Apps Don’t Open Unless Run as Administrator

You may notice that some programs don’t run when you double-click on the icon of the program. However, they run if you right-click on the icon and then click “Run as Administrator”; whereas the same programs used to run just fine even without elevation.

Also, going to the “Compatibility” tab in the Properties and selecting or deselecting “Run as administrator” may not make any difference.


A third-party tuning program installed on the computer may have blocked the apps from running unelevated. CCleaner Professional, AVG TuneUp, and Avast Cleanup Premium are some examples. These programs have a feature that puts resource-hungry apps into sleep or snooze mode.

avast avg debugger cannot open office apps

In CCleaner Professional, the feature is called “Performance Optimizer.”

These programs add a “Debugger” registry value in the “Image File Execution Options” key to redirect the executable to the tweaker program — e.g., CCleanerReactivator.exe, the CCleaner Professional Performance Optimizer module.

ccleaner professional debugger registry value

This prevents some applications from starting normally (i.e., unelevated), especially some 32-bit apps.


Option 1: Remove Programs from Sleep Mode

Removing the affected programs from out of “Sleep” mode into “Wake Up” mode or equivalent setting in your optimizer program should resolve the issue.

CCleaner Professional

  1. Open CCleaner Professional.
  2. Click Performance Optimizer.
  3. Click “Sleeping Programs.”
  4. Click on the “Wake Up” button next to the program you want to get out of sleep mode.
    ccleaner professional - sleep and wake up mode for programs

AVG TuneUp or Avast Cleanup Premium

  • Open AVG TuneUp or Avast Cleanup, click on the Speed up icon.
  • Open Background & Startup programs.
  • Scroll down and find the section with a green font that says # programs sleeping and expand it.
    avast avg debugger cannot open office apps
  • Find your program on the list and click “wake“.
  • Repeat the same for every other program you want to unblock.

Option 2: Remove the Debugger registry value manually

If you have already uninstalled AVG Tune Up, Avast Cleanup, or CCleaner Professional, then follow these steps to remove the orphaned Debugger registry value for each program that was put into sleep mode.

  1. Start the Registry Editor (regedit.exe)
  2. Go to the following branch:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options
  3. Expand the Image File Execution Options key.
  4. For example, to unblock Microsoft Word, select the subkey named winword.exe
  5. Right-click winword.exe and choose Delete.
  6. Click Yes to confirm. That’s it. Microsoft Word is unblocked now.
  7. Similarly, delete the Debugger registry value for every executable that was put into sleep mode. Here are some more subkeys that you may need to check:
    • excel.exe [Microsoft Excel]
    • powerpnt.exe [Microsoft PowerPoint]
    • msaccess.exe [Microsoft Access]
    • mspub.exe [Microsoft Publisher]
    • onenote.exe [Microsoft OneNote]
    • outlook.exe [Microsoft Outlook]
    • AcroRd32.exe [Adobe Acrobat Reader]
    • Chrome.exe [Google Chrome]
    • Firefox.exe [Mozilla Firefox]
    • Iexplore.exe [Internet Explorer]

    Quick Tip: With the Image File Execution Options branch selected, you can do a search for CCleanerReactivator.exe or autoreactivator.exe in the Registry Editor to find and manually remove every occurrence of the debugger value.

    avast avg debugger cannot open office apps

  8. Exit the Registry Editor.

tips bulb iconThe debugger registry value is used to redirect a program to another program. For instance, Microsoft Sysinternals Process Monitor replaces Task Manager in the same way. We used the debugger technique to replace Notepad with Notepad++ in one of our previous articles.

I hope that resolves the issue. Let’s know your comments.

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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded in 2005.

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