This is Not the .exe You Are Looking For: 3 Fixes to Use

Find out what worked for other who reported the error

by Loredana Harsana
Loredana Harsana
Loredana Harsana
Managing Editor
Loredana is a passionate writer with a keen interest in PC software and technology. She started off writing about mobile phones back when Samsung Galaxy S II was... read more
Reviewed by Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Windows Server & Networking Expert
After moving away from the corporate work-style, Alex has found rewards in a lifestyle of constant analysis, team coordination and pestering his colleagues. Holding an MCSA Windows Server... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • Civilization V, as well as other older games, sometimes throw the This is not the .exe you are looking for error.
  • It indicates that there is no longer a direct connection between the game's launcher (.exe) and its files.
  • To fix things, disable any third-party antivirus or reinstall the missing DLLs, amongst other solutions. 
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This is not the .exe you are looking for is one of the more annoying errors out there. That, in part, is because it is not directly apparent what it means and provides no insights into the underlying cause.

Errors opening apps are common, but this one is especially tricky to troubleshoot. The This is not the exe you are looking for error is usually encountered with Civilization 5 and Bioshock Infinite, amongst other games and apps. So, let’s find out how you can fix things.

What exactly does This is not the .exe you are looking for mean?

The This is not the .exe you are looking for error falls under the category of a dummy file. A dummy file is an application mimicking a real one but with no real output, and as a result, you can’t launch the app.

Here are a few reasons you might be getting the error:

  • Missing DLL files – In most cases, it was a missing DLL file that triggered the error. If you are facing this issue with Steam games, make sure the steam_api.dll file is available.
  • Corrupt system files or user profile – If the system files are corrupt or there are issues with the user profile, you are likely to encounter this and a range of other issues in Windows.
  • Issues with the game installation – There’s also a chance that the game wasn’t properly installed, leading to the error.

How can I fix This is not the exe you are looking for error?

Before heading to the slightly intricate solutions, we recommend you try these first:

  • Restart the computer and check whether the This is not the .exe you are looking for error is fixed.
  • Disable the built-in antivirus and verify if things improve. In case the .exe file now starts working, uninstall the program, and switch to a more reliable antivirus that doesn’t conflict with the OS and installed apps.

If these don’t work, the ones listed next surely would.

1. Try running the game from the installation folder

This is not the .exe you are looking for may signal problems with the shortcut provided for the application. It could be a missing system link between the shortcut and the game’s system files.

So, head to the installation folder, locate the game launcher file (.exe), and double-click on it. If it works, delete the other shortcut you used earlier, and create a new one for the application.

Creating a desktop shortcut for Steam

In case things still don’t work, head to the next solution.

2. Reinstall the affected app

  1. Press Windows + R to open Run, type appwiz.cpl in the text field, and hit Enter.appwiz.cpl
  2. Now, locate the problematic app, select it, and click on Uninstall.uninstall to fix this is not the exe you are looking for
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the uninstall process.

In case it was a missing DLL file or other issues with the app installation that triggered the This is not the .exe file you are looking for error, reinstalling it should do the trick.

3. Perform a system restore

  1. Press Windows + R to open the Run command, type rstrui, and click OK.rstrui to fix this is not the exe you are looking for
  2. Select Choose a different restore point, and click on Next to proceed.choose a different restore point
  3. Now, select a restore point created before the error was first encountered, and click Next.next
  4. Click on Finish to start the restore process.start restore to fix this is not the exe you are looking for

That’s it! If nothing so far has worked, a system restore should get things up and running. And you wouldn’t lose any files, though installed apps or configured settings might be lost.

That wraps it up for us! By now, you would have the This is not the .exe file you are looking for error fixed. In case it persists, reinstalling Windows is the only possible fix.

Also, find out how to optimize Windows 11 for gaming and get the best performance.

As always, if you found other methods to solve this issue, or if you think we missed something, feel free to let us know in the comments below!

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