Windows Cannot Open This File

Category: Quickies


I got a message from Ad-Aware saying that a program was trying to access my registry. I refused it entry; what a mistake that was! Now everytime I click on a program on my desktop or in My Programs I receive a pop-up menu stating: Windows cannot open this file.
I can't get to my virus scanner, registry checker, Zone Alarm... nothing! I can't do a System Restore, can't go to Internet Options, Add/Remove Programs, or My Computer. I've even tried Safe Mode but I keep getting the same error message. Help?


That's a stumper alright. Anyone have a fix?

If you think you know the answer, post your comments below.

This article was posted by on 27 Aug 2005

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Most recent comments on "Windows Cannot Open This File"

(See all 29 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

05 Oct 2007

i am printing this page of suggestions the program ad-aware did the same to me. my registry is not right. i cannot open files. i have access to internet ill try to fix problem again.

Posted by:

03 Dec 2007

hey Bodragon, u forgot an important step in your solution there.U forgot to tell them to change that "New" to "EXE" in #3 or your explanation,otherwise producing no results but a useless entry.

Posted by:

16 Feb 2008

Thanks to Bodragon and Wayne for helping me clear up my identical problem!

Posted by:

11 Mar 2008

PLEASE, SOMEONE...HELP ME! :-) Tonight I did an update to Office 2003 Service Pack 3. Since doing so, I have been experiencing what looks like the same problems as you all:

The icons on my desktop (or Start Menu program list) are not coorectly displayed - they're all that "generic" icon.

Trying to open any program or function only gets me this error message:

Windows cannot open this file.

File: Digital Line Detect (for example).lnk

To open this file, Windows needs to know what program created it.

And, yes, I do have Lavasoft's Ad-Aware program on my computer. Would really appreciate someone's help in getting this problem fixed. Thanks.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sounds like a job for System Restore.

Posted by:

28 Mar 2008

Oh my goodness. Thank you so much Bodragon and Wayne. I thought I had lost all of my applications, which included school notes and papers! But your directions fixed it all! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Posted by:

19 Apr 2008

Bodragon and Wayne this helped. Now I have to figure out how to change the defaults for open with.

Posted by:

30 Apr 2008

I'm still running Windows 98 on my pc at home. Recently, a "Registry Editor" box popped up, indicating an error (C\WINDOWS\ sp.dll.) For a few days, I was still able to open windows. Now, however, I am totally locked out. Nothing will open, and the pc freezes up when I try to get things started. Any way to fix this????

EDITOR'S NOTE: SP.DLL is adware which changes your browser's home page. Hopefully you can start in Safe Mode. If so, run a good spyware scanner and it should take care of it.

Posted by:

21 Aug 2008

Today, i messed up with my File Types in Folder Options and up in a problem.I deleted the Open Action from File Folder File Types and now every time i open any folder,it opens search page. I can't access my folders.Any solution?

EDITOR'S NOTE: DO a System Restore to yesterday, that will fix it.

Posted by:

07 Sep 2008

I've got the same problem as everyone else, were all my exe and lnk's dont work, but i cant access the tools > folder option and i did some lookin around, and alls i found out is that you need regedit to enable it, but since regedit doesnt work becuase of this error, i cant enable it, so that means that I?... please help :)

Posted by:

08 Sep 2008

You guys are freaking geniuses thanks very much wayne, and bodragon saved my ass.

Posted by:

emma evans
20 Nov 2008

ive got the same problem and error message ive done start up mode and restored my computer but that hasnt worked ever some one help please.x

Posted by:

18 Dec 2008

Hi everyone, I have exactly the same problem... most of my desktop icons have changed to a generic one, and I can't run anything at all. Either nothing happens (eg; clicking on "Add or Remove Programs" in the Control Panel), or I get the infamous "Windows cannot open this file:" panel quoting .lnk as the offending file!

I tried Bodragon and Wayne's solution but the new entry for "EXE" doesn't stay registered in the list of file types. I click on New, type EXE in the File Extension field, click Advanced and select Application as the Associated File Type, then click OK. The new entry appears at the top of the list, but when I close the window and reopen it, the new entry isn't there anymore!

Also I tried the exe.reg method but don't know how to create a file with that content that I can then "run". I tried creating a file using Notepad with the suggested content, renaming it to exe.reg, but it wouldn't run - just displayed the same "Windows cannot open this file:" panel!

Desperate! - Pleae help if you can!

Posted by:

18 Dec 2008

Actually I've just fixed the problem using a resolution I found at which is fantastic resource - my thanks to Doug Knox! There is some additional explanation from him which I needed at

Hope this helps others faced with this issue! :-)

Posted by:

10 Jul 2009

Andy, you will have to format your hard drive. You said you cannot get to "Add or Remove Programs". There is not really much anything you or I can do.

Posted by:

21 Jul 2009

iuse the windows xp2002 it is good but some files try the open he shiw the windows cannto open this file which software downloadplz send the my email adress.

