Run Applications In Compatibility Mode In Vista

If you upgrade to Windows Vista, one of the things you may discover is that not all of your older programs will work under Vista. Many software vendors are working to release Vista-compatible versions but in the mean time, you can try running the applications in Compatibility Mode.

To do so:

  1. Open Windows Explorer.
  2. Location the application executable.
  3. Right click the executable and click the Properties option.
  4. Select the Compatibility tab.
  5. Select the Run This Program in Compatibility Mode option.
  6. From the drop-down list, choose the operating system you ran before upgrading to Vista.
  7. If necessary, select the option to run the program as an administration.
  8. Click OK.

[tags]Vista, Windows, Microsoft[/tags]

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  • Dean Bryant

    I’m using ACT 4.0 (never had a reason to upgrade) and can’t get it to run in Vista. Compatibility Mode didn’t help.

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  • Larry

    I have tried compatibility mode for an accounting package that runs from Linux through RMCOBOL 7. When run as administrator it almost works, but believe that the environmental settings for the regular user is different in administration mode? This is a tough one to solve for our tech support guy with the accounting software is not familiar with Vista. I might look at using VMware for this one application. The user wanted the lastest and greatest!

  • michael

    I’ve been running windows vista for about 5 months. The only thing good about it is the fancy window switching, and it works well when browsing the internet. Windows mail is a mess; it does not delete messages… I compose music using a variety of software programs, and have had no success with any of them at all; compatability mode included. I wish I could just revert to windows xp… maybe I’ll do that? What a mess

  • michael

    I think I’ll go apple next time

  • pam..

    the compatiblity doesn’t work! hahahahahaha!

    and i don’t want to downgrade my OS. help?

  • Mitch

    “Location the application executable.”? that doesn’t make any sense. And why would you open Window’s explorer to change the computer’s settings? Help please!!!

  • Sleprox

    It makes perfect sense.

    The only way to set compatibility mode is to click on file you intend to modify;

    And how would you do that?

    I would guess, open Windows Explorer, and browse to the C:\Program Files subdirectory listed under Computer;

    Find your incompatible subject file; for example, we will say Internet Explorer isn’t compatible with Vista(Haha, just follow me, it’s an example);

    You would go to C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer;

    Right click on IEXPLORER.EXE (You may have to turn on File Extensions under Folder Options to see the exe files)

    Select Properties–>Compatibility–>Check the first box under Compatibilty Mode, Select the OS you want to emulate, then check mark the box under Privilege Level, click OK.

    Now, you won’t be able to to check these boxes in this example, since MS is certain that it is compatible with Vista and it is Greyed out.

    Simple really, the worst part is finding out that it doesn’t solve your problem, then you have to seek help from the Publisher of the Software, and hope they have an update.

  • kerry

    I am about to make that enormous leap of leaving my old computer behind and buying a new one with Vista OS and I am ABSOLUTELY terrified! ANy advice out there? I don’t WANT to do this but my old computer has become a Frankenstein experiment and moves at about the pace of a turtle. Put it this way- my computer is so old I only have a 40gb hard drive and 256k of ram. Nearly all my internal drives have ceased to work and I have enough external equipment plugged in that when the lights are out in my office it looks like Times Square at night. I feel like I should be moving forward, but am fairly convinced that practically all the software I have will not run on vista. ANd from reading these posts, it sounds like the compatability modes offered in Vista will be of absolutely no use to me. Should I just buy an upgraded computer and have them install xp or is taht crazy and still staying in the dark ages? what to do? HELP!!! I really could use some advice.
    :) Kerry

  • VonLewis

    I needed Autocad for school
    Just got a Pc for it, new with Vista
    The damn popup already annoy me!!!
    But now the program i need can run on Vista! what a f…… waste!
    Switching to Xp if i can find an answer soon, the time i need to get Xp.

  • Vanderloo

    The option for running under another OS environment seems to me to little effect. In fat, whe I tried to run a game in XP moxe, after it refused to run under Vista, it just kept rebooting the computer.

    The publishers gave me a list of steps to try, but none have helped. I get bored of encountering problems in Vista and the fact that it looks pretty is not a consolation.

  • Ralph Sporlock

    What a hunk of Junk. Good luck getting this method to work with anything. I tried it on a couple of games and it actually refused to even startup this way. In Vista mode it just craps out to the desktop after the title screens. This is a pointless feature that doesn’t work….Much like the rest of Vista. I’ll be downgrading soon.

  • Robert W. Jones

    Ralph Sporlock said…
    “I tried it on a couple of games and it actually refused to even startup this way. In Vista mode it just craps out to the desktop after the title screens.”

    Just a thought… I encountered this behavior a few times w/games in XP and found the fix was to enable the game in Windows Firewall under “exceptions.” That is if your trying to play ONLINE games.

    Good luck.

