How to run old apps on Windows 10 using Compatibility Mode [tutorial]

Are you trying to run an old application in your Windows 10 PC? Most likely, you’ll not encounter any compatibility problem but if you do, no need for despair. Microsoft anticipated such an issue so each iteration of Windows are equipped with a system to eliminate or minimize compatibility issues. In Windows 10, its built-in tool named Program Compatibility Troubleshooter almost always do the heavy lifting in making sure you continue to enjoy using your old apps from older Windows versions. But in case you’ll still encounter trouble though, continue reading to see what you can do.

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How to use Run programs made for previous versions of Windows

While most Windows programs are regularly updated to work with the most recent version, some may not support Windows 10. This can make these apps or programs run erratically or not at all. Allowing Windows’ Program Compatibility Troubleshooter should help you make these programs properly (though this is not guaranteed to work 100%). If you haven’t tried using Program Compatibility Troubleshooter on Windows 10 before, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open the taskbar search icon.
  2. Type in Run programs.
  3. Click Run programs made for previous versions of Windows in the search result.
  4. Click Next so your computer will begin troubleshooting and fixing potential issues with your programs.
  5. Select the app that’s having issues in the next window and click Next.
  6. Under the troubleshooting option window, you should have two options: Try recommended settings and Troubleshoot program. Try recommended settings option will tell the troubleshooter to test the app using the previous version of Windows. If you pick Troubleshoot program option, the troubleshooter will ask you which problems you’re having. The troubleshooter will then offer tests and suggestions depending on the selection you picked. It’s up to you whether you’ll use Try recommended settings or Troubleshoot program.
  7. Click the Test the program button and then click Next. Afterwards, you’ll be asked to either:
    • choose to save the settings for the app,
    • try different settings, or
    • report the problem to Microsoft and view help articles online.

How to run a program in Compatibility Mode

Another option that you can use to see if a program can work with Windows 10 is the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter. This is useful if the previous steps did not automatically fix the problems and you want to manually change the settings yourself. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Enter the name of the program in the search box on the taskbar, press and hold (or right-click) the search result, and then select Open file location.
  2. Press and hold (or right-click) the program, select Properties, and then select the Compatibility tab. Then, select Run compatibility troubleshooter to run the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter. If you’re still experiencing compatibility problems, adjust one or more of the following settings and select OK when you’re done: 
    • Compatibility mode. Runs the program using settings from a previous version of Windows. Try this setting if you know the program is designed for (or worked with) a specific version of Windows.
    • Reduced color mode. Uses a limited set of colors in the program. Some older programs are designed to use fewer colors.
    • Run in 640 × 480 screen resolution. Try this setting if the graphics for the program appear jagged or are rendered improperly.
    • Override high DPI display scaling behavior. This option can be used if your program appears pixelated or doesn’t show correctly on the screen.
    • Run this program as an administrator. Some programs require administrator privileges to run properly. If you aren’t signed in to your PC as an administrator, this option is unavailable.
    • Change settings for all users. Apply the settings for that program to all accounts on the PC, and select Administrator permission required Change settings for all users. You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice. 
  3. Hit Apply, and try to open the app you’re having an issue with.


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