How to Make Older Programs Compatible with Windows 8
If a program or driver written for an earlier version of Windows doesn't run properly in Windows 8
, then you could try changing the compatibility mode
settings for the program or driver to hopefully allow it to run properly in Windows 8 afterwards.
Compatibility mode settings are not available for the programs that came included as part of Windows 8.
If changing the compatibility settings does not fix the problem, then you could go to the program manufacturer's website to see if there is an update for the program that may allow it to run properly afterwards.
To see if your software is compatible with Windows 8, check it here: Windows Compatibility Center: Find Updates, Drivers, & Downloads for Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows 7
Do not use compatibility mode on antivirus programs, firewall programs, backup software, or disk utilities because it could cause data loss or create a security risk.
You only want to use these type of programs for the Windows listed in their system requirements.
To Run the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter
1. Do step 2 or 3 below for how you would like to run the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter.
2. From the Context Menu of a Program
A) Right click or press and hold on a program's shortcut (LNK), EXE, or MSI file on your desktop or in Windows Explorer, and click/tap on Troubleshoot compatibility. (see screenshot below)
B) The wizard will now start to detect any issues and give you a list of choices to choose from. Select the option you would like to try, then follow the rest of the onscreen instructions in the wizard until you are through troubleshooting the compatibility issue with the program. (see screenshots below)
3. From the Control Panel
A) Open the Control Panel (icons view)
, and click/tap on the Troubleshooting
B) Click/tap on the Run programs made for previous versions of Windows
link. (see screenshot below)
C) Click/tap on Advanced, select the options you want, and click/tap on Next. (see screenshots below)
NOTE: You will need to be signed in as an administrator to use the Run as administrator option.
D) Select the program that is not running properly in Windows 8, and click/tap on Next. (see screenshot below)
NOTE: If the program is not listed, then click/tap on Not listed to be able to manually browse to the program's shortcut (LNK), EXE, or MSI file and select it.
E) Follow the rest of the onscreen instructions in the wizard until you are through troubleshooting the compatibility issue with the selected program.
To Change Compatibility Settings from Program's Properties
1. Do step 2 or 3 below for how you would like to open the program's Properties page.
2. From the "Start" or "Apps" Screen
A) Right click or press and hold on a single program to check it, and click/tap on Open file location. (see screenshots below)
NOTE: This is not available with Metro apps. You can only have one item selected (checked) for this to work.
B) Go to step 3A below.
3. From the Desktop or Windows Explorer
A) Right click or press and hold on a program's shortcut (LNK), EXE, or MSI file on your desktop or in Windows Explorer, and click/tap on Properties. (see screenshot below)
B) Continue on to step 4 below.
4. Click/tap on the Compatibiliy tab, and do steps 5, 6, 7, and/or 8 below for what you would like to set for this program. (see screenshots below)
5. To Run a Program in Compatibility Mode in Only your User Account NOTE: Runs the program using settings from a previous version of Windows. Try this setting if you know the program is designed for (or worked in) a specific previous version of Windows
6. To Change the Settings for a Program in Only your User Account
A) Click/tap on the Run this program in compatibility mode for
box to check it. (see screenshots below step 4)
B) Click/tap on the drop down menu arrow and select which version of Windows the program was written for. (see screenshots below step 4) NOTE: Always pick the latest Windows version the program was written for to have a better chance of it running properly in Windows 8.
MSI files will only have the Previous version of Windows option available for it. This option will allow Windows 8 to automatically use the previous version compatibility mode it thinks is best for the MSI file to run properly as. You will not be able to do steps 6 and 7 below with a MSI file.
NOTE: These settings will be grayed out and unavailable for 64-bit programs.
