When you attempt to open a file with an extension like .EXE, .COM, or .LNK on Windows XP, the file does not open, or the Open With dialog appears, even in Safe mode.

This behavior can occur if the registry values associated with the file name extension are missing or corrupted, or if your computer is infected with malware.

If your problem is with .LNK files, see tip 9201 » Your Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 Desktop and Start Menu shortcuts don't work?

The general resolution to these problems are:

1. Restart your computer in Safe mode.

2. If .EXE files won't run, Start | Run | command /c copy %SystemRoot%\regedit.exe %SystemRoot%\regedit.com | OK

3. Start | Run | REGEDIT | OK, using the appropriate REGEDIT.

4. Export HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\. from a working Windows XP computer.

5. Export HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.file from a working Windows XP computer.

6. Export HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\ from a working Windows XP computer, where is the data value returned by running
REG QUERY HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.\PersistentHandler /VE

7. Delete the above keys on the problem computer.

8. Import the .REG files.

9. Restart your computer.

Example:

If your .EXE extensions don't work, export:
<b>HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.exe
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\exefile
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\\{098f2470-bae0-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}</b>

Here is a .REG file that will restore all the .COM entries to appropriate values:

<font size="1">Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

\[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.COM\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.COM\]
@="comfile"
"CachedFilterIID"="\{c3278e90-bea7-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.COM\PersistentHandler\]
@="\{098f2470-bae0-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}"

\[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\COMFILE\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\COMFILE\]
@="MS-DOS Application"
"EditFlags"=hex:30,00,00,00

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\COMFILE\DefaultIcon\]
@=hex(2):25,00,53,00,79,00,73,00,74,00,65,00,6d,00,52,00,6f,00,6f,00,74,00,25,\
 00,5c,00,53,00,79,00,73,00,74,00,65,00,6d,00,33,00,32,00,5c,00,73,00,68,00,\
 65,00,6c,00,6c,00,33,00,32,00,2e,00,64,00,6c,00,6c,00,2c,00,32,00,00,00

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\COMFILE\shell\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\COMFILE\shell\open\]
"EditFlags"=hex:00,00,00,00

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\COMFILE\shell\open\command\]
@="\"%1\" %*"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\COMFILE\shellex\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\COMFILE\shellex\DropHandler\]
@="\{86C86720-42A0-1069-A2E8-08002B30309D\}"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\COMFILE\shellex\PropertySheetHandlers\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\COMFILE\shellex\PropertySheetHandlers\PifProps\]
@="\{86F19A00-42A0-1069-A2E9-08002B30309D\}"

\[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\\{098f2470-bae0-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\\{098f2470-bae0-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}\]
@="Null persistent handler"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\\{098f2470-bae0-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}\PersistentAddinsRegistered\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\\{098f2470-bae0-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}\PersistentAddinsRegistered\\{89BCB740-6119-101A-BCB7-00DD010655AF\}\]
@="\{c3278e90-bea7-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}"

</font>

Here is a .REG file that will restore all the .EXE entries to appropriate values:

<font size="1">Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

\[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.EXE\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.EXE\]
@="exefile"
"CachedFilterIID"="\{c3278e90-bea7-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}"
"Content Type"="application/x-msdownload"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.EXE\PersistentHandler\]
@="\{098f2470-bae0-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}"

\[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\]
@="Application"
"EditFlags"=hex:38,07,00,00
"TileInfo"="prop:FileDescription;Company;FileVersion"
"InfoTip"="prop:FileDescription;Company;FileVersion;Create;Size"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\DefaultIcon\]
@="%1"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\shell\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\shell\/?\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\shell\/?\command\]
@="CMD /K \"%1\" %* /?"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\shell\open\]
"EditFlags"=hex:00,00,00,00

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\shell\open\command\]
@="\"%1\" %*"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\shell\runas\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\shell\runas\command\]
@="\"%1\" %*"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\shellex\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\shellex\DropHandler\]
@="\{86C86720-42A0-1069-A2E8-08002B30309D\}"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\shellex\PropertySheetHandlers\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\shellex\PropertySheetHandlers\PifProps\]
@="\{86F19A00-42A0-1069-A2E9-08002B30309D\}"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\shellex\PropertySheetHandlers\ShimLayer Property Page\]
@="\{513D916F-2A8E-4F51-AEAB-0CBC76FB1AF8\}"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\EXEFILE\shellex\PropertySheetHandlers\\{B41DB860-8EE4-11D2-9906-E49FADC173CA\}\]
@=""

\[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\\{098f2470-bae0-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\\{098f2470-bae0-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}\]
@="Null persistent handler"

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\\{098f2470-bae0-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}\PersistentAddinsRegistered\]

\[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\\{098f2470-bae0-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}\PersistentAddinsRegistered\\{89BCB740-6119-101A-BCB7-00DD010655AF\}\]
@="\{c3278e90-bea7-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb\}"

</font>