes server that runs on your Windows host, so that you can test deploying your Docker workloads on Kubernetes.

The Kubernetes client command, kubectl, is included and configured to connect to the local Kubernetes server. If you have kubectl already installed and pointing to some other environment, such as minikube or a GKE cluster, be sure to change context so that kubectl is pointing to docker-for-desktop:

> kubectl config get-contexts
> kubectl config use-context docker-for-desktop

If you installed kubectl by another method, and experience conflicts, remove it.

  • To enable Kubernetes support and install a standalone instance of Kubernetes running as a Docker container, select Enable Kubernetes and click the Apply and restart button.

    An internet connection is required. Images required to run the Kubernetes server are downloaded and instantiated as containers, and the

    Program Files\Docker\Docker\Resources\bin\kubectl.exe` command is installed.

  • By default, Kubernetes containers are hidden from commands like docker service ls, because managing them manually is not supported. To make them visible, select Show system containers (advanced) and click Apply and restart. Most users do not need this option.

  • To disable Kubernetes support at any time, deselect Enable Kubernetes. The Kubernetes containers are stopped and removed, and the /usr/local/bin/kubectl command is removed.

    For more about using the Kubernetes integration with Docker for Windows, see Deploy on Kubernetes.

Diagnose & feedback

Use this tab to troubleshoot problems and get help from Docker.


Log on to our Docker for Windows forum to get help from the community, review current user topics, or join a discussion.

Log on to Docker for Windows issues on GitHub to report bugs or problems and review community reported issues. See Logs and Troubleshooting for more details.

To give feedback on the documentation or update it yourself, use the Feedback options at the bottom of each docs page.


On the Reset tab, you can restart Docker or reset its configuration.


  • Restart Docker - Shuts down and restarts the Docker application.

  • Reset to factory defaults - Resets Docker to factory defaults. This is useful in cases where Docker stops working or becomes unresponsive.

Switch between Windows and Linux containers

From the Docker for Windows menu, you can toggle which daemon (Linux or Windows) the Docker CLI talks to. Select Switch to Windows containers to use Windows containers, or select Switch to Linux containers to use Linux containers (the default).

Windows-Linux container types switch

For more information on Windows containers, refer to this documentation:

Settings dialog changes with Windows containers

When you switch to Windows containers, the Settings dialog only shows those tabs that are active and apply to your Windows containers:

If you set proxies or daemon configuration in Windows containers mode, these apply only on Windows containers. If you switch back to Linux containers, proxies and daemon configurations return to what you had set for Linux containers. Your Windows container settings are retained and become available again when you switch back.

Adding TLS certificates

To your Docker daemon, you can add trusted Certificate Authorities (CAs), to verify registry server certificates, and client certificates, to authenticate to registries.

See How do I add custom CA certificates? and How do I add client certificates? in the FAQs.

Docker Store

Select Docker Store from the Docker for Windows menu to access the Docker store website. From there, you can log on to Docker Store and download apps.

Docker Store is a component of the next-generation Docker Hub and the best place to find compliant, trusted commercial and free software distributed as Docker Images.

Refer to the Docker Store documentation

Docker Cloud

Select Sign in /Create Docker ID from the Docker for Windows menu to access your Docker Cloud account. Once logged in, you can access your Docker Cloud repositories directly from the Docker for Windows menu.

See these Docker Cloud topics to learn more:

Where to go next

windows, edge, tutorial