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Unable to Start a Program with an .exe File Extension

Published: June 27, 2004
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When you try to launch an application (.exe files), the following error message appears and the program does not run.



This problem occurs if the .exe file association in the registry is corrupt. This behavior is generally caused by viruses; one of which is SirCam virus, which modifies the .exe file association in registry.


Method 1: Fixing the association settings automatically

Download utility and save to Desktop. Double-click the file to run it. This utility fixes the exefile association in the registry automatically.

Additional tip:  To run the utility silently (without any prompts), use the -silent parameter. Open a Command window ( and type:

C:\Utilities\ -silent

Assuming that the is placed in the C:\Utilities directory.

Method 2: Fixing the association settings using Registry editor

  • Click Start, Run and type Command
  • Type the following commands one by one:


  • If Registry Editor opens successfully, then navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ exefile \ shell \ open \ command

  • Double-click the (Default) value in the right pane
  • Delete the current value data, and then type:

"%1" %*
(ie., quote-percent-one-quote-space-percent-asterisk.)

  • Navigate to:


  • In the right-pane, set (default) to exefile
  • Exit the Registry Editor.

If you're unable to launch Regedit.exe even from Command Prompt, try this:

copy regedit.exe

Related articles

  1. You receive an error message when you try to start a program that has an .exe file name extension
  2. You Are Unable to Start a Program with an .exe File Extension
  3. You Cannot Start Programs (.exe Files) When Your Computer Is Infected with the SirCam Virus
  4. Restore the .exe file association in Windows Vista, after incorrectly associating it with another application