Fix broken EXE file association in Windows 10 / 8 / 7

You might encounter situation where you may not able to open any .exe files or shortcut link files i.e. EXE or LNK files. You might instead get a “Open with” dialog box or it may open the file in another program. This happens if the file association of these file extensions may have got corrupted.

broken EXE file association

EXE files will not open or not working

A corrupted Registry, caused either by a bad software or malware or any other reason, can lead to your Windows being unable to open a particular file type.

When file associations for executable, batch or COM files are changed it could cause your executables to not start. For example, when you try to click open an .exe file the programs will not start, or the Open with box might appear, or Windows will say that it cannot open this file and ask what you would like to use to open the program, or it may start a different program.

Fix broken EXE file association

1] To rectify the situation, I suggest you download and apply the following registry fixes.

  • For fixing the .exe file extension download this EXE Fix.
  • For fixing the .lnk file extension download this LNK Fix.

Right on the File and Click on Merge.

You will get a warning, asking Are you sure you want to continue.

Click Yes and reboot the system.

2] FixExec is designed to resolve these issues by rebuilding the executable file association’s Windows Registry keys that may have become damaged or corrupted. If the tool detects any of these associations are missing, corrupted, changed or hijacked, the settings will be set back to Windows defaults. FixExec tool will fix the .exe, .bat and .com file associations in Windows. It will also terminate any malicious processes found in typical areas. You can download it from

3] Microsoft has also released a Fix It to fix EXE file association problems. See if it applies to your version of Windows.

If the icons do not show up correctly then you might need to rebuild the Icon cache.

Generally speaking, in other situations, you can use our freeware File Association Fixer for Windows 8, Windows 7 & Windows Vista will let you repair and fix file associations and extensions in a single click. The app offers 18 file association fixes for Windows 7 / 8 & 26 file association fixes for Windows Vista.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse aka HappyAndyK is an end-user Windows enthusiast, a Microsoft MVP in Windows, since 2006, and the Admin of Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.
  • Nitin Chauhan

    It can be done easily using a simple utility “unassoc.exe”
    Download link:

  • ShyamS@TWC

    Thanks for the suggestion Nitin about that tool has EXE extension, so it will not open until we run the reg file.

  • techibee

    I never seen a case where exe/lnk files are failed to open. The only possible case for the failures is either exe is corrupted or lnk has wrong path. You can not do “open with” operation on exe files. Am I missing anything here?

  • ShyamS@TWC

    Thanks for the comment Techibee. Lot of cases somehow people open EXE with some other application like Notepad and we can’t revert it back. Such cases we could use this Method. I personally help lot of people with the same issue so though of making it as an article. Just Google it you’ll find of the threads about it.

    Hope this answers.

  • techibee

    After posting the comment, I have seen few forum threads talking about this. I am curious, how the OS related exe are able to execute when the default program for exe is files is changed. All the installed programs also should fail as the exe assoc is set to notepad that means system should go complete useless.

  • ShyamS@TWC

    I haven’t tested it myself mate … But I understand your point that’s why broken EXE extension could be a pain.

  • Aminlove 87
  • Trishul Shukla

    whenever i open the file or application is windows 7 ultimate the error comes adobe reader cannot read this file dnt knw wat to do but this errors comes in all the application and all the icon on the desktop comesas adobe reader pls help me

  • Trishul Shukla

    whenever i open the file or application is windows 7 ultimate the error comes adobe reader cannot read this file dnt knw wat to do but this errors comes in all the application and all the icon on the desktop comesas adobe reader pls help me

  • William

    how can i run it?its just a word pad

  • Tirroccia

    how do i use the exe fix

  • elielCT

    yea, ur missing ALOT!!

    this is common with certain malware.. little trick to prevent the user from running AV instal, notepad scipts, command line, registry!

  • ashish

    when i click yes to continue merging it shows “cannot import c:userelcotdesktopLNK fix_twc.reg.not all data was successfully written to registry. some keys are open by the system or other processes. pls tell me suggestion asap

  • Osho_taylor

    i cant merge it because i cant open an .EXE file

  • amila

    awesome !!

  • HockNGuan

    same here !!@@
    please someone help meeeeeE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!~~
    really sad nobody hlp me

  • Yacine Rekik

    WTF Dude !!! it worked in Win 10 😀 Thank u !!

  • sam

    windows 10 exe corrupt?!

  • Juan Morin

    same thing happened to me on windows 10. I had to open regedit and import the registry with the file

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