This App Can't Run on Your PC. Troubleshooting When an App Can't Run on Windows

Roman Janson Follow Jan 23, 2024 · 2 mins read
This App Can't Run on Your PC. Troubleshooting When an App Can't Run on Windows
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You try launching an application on your Windows PC, but instead of opening, you get an error saying “This app can’t run on your PC.” This frustrating error could be caused by a variety of issues, from software incompatibility to security settings blocking the app. Before giving up hope, there are several troubleshooting steps you can try to get the stubborn program running again.

First, carefully read the specifics of the error message. It may direct you to solutions like checking with the software developer for updates, enabling User Account Control, or addressing app blocking settings. If adjusting those doesn’t resolve the problem, move on to other compatibility troubleshooting techniques.

Enable Compatibility Mode

Compatibility Mode configures settings so legacy software can run properly on newer Windows versions. To use it, right-click the app executable file, select Properties > Compatibility tab. Check “Run this program in compatibility mode” and select an earlier OS like Windows 7. Also try reduced color mode, lower screen resolution, administrator rights, or use the Program Compatibility troubleshooter for tailored recommendations.

Check Software and OS Architecture

A 32-bit app won’t run on 64-bit Windows without the proper framework installed. And 16-bit programs won’t work on 64-bit systems period. Confirm you have the right application architecture for your OS version. For the OS, check Settings > System > About. For the app, contact the publisher. If needed, get an appropriate 32-bit or 64-bit version.

Try an Older App Version

If an app stopped working after a major Windows Update, it could be due to deprecated APIs or other breaking changes during upgrades. Check to download a previous release that retains compatibility with your OS. Just be careful with security and features running older software.

Enable Developer Mode

Developer Mode unlocks deeper Windows customization and troubleshooting options. To enable it, go to Settings > Update & security > For developers. Turn on Developer mode, then reboot your device. With access to new tools for managing compatibility issues, you may resolve stubborn app errors.

Create a Virtual Machine

As a last resort, install virtualization software like VirtualBox to create a virtual machine (VM) running an older version of Windows. Within this VM, install older, incompatible software so it functions properly in the original target environment. It’s not ideal and consumes resources, but does provide a workaround when all else fails.

Avoid Common Misconceptions

Note that common troubleshooting suggestions like cleaning the registry, disabling security suites, clearing browser caches, creating new user accounts etc. likely won’t resolve app launch errors in most cases. Instead, focus efforts on the compatibility and architecture checks above for the best results.

With persistence, you can usually discover the specific compatibility issue blocking an application from running on Windows. Carefully analyze error messages then methodically work through compatibility mode tweaks, architecture checks, older software rollbacks, virtual machines, and developer tools. Don’t resort to unreliable quick fixes that likely won’t apply. Stay focused on interoperability and you’ll get the troublesome program operational again.

Written by Roman Janson Follow
Senior News Editor at