How to Restore EXE File Association in Windows

The usual problem people report after getting rid of malware is that nothing happens when they start to run a program. Often Windows shows a dialog reporting that no program is associated with it for performing this action. The dialog box may look like as shown in the picture below :

Restore EXE File Association

One of the reasons why this problem arises is that the malware has messed with EXE file associations in the Windows registry. You can edit Windows’ registry to restore these file associations. But the question is that if you cannot run a program, how would you run the Registry Editor and edit your Windows’ registry. Here is the step-by-step instructions for restoring file associations :

1. Automatically Using Our Tool

You can download our EXE file association restoration tool from here : Save this file on your desktop and double-click on it to run it. You would see a command window flash up for a second. Then you can log off and log back on for the changes to take effect. If this file does not run, then you can download restore_exe_association.scr.

2. Manually Fixing the EXE Association

  1. Open Task Manager using the keyboard combination Ctrl + Shift + Esc. You can also right-click on the taskbar and choose Start Task Manager to start the Task Manager.

    Restore EXE File Association

  2. Hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard and then in the Task Manager, select File → New Task(Run). Type cmd in the task command and press Enter. This would open a command prompt.

    Restore EXE File Association

  3. In the command prompt type notepad and press Enter to start Notepad.

    Restore EXE File Association

  4. In the Notepad, copy-paste the following :
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
  5. Save the file as %USERPROFILE%\EXE.REG. To do this, select from the File → Save as. Then select All Files in the Save as type list, and then type %USERPROFILE%\EXE.REG in the file name box. Select Unicode in the encoding list.

    Restore EXE File Association

  6. Return to the command prompt window, type the following and press Enter.

    Restore EXE File Association

  7. Log off and then log on for the changes to take effect.


  1. OMG … THANK YOU. I was changing my icons, changed the .exe one and then ALL .exe files (i.e., PROGRAMS(!)) had the same icon. Haha. All better now. <3

  2. well………. regedit.exe doesnt know how to open… . .com tried to open in my web browser. and .scr file tries to open with the screensaver.

    back to the chicken board

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