Run a Program in Compatibility Mode in Windows 8

As with other versions of Windows prior to Windows 8, you can run a program in compatibility mode in order to run older programs that were written for older versions of Windows in Windows 8. In Windows 8, there is also a new tool called the Compatibility Troubleshooter, which walks you through getting an older program to run properly in Windows 8. In this article, I’ll walk you through the compatibility mode options in Windows 8.

To get started, you need to right-click on the EXE file and choose Properties. If you have installed a program, it will either be located in C:\Program Files, C:\Program Files (x86) or inside the AppData folder. You can get to the AppData folder by opening the Run dialog and typing in %appdata%.


For example, I installed Google Talk on Windows 8 and was surprised to find that it was not located under Program Files. Instead it was inside the AppData folder which is located at


By default, you cannot see this folder as it’s marked as a system folder. You can go into Folder and Search Options from Explorer and unhide it, but I find it simpler to just type it into the run dialog and open it. Once you find it, right-click and choose Properties.


Then go ahead and click on the Compatibility tab as shown below.

compatibility windows 8

To run the program for a different version of Windows, check the Run this program in compatibility mode for box and choose from the list. Your options are everything from Windows 95 and 98 to Windows 7.

compatiblity mode

Under Settings, you can choose to run the program in reduced color mode, run in a 640×480 low resolution or to disable scaling. Under Privilege, you can also have the program run as administrator in case it’s having permissions issues. You can always use this technique to always run a program in administrator mode.

Lastly, you can click on the Change settings for all users button to have the compatibility mode settings applied to all users on the system instead of just the current user. If you don’t have any idea what to change or don’t feel like doing it manually, you can always click on the Run compatibility troubleshooter button.

It will detect any problems and then give you the option to Try recommended settings or Troubleshoot program.

troubleshoot program

If you click on Troubleshoot program, it will then ask you what problems you have noticed with the program while running it in Windows 8:

problems windows 8

Basically, the first option will let you choose a different version of Windows, the second option will change the display settings, and the third option will run the program as Administrator. If you select I don’t see my problem listed, it will as you which version of Windows it worked on before. If you click I don’t know here, then you’ll get a list of exact error messages.

display problems

Once you click on any of the problems, it’ll automatically choose a set of settings for the operating system, display and permissions to run the program and test it. Overall, running older programs on Windows 8 is very similar to Windows 7 and even easier to use. Enjoy!

Comments [3]

  1. I jumped onto Win8 soon after it was introduced; though it is like a Win7 iPad attempt, it is VERY particular about what programs it will or will not run. I believe the answer I finally got on one of those was “Inappropriate program” or something like that — very illuminating after trying all the compatibility choices back to 95, when it had been perfectly happy on Win7.

    Then last week, I clicked on “Store” and was told my version of Win8 had to be upgraded . . . and of course I naively went ahead, and when we finally hit the warned that I would lose everything (I don’t think it says all will be saved under “Windows.old” at that point), I was so frustrated I went ahead and finished.

    Holy crap, Batman, I don’t see any excuse for this sledgehammer approach to upgrading, especially when the process of changing from 7 to 8 was much less destructive. But if my experience with Win7 is an indicator, we can expect at least one more everything-gets-thrown-out-with-the-wash trauma when we go from Evaluation to Final copy. Unnecessary, in my humble opinion, and just a bit on the callously sloppy “to heck with the customer let’s get ‘er done” side of programming.

  2. Valuable addition to this!!

    I was using a Mac magic mouse and running Windows 8 in Parallels.

    I was going nuts to get Quark 5.1 to run, until I hooked up a wired mouse

  3. Thanx bro. This helped me get an old program running in Windows 8!

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