3. Using a Microsoft Fix It
Microsoft has created a Fix It utility that automates the repairing of the EXE association problem, and although listed as for Vista only, it works fine in Windows 7 as well. Simply download the Microsoft Fix it 50194 file and run it following the prompts. This program gets around the EXE association problem by being an MSI installer file, so should work unless the MSI file type is corrupted as well. The tool will ask to reboot before changes take effect, but you will be able to tell if the fix has worked by trying to run an executable file.
4. Symantec Reset Shell Open Command Script
This next fix is from Symantec and takes another different approach to repairing executable associations. This is done using a Windows Setup Information file, or .INF file for short, which is commonly used to install system drivers. The handy thing about this is you can execute an INF file directly because when you right click on one, there is an option in the context menu to “Install” the file. This will fix the association in HKLM/Software/Classes for EXE, BAT, COM, PIF, REG and SCR files.
To use the INF file, simply download it using right click -> Save as (left clicking will open it as a text file in your browser), right click on the UnHookExec.inf and select Install from the context menu.
5. Fix the .EXE File Association From Command Prompt
This method is quite useful if you have problems not just with launching EXE executable files, but maybe others such as .BAT, .REG or .COM files cannot be executed either. In this case, importing files into the registry or running renamed files won’t work because the corruption has affected more than just executable files. The below commands also work in Windows XP. Firstly, launch the Command Prompt using the instructions above.
1. Type the following command and hit Enter.
That will fix the EXE extension. Now try to run an executable file, leave the Command Prompt open while you test it. If you still cannot run a program go to step 2 and repair the file type.
Here is a list of other common file extensions that you might need to restore to at least get the system back to a functioning state. It is recommended to restore just whatever you need and not everything at once.
2. If you still cannot run an executable file after fixing the file association, there may also be a problem with the file type association as well. The .EXE extension is associated to the exefile file type, but the exefile file type may itself be incorrect or corrupted so files will still not execute. Thankfully this is simply another line in the Command Prompt. Type the following exactly as shown and hit Enter:
ftype exefile="%1" %*
This tells Windows that when you double click the file, the file itself will be executed including any additional arguments. You can also do this and use the same command for batfile, cmdfile and comfile to change their filetypes to the default. Simply exchange the word exefile in the command line above for batfile, cmdfile or comfile, don’t change anything else.
After Fixing the EXE Association
Even though you may have repaired the EXE problem and can now run executable files again, there may still be some others which need fixing such as batch files, screensaver files, icon files etc. A little portable utility from The Windows Club is able to repair up to 26 file associations for Vista and 7, resetting them to the default action.
Simply launch the program and click on the the type of file you’re having trouble with. A reboot may be required depending on which one’s you restore.