Help: I Can’t Open .EXE Files! 4

Actually, this is the exact query that I got:

In my system all exe files are being opened with notepad!!!

Thats more or less what I got in a conversation a few minutes ago. Now, this particular question isn’t particularly new, and it can be caused by an overzealous tinkerer or a malicious code (if you haven’t done anything, truthfully, and this happened to you, please check it out with an antivirus).

The problem, if you want to understand is that Windows is designed so that every file is expected to have an extension. That 3 letter ending tells the Windows OS with which program to open the file with. So if you have .txt file, you should open it with Notepad.exe.

Now what about a .exe file? Who opens that? The answer is simple: Itself! Hence you have to tell the OS (through the Registry Editor), to open the .exe file with itself. Hence “%1” %* as the open with command, which indicates that the file needs to be opened with the same .exe (%1), and having the same arguments (%*) that it was assigned.

Anyway, in order to fix this, please follow the following instructions..

  • Open up Regedit
Run Regedit

Run Regedit



  • Go into HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\exefile\shell\open\command
Go into HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\exefile\shell\open\command

Go into HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\\exefile\\shell\\open\\command

  • Now, there should be only one String entry. Double click on that, and type in “%1” %*
Edit string and put _"%1" %*_

Edit string and put “%1” %*

Anyways, hope that helped out. Comment if you need some more digging out :)

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4 thoughts on “Help: I Can’t Open .EXE Files!

  1. Reply Ananth Dec 1,2009 7:25 am

    thank you vishal, it really worked

  2. Reply Ashley Mar 31,2010 1:09 am

    When I open regedit, its that thing that comes up that says: "Choose the program you want to open this file:" and then it will give a list on what to open it with…

    • Reply Vishal Kumar May 10,2010 2:07 pm

      Hey, what do you mean? Regedit itself isn't opening?

      Try this: rightclick and create a new text file, and save it as new.reg. Then paste and save the following text (between the lines):

      Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

      @="\\"%1\\" %*"
      "IsolatedCommand"="\\"%1\\" %*"


      The system should recognize it as a registry backup file. Double click on the file, and allow it to run (security permissions might be asked).

      If you can't open notepad, try going to run (Windowskey+R), and typing "edit" and enter, and use that instead.

  3. Reply Daeyoung Oct 20,2012 3:39 am

    I followed everything you did but it still didn’t work ;__; In my case, everything opens in Adobe Reader. However when I look at the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\exefile\shell\open\command and pressed default, it was already at “%1 “%* I don’t know what else to do and I can’t uninstall Adobe Reader because I need it.

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