7. To Change the Privilege Level of a Program in Only your User Account NOTE: Runs the program as an administrator. Some programs require administrator privileges to run properly. If you are not currently signed in as an administrator, then this option will not be available
A) Click/tap on the settings you want to enable (check) or disable (uncheck) for the program. (see screenshots below step 4) NOTE: See the table below for a description of each setting
|Setting ||Description |
|Run in reduced color mode ||Uses a limited set of colors (8-bit or 16-bit) in the program. Some older programs are designed to use fewer colors. |
|Run in 640 x 480 screen resolution ||Runs the program in a smaller-sized window. Try this setting if the graphics for the program appear jagged or are rendered improperly. |
|Disable display scaling on high DPI settings ||Turns off automatic resizing of programs if large-scale font size is used. Try this setting if large-scale fonts are interfering with the appearance of the program. |
8. To Change and Apply These Settings to All Users NOTE: You must be signed in as an administrator to be able to do this step.
A) Click/tap on the Run this program as an administrator box to enable (check) or disable (uncheck) this option. (see screenshots below step 4)
A) Click/tap on the Change settings for all users
button. (see screenshots below step 4)
B) If prompted by UAC
, then click/tap on Yes
C) Repeat steps 5, 6, and/or 7
above in this new window to apply them to all users on the computer, and click/tap on OK
when finished. NOTE: Changes made here will override and gray out the same setting in the window under step 4 used in step 5, 6, and 7 above.
When finished, click/tab on OK
to apply the changes. (see screenshots below step 4)
To Manually Change Compatibility Settings in Registry Editor
1. Do a "Apps" Search for regedit
, and click/tap on regedit.exe on the left side. NOTE: You could also press Windows+R to open Run, type regedit, and click/tap OK
If prompted by UAC
, then click/tap on Yes
. 3. In regedit, navigate to each location below one at a time and do the steps below for each location. (see screenshot below)
NOTE: If Layers is not there, then right click on AppCompatFlags, click on New and Key, type Layers, and press Enter.
(Current User Only)
Do step 5 or 6
below for what you would like to do. 5. To Run a Program in Compatibility Mode
A) In the right pane of Layers
, right click or press and hold on a empty area, then click/tap on New
and String Value
. (see screenshot below)
B) Type in the full path of the program's exe
file and press Enter, then double click/tap on the full path. (see screenshot below)
C) Type in a one or more combinations of Data
values (see tables below) for how you want to run the program as, and click/tap on OK
. (see screenshot below) NOTE: If you use more than one , then you must enter them in the order they are listed in the table below
~ [Privilege Level] + [Settings (one or more with a space inbetween)] + [Compatibility Mode (only one)
To run a program as if it was in Windows Vista SP2 (Compatibility mode), and Reduced color mode 16-bit (Settings), and to run as administrator (Privelege level) you would type this exactly:
~ RUNASADMIN 16BITCOLOR VISTASP2
Say you also wanted to add Run in 640 x 480 screen resolution (Settings) with the above example, you would type this exactly:
~ RUNASADMIN 640x480 16BITCOLOR VISTASP2
|Privilege level ||Data value |
|Run this program as an Administrator ||RUNASADMIN |
|Settings ||Data value |
|Disable display scaling on high DPI settings ||HIGHDPIWARE |
|Run in 640 x 480 screen resolution ||640X480 |
|Reduce color mode (8-bit 256) ||256COLOR |
|Reduce color mode (16-bit 65536) ||16BITCOLOR |
|Compatibiliy mode ||Data value |
|Windows 95 ||WIN95 |
|Windows 98 / Windows ME ||WIN98 |
|Windows XP (Service Pack 2) ||WINXPSP2 |
|Windows XP (Service Pack 3) ||WINXPSP3 |
|Windows Vista ||VISTARTM |
|Windows Vista (Service Pack 1) ||VISTASP1 |
|Windows Vista (Service Pack 2) ||VISTASP2 |
|Windows 7 ||WIN7RTM |
6. To Stop a Program from Running in Compatibility Mode
A) In the right pane of Layers, right click or press and hold on the full path of the program under Name, and click/tap on Delete. (see screenshot below)
B) Click on Yes to confirm deletion. (see screenshot below)
When finished, close regedit. NOTE: Some programs may require you to restart the computer for this to be applied