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.EXE File Extension

File Type 1Windows Executable File

4.2 (4415 Votes)
CategoryExecutable Files

What is an EXE file?

An EXE file contains an executable program for Windows. EXE is short for "executable," and it is the standard file extension used by Windows programs. For many Windows users, EXE files are synonymous with Windows programs, making ".exe" one of the most recognizable file extensions.

More Information

EXE files contain binary machine code that has been compiled from source code. The machine code is saved in such a way that it can be executed directly by the computer's CPU, thereby "running" the program. EXE files may also contain resources, such as graphics assets for the GUI, the program's icon, and other resources needed by the program.

On non-Windows platforms, such as macOS and Linux, EXE files are not used for executables. macOS, for example, uses .APP files to run apps. However, if you would like to run an EXE file on a non-Windows platform, you can use a virtual machine, such as Parallels Desktop or VM VirtualBox, which allows Windows to be run within a non-Windows environment.

Common EXE Filenames

Setup.exe - A very common name for software program installers. When opened, it starts the installation process.

Install.exe - Another popular name for software installers.

cmd.exe - The shell program used by Windows 2000 and later, replacing the COMMAND.COM shell.

How do I open an EXE file?

In Windows, to run the program contained within an EXE file, locate the file and double-click it. However, do not double-click the file unless you can verify its legitimacy.

In macOS, you can use a Windows virtual machine created by Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion to run the program contained within an EXE file.

In Linux, you can use a Windows virtual machine created by Oracle VM VirtualBox to run the program contained within an EXE file, or you can use Wine, an application designed specifically to allow users to run Windows applications without installing Windows.


EXE files are typically legitimate Windows applications, but they can also be used to distribute and execute malware attacks. To protect against malicious Windows executable attacks, do not double-click an EXE file you have downloaded or received via email unless you trust the file's source.

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Programs that open EXE files

Updated 5/5/2021

File Type 2PortableApps.com Application

DeveloperRare Ideas
3.6 (537 Votes)
CategoryExecutable Files

.EXE File Association 2

Computer program that can run from a portable device such as a USB flash drive, iPod, or portable hard drive; contains user settings on the portable device, allowing the program to run the same on multiple computers.

More Information

Portable apps use the compound file extension .PAF.EXE.

Programs that open EXE files

Updated 6/17/2008

About EXE Files

Our goal is to help you understand what a file with a *.exe suffix is and how to open it.

All file types, file format descriptions, and software programs listed on this page have been individually researched and verified by the FileInfo team. We strive for 100% accuracy and only publish information about file formats that we have tested and validated.

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