If a game or application you are running crashes it will likely show a popup window with the message “application.exe has stopped working. Windows can check online for a solution to the problem”. At this point the process is still present in the background and you can’t run another instance unless you physically click “Close the program” or choose to let Windows look for a solution online. Another possible message is a program has stopped responding popup which is similar but means the program has hung instead of crashed.
This is not ideal if you are running unattended automation scripts or hosting a game server such as Counter-Strike because the program or server software needs to be restarted automatically without user input. The problem is Windows will always show the dialog when a program crashes which means the computer cannot be left alone as what it’s doing will be halted until you return and click close.
The check online option of the error dialog is part of Windows Error Reporting that has been in Windows since XP. It’s function is to gather and send crash data to Microsoft and if they have a possible solution to the crash, it’s sent back to the user. If you disable Error Reporting, you will still get a similar error window but it won’t ask or try to check online. It will say “application.exe has stopped working. A problem caused the program to stop working correctly. Please close the program”.
There is a misconception that you can disable the program has stopped working popup through the Action center in Windows Control Panel. What it actually does is control the Windows Error Reporting options and lets you choose whether Windows checks automatically, asks the user or disables error reporting. The stopped working popup will still appear but with or without the check for solutions option, as shown above.
Turn off the Error Dialog through the Group Policy Editor
This method is obviously useful if you have the group policy editor available in your version of Windows because it doesn’t involve any manual registry editing. GPEdit is not available in Home or Basic versions of Windows.
1. Open the Group Policy Editor by typing gpedit.msc into the Start search box or the Run dialog.
2. Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Error Reporting. Double click on “Prevent display of the user interface for critical errors” in the pane on the right.
3. Click on the radio button Enabled and then press OK.
For Windows XP Professional the location in the Group Policy Editor is slightly different. Go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Error Reporting, and enable the option for Display error notification in the right pane.
Turn off the Error Dialog Via the Registry
Although editing the registry manually is not recommended for average users, sometimes there isn’t a choice because something like the Group policy Editor might not be available in your version of Windows or the group policy method itself doesn’t work. This works on Windows Vista and above.
1. Open the Registry Editor by typing regedit into the Start search box or the Win+R Run dialog.
2. Navigate to the following registry key:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Error Reporting
3. Double click the DontShowUI entry on the right and change its value to 1, then close the registry editor.
If you don’t feel comfortable editing your own registry or the DontShowUI value is for some reason missing, download the zip file below and run the ready made registry file inside, double click it to automatically import the correct data into your registry.
To reverse the setting and turn the error reporting UI back on use the WER_DontShowUI_Off.reg in the archive.
The above registry fix will turn off the popup dialog for the current user, if you want the setting to affect all users on the computer then a similar registry key needs to be created in the registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. This key isn’t present by default so needs to be created. The below registry file inside the zip will do that for you.
Disabling Windows Error Reporting
Although you might have disabled the program has stopped working dialog from appearing altogether, if Error Reporting is set to automatically check for solutions, Windows will still send data to watson.microsoft.com in the background. This may delay the restarting of any scripts you are running or software to automatically restart the program in the event of a crash. In this case it will be a good idea to turn Error Reporting off.
1. Go to Control Panel > Action Center > Change Action Center settings (top left) > Problem reporting settings.
2. Select “Never check for solutions” and click OK. Ask before checking also works because the dialog won’t appear to ask you.
The above is the safest way to turn Error Reporting off, but if you want, it can also be controlled from the registry and is a value called Disable found in the same registry key as DontShowUI. For ease of use, below we have provided some registry files in a zip that will both enable the DontShowUI value in the registry to turn off the dialog box, and also set Error Reporting to Disabled.