Exe File is Not Opening: 6 Ways to Fix it [Force Launch]

Executable files are software launchers on Windows OS

by Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about technology ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. He's a PC enthusiast and he... read more
Reviewed by Vlad Turiceanu
Vlad Turiceanu
Vlad Turiceanu
Editor-in-Chief
Passionate about technology, Windows, and everything that has a power button, he spent most of his time developing new skills and learning more about the tech world. Coming... read more
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  • If the exe file is not opening on your PC, it might be down to a problem with the registry.
  • A quick way to fix this problem is to restore the registry value to default.
  • Another effective solution is to scan your PC for malware with Windows Defender or a dedicated tool.
exe files not working in Windows

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Computer problems are relatively common, and while some issues are relatively simple and easy to fix, some might be more problematic.

Windows 10 & 11 users reported that .exe files are not opening on their computers, so let’s see how to fix that strange problem.

Why is my exe file not opening?

If you can’t run an executable file in Windows, the most likely cause is that there is an incorrect file association. In other words, you have the .exe file that is associated with another program, or you no longer have the program to address it.

Of course, this problem can also occur if the system or Registry is corrupted. Some viruses or malware can also be the culprits.

With such causes in mind, here are some more examples of similar computer file issues:

  • WinRAR not working – WinRAR is stuck or not responding when you’re trying to unarchive a file.
  • WinRAR crashes – Reinstalling WinRAR will fix this problem quickly.
  • 7-Zip not working – Our guide will help you fix the Z-Zip issue.
  • 7-Zip crashes – It’s easy to fix this problem by reinstalling the software.
  • Setup.exe not running in Windows 10 – The solutions below will help you get rid of this problem in no time.
  • You’ll need a new app to open this .exe file in Windows 10 – Turning off your Windows Firewall will fix the issue.
  • .exe file not opening in Windows Server 2016 – This issue occurs if the registry is corrupt.
  • Python .exe file not opening – If you can’t open a Python .exe file, it is likely due to incorrect file association.

How do I force an exe file to open?

In this article

1. Edit the registry

1.1 Apply the change in normal mode

Not being able to open .exe files can be a big problem, but you should be able to fix it simply by changing your registry.

1. Press the Windows + R keys, type regedit, and click OK.

regedit exe file not opening

2. Go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT/.exe and double-click the (Default) key in the left pane.

exe-files-not-opening-windows-10

3. Set the Value data to exefile and click OK.

exe-files-not-opening-windows-10

4. Now, go to the path below in the left pane and double-click (Default) In the right pane: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\exefile\shell\open\command

default exe file not opening

5. Set its Value data to “%1” %* and click OK.

exe-files-not-opening-windows-10

6. After that, restart your computer and check if the problem is resolved.

For some unknown reason, the values in your registry can be changed from the default and that can prevent .exe files from opening.

1.2 Apply the change in Safe Mode

  1. Click the Start icon on the Taskbar.
  2. Hold the Shift key on your keyboard and click the Power icon, followed by the Restart option.
    power restart
  3. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings.
    startup exe file not opening
  4. Hit the Restart button.
    restart button
  5. When your computer restarts, a list of options will appear, select any version of Safe Mode by pressing the appropriate key.
    startup exe file not opening

Some of our readers reported that this solution only works if you apply it in Safe Mode, and to enter Safe Mode; you need to perform the steps above.

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After you boot the system in Safe mode, perform step 1.1 above.

2. Scan for malware

  1. Click the Start button, type virus, and click on Virus & threat protection from the results.
    virus and threat exe file not opening
  2. Select Scan options.
    scan options
  3. Choose your desired scan option and click the Scan now option.
    scan now exe file not opening

According to users, the exe file not opening issue can be due to malware issues. A simple virus scan should help you eliminate them and restore normalcy.

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3. Change the location of the Program Files folder to default

  1. Press the Windows +R keys to launch the Run console, type regedit, and click OK.
    regedit exe file not opening
  2. Go to the following key in the left pane and Double-click on ProgramFilesDir in the right pane: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersionprogramdir exe file not opening
  3. Change its Value data to C:\Program Files and click OK.
    program value
  4. If you have ProgramFilesDir (x86) entry available, change its Value data to C:\Program Files (x86).
    program 86 value
  5. After you’re done, close Registry Editor and restart your PC.

Program Files is a default installation directory for all third-party applications, and by default, it’s located on your System drive along with the Windows installation.

To save space, some users change the location of this folder. Unfortunately, this can sometimes cause problems and prevent .exe files from opening. Still, you should be able to fix this by changing the location of the Program Files folder in Registry Editor.

4. Turn off Windows Firewall

  1. Press Windows key + S and enter windows defender, and select Windows Defender Firewall from the list of results.
    windows defender
  2. In the menu on the left select Turn Windows Firewall on or off.
    turn off
  3. Select Turn off Windows Firewall (not recommended) for both Private network settings and Public network settings.
    ok
  4. Click OK to save changes.

Few users claim that they fixed this problem simply by disabling Windows Firewall. Therefore, check if the problem is resolved after turning the Windows Firewall off.

Note that disabling your firewall usually isn’t recommended because the firewall is designed to protect you from malicious applications that are trying to access the internet, but in some cases disabling the firewall can fix the problem with .exe files.

5. Create a new user account

  1. Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings app and select Accounts in the left pane.
  2. Choose the Family & other users option.
    accounts
  3. Click the Add account button in the Other users section.
    add account exe file not opening
  4. Select I don’t have this person’s sign-in information.
    i dont have
  5. Now, click on Add a user without a Microsoft account.
    add a new user
  6. Enter the username, password, and security questions, and click Next.
    next
  7. Finally, log in to the account and try to access the exe file from there.

According to users, you should be able to fix this problem simply by creating a new user account. After creating a new user account, switch to it and check if the issue is resolved.

If everything works without problems, you’ll have to copy all your files from your original account to the new one and continue using the new account.

6. Fix file association problem using Command Prompt

  1. Click the Start button, type cmd, and click Run as administrator under Command Prompt.
    cmd  exe file not opening
  2. Now, paste the following command and press Enter to run it: assoc .exe=exefileassociated file
  3. After that, restart your PC and see if the problem is fixed.

That’s it! We hope our solutions helped you fix the exe file without opening problem, and now you can run your .exe file without problems.

Not being able to open .exe files in Windows 11 can be a big problem and prevent you from running all applications normally, but as you can see, this problem can be easily solved.

Some of our readers reported that .exe files are self-deleting from Windows so read our guide if you want to fix this problem.

If you have any questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to write them in the comments below.

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