  • xenon

    I tried for several games…favorite titles for me: Heroes 3 (different additions), Lords of realms…a lot of titles that were in 2000-2003…
    None of them works in compatibility mode….

    also tried Ace self extract files I created earlier…I canot f…open them…. An exe file to self extract and the f… Vista is unable to launch the application no matter what compatibility mode I select…

    Is unbelievable what a OS Vista is…

    Advise: if is not really necessary to buy a new computer with Vista, better put your money into upgrading your PC with memory/video card…is a better deal…
    All this shiny new computers with Vista work great for browsing…nothing else…All your old applicattion for 90% won’t work at all… Unless you have a lot of money to buy again a new set of all applications you need, making sure they are made for this new bullllsh…t of OS…

    sorry but I am very angry I threw away money for such a computer….

  • Evna

    I had an old game that did not run in vista, compat. mode make it work!

  • Chris

    How about a utility to do this automatically? At this time there is no way to force an application to use the compatibility mode using a simple registry entry, as the compatibility setting _requires_ the exact application path and the volume serial number from which the aplication is run!!!.

    In other words if your application runs from a cdrom, you’re basically out of luck!

    Thanks for nothing, Micro$oft!!!

    If there could be a way to, in effect, to enter these mouse clicks automatically, it would be of great help. If any of you have an idea on how to proceed, it would be greatly appreciated if you could email me at vucliriel at hotmail dot com.


  • gab

    just bought new laptop with Vista,
    im using it for AutoCAD 2006 which at first wont run,
    after follow the instruction above,,only set ‘program as an administration’ make it works,but the compatible issue still pop out,
    I’m wondering if i keep using CAD in this mode,
    will the window get harm effect??? or make file currupt in future???

  • Hal

    I bought Vista Ultimate”, backed up my system with “Power Quest 7″. This is incompatable and does not respond to “combatability mode”. This will mean a lot of extra steps to restore data. My sound card does not work and who knows what else is waiting to be discovered. I think I will go back to XP until I need to replace my desktop. Then get one w\o an OS. Too bad for me M$ has my money now. This is probably the perfect time to try a Mac.


  • matty

    i have also tried for several games…favorite titles for me: Heroes 3 (different additions), Lords of realms…a lot of titles that were in 2000-2003…
    None of them works in compatibility mode….

    no joy

  • russ

    Tried this for PowerQuest Drive Image 7.0, and it didn’t work :-(

  • wayne smith

    hello people and please read the following,learn and enjoy vista,develop an opinion after using this great software

    ive only had issues with one game,the other 30 or more games work great.and when xp was new it had several issues and still does ,hence the service pack 3?xp was actually more buggy initially than vista,we just have a short,forgetful memory.

    vista for the most part has been a joy to work with,it does like decent hardware,like 2 gb ddr2 ram(which is only about $40)
    a decent video card(nvidia 8800 gt $150)and a dual core cpu on a reasonable motherboard.a $500 pc will work exactly like a $500 pc, xbox 360 or ps3 is more and a pc will game and word process,email,web surf and do many more things.

    mac is the biggest waste of money on earth,disguised with cute simple minded software that is dumbed down for users that dont understand the simplest windows programs that the majority of people already understand.and they crash and get viruses the same or more than any windows machine.

    the software is unfindable and bloated and very few applications or games are available,and are very buggy.ive had a few foolish friends briefly use macs ,then very quickly bail out before the craptacularly assembled pcs overheat
    (mac builders thinks that each chipset,heatsink and cpu needs a full tube of arctic silver or paste on each item before installing the heatsink,what a joke.

    the newest pc builder is on average 75% more knowledgable that an average mac pc builder.


  • David ktitell

    One option is to create a reg file

    Code Start
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers]
    “C:\\Program Files\\DivX\\DivX Converter\\Converter.exe”=”WINXPSP2″
    Code Stop

    For each program you add another line

    Code Start
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers]
    “C:\\Program Files\\DivX\\DivX Converter\\Converter.exe”=”WINXPSP2″
    “C:\Program Files\Pidgin\pidgin.exe”=”WINXPSP2″
    Code Stop

  • greatness

    vista for me is a joy to use got service pack 1 and couldnt be happier and for some that use old software and complain its not compatible get newer software, simple actually. love my vista, made my pc faster and made my games run faster than it did in xp. honestly…. use it and use it well before you lay so much criticism

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  • Eileen

    i tried installing the disc for Sophie’s World on my vista computer but it does not work. each time i clicked the setup.exe, there is a window that pops up and says 16 bit Windows Subsystem
    “C:\ Windows\SYSTEM32\CONFIG.NT. Error Code 0x0. You do not have sufficient privilige to access this file. See your system administrator.Choose ‘Close’ to terminate the application.”

    why is this so?

  • tester

    There is a compatibility wizard in Vista that will walk through setting up an older program for Vista.
    Control Panel(home view)\Programs\Programs and Features\Use an older program with this version of Windows
    I’ve had some success with it.


    how i installed autoCAD2006 in window vista.

  • Jason

    For the Vista lovers that think everything is just sunshine and lollipops, the problem is when you have older software that there is no updated version for Vista and this joke of a compatibility mode doesn’t do anything. If only I could find what I did with my old XP disk….