With The Sims recently celebrating its 21st anniversary, I have been in a nostalgic mood and re-discovering older Sims titles. And that has included going back to where it all started!

The Sims was released in 2000 and was compatible with Windows 95, 98 and ME machines. Even Windows XP wasn’t around when it launched. With hardware and software moving so far ahead since, it’s natural that the game now has some compatibility issues.

This guide should help you overcome common problems when installing the game and help you get The Sims 1 working as well as possible on newer computers running Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8 and even Windows 7.


An aerial view of The Sims 1 world

Step 1 – Installing The Sims 1 and Expansions Correctly

It is important that you install all of the packs that you own in the order that they were released – otherwise you will have to jump through all sorts of hoops to get the game working which will involve uninstalling and reinstalling things!

I know we are all looking for things to do during COVID times, but for the sake of your time and sanity, refer to the list below to see the order you should install your games. If you follow this, you will find that your installation process is fairly smooth and means you’ll get to play with all of the expansions.

As The Sims 1 was released so long ago, it isn’t available for download from official sources, so you’ll need to rely on all of your CDs! Now, if you do not have a DVD drive on your computer (which is highly likely since it’s 2021!) then you will need to purchase an external USB one. These are fairly inexpensive to purchase from somewhere like Amazon or a computer retailer.

If you are having problems getting the autorun/game launcher or setup to launch, scroll down to the troubleshooting section as these are common errors.

Install your games in the following order:

Sims 1 LogoThe Sims (or The Sims Double/Triple Deluxe, which includes Livin’ Large)
The Sims Livin’ Large / Livin’ It Up
The Sims House Party
The Sims Hot Date
The Sims Vacation/On Holiday
The Sims Unleashed
The Sims Superstar
The Sims Makin’ Magic

Step 2 – Installing Windows 10/8/7 Patch (Optional)

This step is completely optional and we are not responsible for monitoring content on third-party websites or downloads. We will not be held responsible for corrupted or inoperable gameplay caused by the installation, use, or modification.

A Simmer by the name of SariaFan93 in the community has created a very helpful Windows 10/8/7 patch which will help you get the game working on newer machines and allows you to play without the disc present.

Please note this patch will only work with all expansions installed, or The Sims Complete Collection, and must be installed from the physical discs.

  • Go to the directory where you have installed The Sims (this is typically C:\Program Files (x86)\Maxis\The Sims)
  • Find Sims.exe and rename this to Sims.old – do not delete this
  • Download the new Sims.exe file from SariaFan93 by clicking here
  • Move the new Sims.exe file you have downloaded to the directory where you have installed The Sims (this is typically C:\Program Files (x86)\Maxis\The Sims)
  • Right click on Sims.exe and add a shortcut to your desktop for easy access to launch the game

The old executable alongside the new Sims exe

In the unlikely event you encounter any problems, you can delete the new Sims.exe file from your Sims installation directory, and rename Sims.old file back to Sims.exe if needed.

Step 3 – Configuring Compatibility Settings

Before you launch the game, it is important that you configure the appropriate compatbility settings for The Sims 1 to ensure the game runs as well as possible!

  • Go to the directory where you have installed The Sims (this is typically C:\Program Files (x86)\Maxis\The Sims)
  • Right click on Sims.exe and click on properties
  • Click on the “Compatibility” tab at the top
  • Tick the box beside “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” and select “Windows 7”
  • Tick the box beside “Run as administrator”
  • If you haven’t done this already, right click on Sims.exe and add a shortcut to your desktop for easy access to launch the game

Sims 1 Compatibility Settings

Step 4 – Set Screen Resolution and Play in Windowed Mode

The Sims will open in full screen and at 800×600 resolution by default. Follow the instructions below to set it to run at 1024×768 and to open in windowed mode, if you wish.

  • Right click the shortcut to Sims.exe on your desktop
  • In the “Shortcut” tab, add the following to the end of the Target text field: -w -r1024x768
    • -w makes the game start in Windowed Mode – do not add this if you want to play in full screen
    • -r1024x768 makes the game open in a resolution of 1024×768, the maximum supported resolution for The Sims 1
  • Press OK to save the changes

Congratulations! You should now be able to launch and play The Sims 1 on Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7 machines. All you have to do now is click on the shortcut on your desktop to get started!

You may still experience some issues such as performance or crashes, due to the age of the game, but these steps should give you the best chance of having a good experience.

Remember to always save regularly in the event the game were to crash, and to enjoy re-discovering the game that started it all!

The Sims Makin Magic Loading Screen

Troubleshooting – Resolving common errors

Before you can even get the game to install and play the game, you may hit some errors. These steps should help you troubleshoot some of the common errors faced.

Getting the Autorun/Game Launcher to Work

You only need to follow this step if you are experiencing problems with The Sims game launcher, which traditionally opens automatically every time you insert a disc to help you get the game installed or launch it.

On some newer devices, this can cause a problem where nothing happens or you get an error message from windows saying something needs to close. If you are unable to get the launcher working, try the following steps.

  • Insert The Sims disc and go into This PC/My Computer
  • Right click on the DVD Drive and click open
    Sims 1 DVD Drive
  • Right click on start.exe and go to properties
  • Under the Compatibility tab, tick the box beside “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” and select “Windows XP (Service Pack 3)”
  • Press OK to save your settings
    Windows compatibility
  • Try relaunching The Sims 1 game launcher – you may find the Windows User Account Control will pop up asking for permission to open the file.
    Sims 1 game launcher

Manually Launching Setup/Setup is Not Starting

If you are trying to launch the setup to install the game and nothing is happening, or the autorun/game launcher is still not working, then the following section will help you.

  • Go to This PC/My Computer
  • Right click on the DVD Drive and click open
    Sims 1 DVD Drive
  • Double click on the Setup folder
  • Right click on Setup.exe and Run as administrator
  • The Setup should now open and allow you to install the game – repeat this for every expansion you install

Sims 1 Setup Fix

InstallShield iKernel.exe Error

If you get the InstallSheild iKernel.exe error when you try to start installation of a Sims expansion, it’s a quick and easy fix.

  • Go to C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files
  • Delete the InstallShield folder
    • If it can’t be deleted because something is using it, restart your computer and repeat the above steps
  • Try installing the expansion again – it should now work

Performance Issues/Crashes When Playing

If you are experiencing bad or varying levels of performance when playing The Sims, or perhaps it stops responding when you are playing, try the following tips:

Play in windowed mode – Whilst playing in full screen may be a more immersive experience, particularly as resolutions on newer devices are much larger than 1024×768, it can lead to lower frame rates and the game to run slower. By playing in windowed mode, this mostly seems to resolve itself and you should experience better performance.

Avoid clicking out of the game when loading – When you first launch The Sims, the game will go through quite a few screens to setup things like other neighbourhoods, magic, pets, etc. Whilst it’s tempting to leave this running in the background to complete, if you are playing in windowed mode, it may freeze and stop responding!

To stop this, avoid clicking out of the game when it is loading and make sure you keep The Sims open. This should prevent the game from crashing on most occasions. And, as always, SAVE REGULARLY!!

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I need to try this. I miss playing Sims 1 so much even though I have 2, 3, and 4