How to Fix Windows cannot find C:\Program Files error

Recently, some PC users when they try to open or start an application in their Windows 10 installation, find the error message Windows cannot find the program files. If you are affected by this problem, this message is intended to help you. In this article, we will identify the possible cause and provide you with suitable solutions that you can try to solve the problem.

Depending on the application or program (in this case, Word) that you are trying to open, you may receive the following error message:

Windows cannot find ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\WORD.EXE’. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again.

This Windows cannot find program files error is caused by incorrect debuggers or filters created for these programs under the Image File Execution Options registry key. The IFEO registry key allows developers to attach a debugger to a particular program when it starts.

It can also be used to start a different program when you run a program.

Windows cannot find error C: \ Program Files \ when opening applications
If you are facing this problem, you can try our recommended solutions below to fix the problem.

  • Manually update/reinstall the Avast product (if applicable)
  • Remove the debugger registry value from the image file execution options
  • Remove IFEO filter from the registry

Let’s take a look at the description of the process involved for each of the listed solutions.

1] Manually update/reinstall the Avast product (if applicable)

If you don’t want to wait for the automatic update, you can download the installation package and manually reinstall the Avast / AVG product to get the latest available version, including the solution.

Also see: How to increase Hard Drive speed & improve performance in Windows 10

If this solution does not apply to you because Avast is not installed on your system but you are facing a Windows Program Files problem, you can try the following suggestions:

2] Delete the registry value of the image file’s run options debugger

To remove an IFEO debugger, follow these steps:

As this is a registry operation, it is recommended that you back up the registry or create a system restore point in case the procedure does not work. Once you have taken the necessary precautions, you can do the following:

  • Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog box.
  • In the Run dialog box, type regedit and press Enter to open Registry Editor.
  • Browse or browse to the path to the registry key below:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options
  • Now, in the left pane, scroll through the list of executables under the IFEO key until you find the application or program that won’t open.
  • Then click on the executable entry of the application.
  • In the right pane, right-click an entry in the debugger and select Delete. You can perform the same steps for all other applications that do not start.
  • Restart your computer.

The problem should be resolved now. If not, try the next solution.

3] Remove IFEO filter from the registry

To remove an IFEO filter that AVAST or another program may have installed, follow these steps:

  • Open the Registry Editor.
  • Browse or navigate to the registry key path below:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options
  • Now, in the left pane, scroll through the list of executables under the IFEO key until you find the application or program that won’t open.
  • Then click on the executable entry of the application.
  • In the right pane, right-click a UseFilter entry and select Delete. You can perform the same steps for all other applications that do not start.
  • Restart your computer.

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