This guide shows you how to run older Windows applications using the program compatibility troubleshooter. Compatibility mode helps you run your favorite applications designed for an older Windows system on newer laptops and PCs. We will follow the detailed steps based on the Official Microsoft Troubleshooting Guide and discuss each compatibility setting.
About Program Compatibility Troubleshooter
Most Windows software designed for an older operating system will work reasonably well on the latest versions of Windows (but not always the other way around). The main purpose of the compatibility troubleshooter is to fix compatibility problems, for example if your program does not render correctly on a newer Windows device. The older your legacy operating system becomes, such as Windows 7, Vista or XP, but it is necessary to fix the applications in compatibility mode.
To access program compatibility troubleshooting in Windows, go to Settings> Update & Security> Troubleshooting and select Additional troubleshooting.
From Additional Troubleshooting Settings, scroll down to launch the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter. This will open a new dialog box.
When the troubleshooter starts, it will search for available programs on your Windows 10 system. Give it a few seconds, or even a minute or two.
Finding the program compatibility troubleshooter in Windows 11 is slightly different from Windows 10. One less step is required because the original window display does not change. Instead of going to Settings, go to the launcher via System> Troubleshoot> Other troubleshooters.
Finding available programs in the Windows 11 Program Troubleshooter is faster and completes the results quickly.
In addition to the navigation menu, you can also access compatibility mode through the Windows 10/11 search box or the new search option in the Windows 11 start menu. The rest of the steps are the same for Windows 10 y 11.
Run Program Compatibility Troubleshooter in Windows
To run an older Windows program on Windows, first import the program and all its installation files from an older operating system such as Windows XP or even the latest Windows system.
When the installation is complete, go back and run the program’s compatibility troubleshooter. Wait for the programs to complete so that the newly installed legacy application is visible. If your old Windows 7 or XP program is not visible, choose Not Listed. Select the program and click “Next” to continue.
1. Compatibility Mode: Try Recommended Settings
The program compatibility troubleshooter offers two different options for solving compatibility problems. We will examine all of them. Use Test Recommended Settings to allow the troubleshooter to automatically apply Windows support based on internal preferences.
The selected program can be fixed due to compatibility issues (Picasa 3 in this example). Test the program to see the problems. Click “Next” to continue and the above program will start.
The Program Compatibility Troubleshooter will quickly detect and fix any issues and see if the issue has been resolved. If so, select “Yes, save the settings for this program” and exit the wizard. After this step, you should have no more problems.
If you continue to have problems, you can select “No, please try again with different settings” and you will be redirected to the second option as shown in the next section.
2. Compatibility Mode: Troubleshoot Programs
The second option of the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter is to select “Troubleshooter”, which gives you more control over the exact nature of the problem.
Select exact bottlenecks, such as “The program opens but does not display correctly” or “The program requires additional permissions”. If you are not sure about the problem, simply select “I don’t see my problem listed.”
You are offered a selection of older operating systems for which the program may have been developed. Choose “Don’t know” if you don’t remember. After selection, the program automatically establishes backward compatibility. Click Next and you will need to retest the compatibility settings of the program.
After you have completed the previous two steps, the above program that was designed for the older version of Windows should work correctly on your newer version of Windows. The following are advanced compatibility tips.
3. Use Reduced Color Mode
Today’s PC graphics are much more advanced than previous versions. Some of your older programs may have been designed to run with a limited number of colors in the palette. This leads to blank screens.
You can reset your old Windows program to run in “8-bit color (256)” or “16-bit color (65536)”. To do this, right-click on the program’s .exe file anywhere on your PC and go to “Properties> Compatibility”. Use the Reduced Color Mode option to correct the problems. Apply the changes to save and run the above program again. If it still doesn’t work properly, move on to the next compatibility settings.
4. Run in 640×480 Resolution
Sometimes display problems in an older program are due to graphics problems, which may appear jagged or rendered incorrectly. Right-click the program’s .exe file again and choose Properties> Compatibility. You can select the screen resolution of “640 × 480” as shown below.
As soon as you change the resolution of the program to 640 x 480, the compatibility issues should be resolved. You may also see the message “Did this program work properly?” In the Program Compatibility Wizard.
5. Change High DPI Settings
There is another compatibility setting called “Change High DPI Settings” that will resolve any conflicts due to programs appearing fuzzy, too big, or too small in Windows.
To do this, go back to the “Properties> Compatibility” option and click “Change settings for high DPI”. A new dialog will open as shown here. Select “Fix scaling issues” or “Override high DPI scaling behavior.” Both will help you make programs appear less blurry.
6. Run Programs as Administrator
The best way to get proper compatibility for an older program is to always run it as an administrator. This can be done through the start menu or by a simple right-click on the program’s exe file.
7. Change Settings for All Users
As a last step, apply the program settings for all PC accounts. Even if you were the administrator, this would allow the program to behave uniformly for all logged in users.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I get a program out of compatibility mode?
The best way to run your program in compatibility mode is to go to the program’s default executable folder on your Windows PC. Right-click and choose Properties, then go to Compatibility. You will find the option “Run this program in compatibility mode for Win 8/7 / Vista / XP” activated. Just turn this setting off or off and it will exit compatibility mode.
2. How do I check whether a program is compatible with Windows 10?
When downloading a program, be sure to select only the settings for Windows 10. If you have previously installed a program designed for Win 8.1/8/7, you will usually find a Windows 10 upgrade option in the system tray.
3. How do I check whether the Windows programs are up to date?
You can check the update status of any installed program from the Windows Update menu, where you can select “Check for updates.” You will be notified when a program requires an update.
As you have seen in this guide, most older applications or games will malfunction in newer versions of Windows because they are specifically designed for Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP. But with the Windows Program Compatibility Troubleshooter, there is always a way to get your legacy applications to run on a newer computer. If you still have old DOS programs that you want to run on Windows, here’s how to do it.