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.EXE File Extension

File Type 1Windows Executable File

4.3 (3798 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.

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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.


EXE files are typically legitimate Windows applications, but they may also be used for distributing and executing malware attacks on victims' computers. To protect against malicious Windows executable attacks, never double-click an EXE file you have downloaded or received via an email attachment unless you can verify the legitimacy of the source.

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Programs that open EXE files

Updated 1/16/2020

File Type 2PortableApps.com Application

DeveloperRare Ideas
3.7 (446 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.

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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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