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Vista - .EXEs seem to have lost "Associations"

Discussion in 'Windows & Other Software' started by stockhausen, 15 Apr 2010.

  1. stockhausen


    Joined: 30 Jul 2006

    Posts: 11,977

    Running Vista on a laptop, if I click on any .EXE (e.g. MSWord) I get an error message box containing the following message:
    This file does not have a program associated with it for preforming this action.
    Create an association in the Set Associations control panel.
    Does anyone have any idea what might be causing this problem and how I might fix it?

    Thanks :)
  2. Sp00n


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 18,224

    Location: Brighton

    Sounds a bit suspect, exe's dont have associations as they are executables and should just run.

    Can you run it in safe mode?
  3. Broon


    Joined: 16 Oct 2005

    Posts: 360

    Location: Edinburgh

    Vista Fix

    Yes, the same problem appears to happen under Vista as well as prior versions of Windows. The method described here should work but you have to do a bit more work as there is presently no .REG file download FILExt has created. When sufficient numbers of people have tested this there will be a more formal writeup with a download.

    If the Vista EXE association is damaged the location in the registry most likely changed is in this key...


    The "OpenWithList" and "UserChoice" subkeys probably have some program listed as opening the .EXE file extension. These need to be cleared and, when cleared, the system will go back to the default and the EXE extension should then work again.

    You can do this by creating a .REG file with these lines in it...

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    Use cut/paste to copy these five lines to an editor like Notepad and then save the file with a .REG file extension. Copy the file to the misbehaving Vista machine and double click on it (or right click and select Merge). You will likely have to say OK to a number of different things (the user access control and the registry editor for certain) but afterward (and a restart to be certain) the system EXE association should come back.

    User Travis provided this link to REG file fixes for a number of extensions for Vista (only)...

    * Registry fixes for Vista file extensions (including the EXE fix)

    If you find a more elegant way to do this please let FILExt know so it can be added here. And, remember...


    Editing the System Registry can have seriously affect your system. Make no changes to the System Registry without having a complete backup of important files and only after setting a System Restore Point.

    Shameless ripped form http://filext.com/faq/broken_exe_association.php

    Out of interest how did this come about?
  4. tres


    Joined: 16 Oct 2007

    Posts: 7,153

    Location: UK

    It's a new virus - installs scareware, and removes exe associations.
    It's affecting XP, Vista & 7

    I've fixed 6 laptops and computers in 4 days with this!

    EXEs do need to be listed in the registry to run. No entry, no running
  5. andshrew


    Joined: 25 Oct 2002

    Posts: 2,513

    I'm pretty sure it doesn't need an entry for normal operation - but the .exe association can be overridden by the registry which is what causes the problems.

    (My XP machine has no .exe entry in the registry under FileExts, my 7 machine does but it contains no entries). I wouldn't be surprised if it's the fact that Vista and 7 now list .exe by default within FileExts that has given people the idea that they can easily adjust the .exe association to cause a nuisance.
  6. stockhausen


    Joined: 30 Jul 2006

    Posts: 11,977

    Thanks - sorted - I think

    I did some more detailed searching on Google and found this link - Brink's solution appears to work.

    As suggested, I now believe that this was in some way associated with some "scareware" :eek:

    Thanks to all :)
  7. Bane


    Joined: 10 Jun 2005

    Posts: 2,612