How to Run your Older Programs in Windows 7/Vista

Sometimes, it can be very annoying to get an older program to run in Windows 7 or Vista. These programs are often not compatible with your current installation of Windows, and yet they are essential for your daily usage. So what can you do about it? Luckily, there is this Program Compatibility Wizard in Windows 7/Vista that can make things slightly easier. What the wizard does is to make the Operating System behaves like an earlier version of Windows so older programs can run on it smoothly.

Here are the steps to make older programs run in Windows 7/Vista.

  • Open Control Panel from the start menu of  Windows 7/Vista.
  • Click on “Programs” from the right pane.
  • Now you can see “Programs and features”. Under this header, click on “Use an older program with this version of windows“.
  • The program compatibility wizard will appear with a caution message.
  • Click “Next” to continue.

For Windows Vista

  • Now 3 options will appear. You can run program compatibility wizard for those programs that are already installed but not running properly by choosing the the option”I want to choose from a list of programs“. There is another option that allows you to choose the location of the setup file of the application which you are going to install in Vista.
  • After choosing the appropriate option, you have to select the operating system in which the program is compatible. Here I have chosen Windows XP service pack 2.


  • The next window allows you to change the display settings for the application. This is only necessary if you experienced any problem with the display.


  • If your programs need the administrator privilege to run, check the box Run program as administrator and click “Next“.


  • Windows will now check if the program compatibility settings work fine for the older program. Once it is done, it will show a UAC security prompt. Click “Allow
  • If it finds any compatibility issue, it will show an error message.


  • If everything is fine, go back to the compatibility wizard page and choose “Yes, set this program to always use these compatibility settings“. Click “Next” and then “Finish“.

For Windows 7

  • It will list all the installed programs.
  • Pick the incompatible program from the list. If you have not installed (or can’t install) the program, you can choose “Not listed” to select the setup file of the program.
  • Now two options will appear. The first is for testing with the recommended settings and the second one is for customizing the settings. If you are having problems with the display and user permissions, choose the second option.


  • If you choose the recommended compatibility settings, the system will find the suitable settings for the program. If you have chosen the second option, you will see a window where you can configure the display and user permission issue.
  • Click on “Start the program“.
  • Once it is done, go back to the program compatibility wizard and click on “Next“.
  • Choose “Yes, save this settings for this program“.

You can also set the compatibility mode by right clicking on the executable file.

  • Right click on the executable file and choose Properties.
  • Select the Compatibility tab.
  • Check the “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” option.

windows-compatibility-context menu

Make the necessary configuration and click OK.

You will have a better chance of running the older programs in Windows 7 than on Vista. However, it still doesn’t guarantee to work for all software. You might want to contact your software vendor to see if a newer release of the software is available.


Tanmay Ahmed is the administrator as well as the owner of the tech blog TechsGig where he regularly writes about computer tips & tricks, OS hacks, free online web tools and much more. In real life he is a student of computer science from Kolkata,India and he is very much passionate about being a professional blogger. He is here to share his knowledge that he gained from his student & blogging life.

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