Posted by:

Mike-aged51 in Bath Uk
08 Aug 2009

Seems I have just contracted the same problem. After about a week of trojan invasion and my computer telling me my firewall was off when the firewall told me it was on. I decided to download ErrorFix which turns out to be "Rougue Registry Problem fixing tool"(Quote from internet reports). After scanning, I started to get Trojan Threats every minute, I decided to researce Errorfix as I have downloaded An other Bogus Doctor befor. The reports reported errorfix to be fake and a threat to computer security. I ran AVG which identified Errorfix and the Trojans it had. I removed them. I had run AVG in an 18 hour slow scan only the day before so I knew all my security systems were reporting a clean machine. So it supported my belief that Errorfix was to blaim. Once error fix was gone-the security threats stops appearing. I had to restart the computer after which I was unable to access Programs, applications-broswers and antivirus applications as the computer kept reporting "Windows cannnot open this file". I tried restore but met the same "Windows cannot open tish file". I went into safemode only to find the same problem. (Which I do not understand-as how is it safe if it is affected by a Trojan?). So I was stuck. Can not Browse, Clean, run applications or programs or restore. So using another computer I researched the ppproblem and found this site. I still have the problem but I found a 1kb Google application in one of my files by opening the desk top unused files with internet explorer. (manually selected from the two options(I took pot luck)). I was suprised when my unused desk top items opened and luckily the google link opened, whilst my main Browsers remain disabled. Hence I am able to text this report. I do need help to beat this-or I mkay have to reinstall which I really do not want to do just yet. (Not untill I have tried a few other things. I also noticed what seemed to be a change to my file extensions. I had never noticed them before-but I suddenly noticed there seemed to be a lot of .Lnk extensions. A bit more research showed others were reporting similar and it became apparant to me that the Lnk extension may have occured as a result of the Errorfix Trojan. I believe errorfix may have fixed my registry (Good and proper (Ironey). It may have removed and replaced all my extensions rendering most applications and programs inoperative. At present I can not get in to my AVG to get the Trojans names but if I do I will possibley post them here. As I can now use Google again by an indirect method I can receive E.mail. I may revisit this site frequently-say about every hour or to from 00:32 on 8th August 09 to see if other comments have been made concerning the same problem. Any help to restore my extensions and re-enable my computers full funtional capacity would be much appreciated. Thank you. I hope this text may also help others who may be lost about what the problem is or how it happened, or what the symptoms are. Maybe also a solution will come forth.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I think a System Restore to the day before you installed ErrorFix might do a world of good.


Posted by:

Mike aged51 in Bath UK
08 Aug 2009

8th August 04:03AM
I have just spent the last two hours or so researching my problem on the web. It seems there is a lot of information out there about lnk problems. I have learnt how to open the CP with the task manager and I have been able to access regedit which I could not do before-due to the lnk (windows cannot open this file) problem. It seems the problem has been about for a couple of years at least. A number of sites even explained how to solve the problem by downloading a windows xp registry which I tried. But it did not solve my lnk problem because my computer could not/would not/ or did not show the extracted files. But many other people reported the appriciation, as the solution worked for them. (Some people have luck). I have a 9gig bank-up on an external drive so I ran the back up. It reported 99.9% successful and only one file was not restored due to corruption. I hoped this would solve the problem. But it did not. Its the first time I have ever run a back up so my expectations and hope were probably not realistic anyway. Now I wonder what on earth "back up" is supposed to be-because it does not seemed to have replaced the problems. If back up is supposed to restore the computer to a former time (In my case April 2009) then why is my computer still as it was yesterday 7 August '09? Maybe I have been missing something, as my external hard drive has been off line and dis-connected from my computer for a week. I keep a back up and copy of 98% of my files there away form my computer to keep them safe from such an event as has happen. But entering in I tried to load an application and immediatly noticed that the extension seemed to be .lnk. Was it like that before or had it changed since connecting the ex-HD? I do not know. Windows also reported it could not open it. SSo I am still stuck with my problem. I will be off line for some sleep soon-but I will keep checking in to this site. Thanks for publishing my previous text. Thanks for any help (in Advance)

Posted by:

Mike aged51 in Bath UK
08 Aug 2009

8th August '09
After reading some articles on-line about this problem I decided to check my computer for ad-ware. So I did a file search by clicking "Start" then search. I figured it may be that some pesky ad-ware product may have been in my computer. But the search reported no files containing the word ad-ware. So my problem is probably not ad-ware. But then I checked this site and saw it was ad-adare-so I checked again and found to files. I deleted both of them.

Posted by:

paul redfern
08 Oct 2009

i dumped adaware and it was still lurking out there. saw it on every NOD32 scan. finally found folders on it and deleted them all one at a time and now its finally totally gone. even revo uninstaller didnt dump all those buggas. i cant help but think that program sux. i live very nicely without adaware thank you. and running NOD32 now and i never have any probs with any of that stuff. in nearly 3 yrs not a single prob with any sort of bug here. great stuff NOD32.

Posted by:

Ken Kohler
05 Feb 2010

for w indows cannot open this file, try to download Malwarebytes, had your problem, downloaded Malwarebytes and got rid of the problem

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