Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I had Windows Vista and it got a virus. I reinstalled the operating system but with XP. Now it works absolutely fine, but every time I try to open a .exe file, i'm told 'the filename directory name syntax is incorrect'

share|improve this question

I had a virus a few months ago and after I deleted the virus I couldn't run any exe files. I thought this was a nice touch by the virus writer. Anyway, there is a web site that has registry tweaks and one of the tweaks restores the ability to run exe files. Sometimes a virus will also disable the ability to process registry files too but the site has instructions for fixing this.

Look for:

(Restore default association for EXE files)

share|improve this answer

I'm betting you reinstalled the OS without removing the old one, thus corrupting the registry. Since you just reinstalled, I suggest you back up your data, format the hard disk, then reinstall XP one more time.

share|improve this answer

The registry might still be corrupted from the previous installation somehow.

HKCR\exefile\shell\open\command should have a default value of "%1" %*

If you can't run regedit.exe, try making a copy and renaming it to or regedit.bat. File extensions don't matter for executable files.

share|improve this answer
Renaming it to regedit.bat will fail MISERABLY. It could, in theory corrupt your system ever further, as a matter of fact. – Hello71 Aug 5 '10 at 2:06

See "Let me fix it myself"

Or use this File Association fixer tool

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.