Here's something fun. Up until version 7, Windows shipped a dll file cards.dll that contained images of playing cards. This dll was used by card games such as Solitaire, Hearts and FreeCell.

Exploring cards.dll with a resource explorer is fun. It contains all 52 playing cards, back faces and animations.

c:\windows\system32\cards.dll contains playing card bitmap images

You can download cards.dll and explore it yourself or you can download all bitmaps. I extracted them and put in a zip file.

Yesterday someone emailed me and asked if I knew know to run Solitaire from XP on Windows 8. He said he found sol.exe but it complained about cards.dll missing, and he didn't know where to get it. So I sent him cards.dll and decided to write this short blog post.

Until next time!


January 19, 2015, 12:14

Why? Why would they put images into a .dll?

January 19, 2015, 13:56

The DLL also exports 4 functions to draw the images on the screen and run animations. It's a common practice to add resources to a dll. A dll is nothing more than a program so packing images in it and distributing it as a single file was a good idea.

January 26, 2015, 16:49

I had some email correspondence with Wes Cherry the original author of the version of Solitaire on Windows from 95 till XP.

February 01, 2015, 17:45

That is awesome!

Prachi Permalink
January 27, 2015, 03:06

hello every one anybody knows where is the cards file in windows 7? thanks in advance

Prachi ki Chachi Permalink
January 28, 2015, 02:42

Its on your hard disk. Look under C:\

January 28, 2015, 05:50

I thought you can only pack resources on EXEs

Petter Permalink
February 01, 2015, 18:23

The cards.dll no longer ships with Win 7. This has now been replaced by CardGames.dll which I would guess works in a totally different way. You will have to search and download the card.dll file. It took me three attempts to find the correct one.

mark Permalink
March 02, 2015, 18:24

I don't have cards.dll in my windows 8 where i can find it?

Pete Permalink
April 16, 2015, 16:04

I remember when I found the weezer video in windows 95. My system was a bit to slow to play it tho.

temp Permalink
November 09, 2015, 00:34

Where to save cards.dll? System32? Windows?

Wise Old Man Permalink
February 04, 2016, 19:11

A long time ago I was working on a remote site and had to ride back and forth in a van that was always driven by the same person. At the end of the day, when we were ready to go, he would sit down and play a couple of games of Spades or Solitaire while we all waited impatiently. We got tired of this, so one day I edited the cards.dll file on his PC and swapped the king and queen of spades. When he tried to play Solitaire, he couldn’t play the king on an empty pile, because the software thought it was the queen. In Spades, he’d get stuck with the king and wonder why he got 13 points. He got totally flustered and quit playing all together, so we got to leave on time.

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