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On my Windows XP PC several user accounts have been created (five to be exact), of these one has all the built-in programs disabled. When I click to open any of these programs it searches to find the program. This is bizarre because all the other users can open these programs just fine.

Thinking that the user account is corrupted I created a new user and this new account has the same problem. Any ideas as to what is causing this?

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When you say built in programs, you do mean programs like calculator, paint, and notepad? –  Josiah Oct 3 '12 at 15:26
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I assume you're currently trying to launch the programs from a shortcut (desktop, Quick Launch, Start menu, etc). What happens when you try to run, say, Notepad directly (C:\Windows\system32\notepad.exe)? Can you install and run third-party programs? –  Indrek Oct 3 '12 at 15:42

1 Answer 1

It's unclear whether you describe clicking a Start Menu shortcut, or the .exe file directly.

If you cannot run any .exe files from Windows Explorer:

The new user accounts (and the "Default" account, which Windows uses as the template) might have corrupted file associations, pointing all .exe files to another program (often – malware that has been incorrectly removed).

  1. Log out of all affected accounts, log in as an administrator, then delete the file Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows\Usrclass.dat from every affected profile.

  2. Also delete C:\Documents and Settings\Default User\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows\Usrclass.dat.

Usrclass.dat holds per-user file associations, and is reasonably safe to delete (on most systems, it'll only have less than a dozen associations which can be easily fixed – the rest are stored system-wide).

If you get "File in use", run regedit, expand the HKEY_USERS key, and unload all subkeys named <sid>_classes (using File → Unload Hive).

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