Have you just tried opening a file in Windows and received the error message "These files cannot be opened"? The error mostly occurs with .exe files, but some users have encountered it with other file types as well. The problem is most common on Windows 7 and 8, but you can still encounter it on a Windows 10 PC."
Fortunately, fixing the error shouldn't take longer than having a cup of coffee. However, what may take a little longer is to identify the source of the problem so that you can apply the appropriate fix. From Internet properties to Internet Explorer settings, there could be several reasons that could be causing the error.
Whatever the cause, one of the fixes below will set you up so you can get back to those files without pulling your hair out.
1. Check if your file is blocked
When downloading an executable file from the internet or transferring files between PCs, Windows may block the file to protect your system. In this case you will witness the error "These files cannot be opened"but a two-step fix is all you need to unlock that file.
To illustrate this behavior here, we have downloaded the setup file of the 4K Video Downloader to a PC. Windows didn't block us from accessing this file, but it warned us under the safety Section in the File Properties> General Tab.
The message says "This file came from another computer and may be blocked to protect this computer."If you can't access the file, you can fix this by using the Unlock box and press OK. If you're using a different version of Windows, you might see a button instead of a check box, but the process is the same.
When you're done, try running the file and see if everything is okay again.
2. Change your Internet properties
Windows checks your Internet properties when it decides whether a file is allowed to run on your PC. If your Internet properties mark a file as unsafe, Windows will give you the message "These files cannot be openedError. Therefore, to change the way Windows behaves, you need to make some changes to your Internet properties.
Note that you have to make your security settings less strict in the Internet properties for this. While you may be able to fix the error this way, if you don't pay attention to what files you're downloading onto your system also leaves your system vulnerable to security threats.
If you choose to go this route, first open the internet properties. To do this, press Profit + r, Type inetcpl.cpl, and press Enter. Switch to safety Tab in the Internet Properties window and click the Custom level Button.
You will now see a window called Security Settings – Internet Zone. Scroll through the list under the settings Section and look for Starting applications and unsafe files.
Make sure the radio button for Prompt (recommended) is selected. This option is usually selected by default, but if you've tinkered with your internet properties in the past, you may have accidentally changed it to Deactivate.
When you're done, click OK and see if you can run the file.
3. Try editing values in the Windows registry
If the previous fixes didn't work for you, you can also try allowing unsafe files by editing the Windows registry. You need to add a new registry entry from the command prompt. Start by launching the elevated Command Prompt by pressing Profit + r, tap cmdand press Ctrl + Shift + Enter.
Run the following commands one by one:
reg add "HKCU Software Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Policies Associations" / v "DefaultFileTypeRisk" / t REG_DWORD / d "1808" / f
reg add "HKCU Software Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Policies Attachments" / v "SaveZoneInformation" / t REG_DWORD / d "1" / f
This will add two new registry keys. When you're done, restart your PC and try to open the files.
4. Reset Internet Explorer
If you are using Internet Explorer, it can be helpful to reset the settings to the default settings. To reset Internet Explorer settings, click the ellipsis icon in the top right corner of the browser and click Internet options. Switch to Progressive Tab and click the Reset to default Button.
Confirm the reset when prompted, and then restart your PC.
If you still can't get the files you want to run, it may be time for a last resort.
5. Roll back your computer to a previous system restore point
If you have been able to run a specific file in the recent past but have received this error after making some settings, there is an option to restore your system to an earlier state where everything was fine.
To do this, you first need to make sure that a system restore point has been created on your PC. Start with Profit + r, tap rstruiand press Enter. This starts the system recovery Window. If you have a restore point, you'll see one under that Recommended restoration Opportunity.
If you don't have a restore point, the message "No restore points have been created on your computer's system drive."This means that your PC has no historical point of reference to refer to, and you cannot use this method to resolve your issue.
If you have a restore point on your system, choose the recommended restore point or a different one depending on when the problem started and click Next. Continue to follow the instructions in the wizard. Once the system is restored, your PC will restart and you should now be able to run the files you want.
Can you open the files now?
Hopefully one of these fixes worked for you and you are no longer receiving them These files cannot be opened Error. If it still does, you can try resetting your PC. All of the settings in your Windows will be reset to their default settings and some of your files may be lost in the process. Therefore, it is recommended to make a backup before resetting.
4 ways to factory reset your Windows computer
Learn how to factory reset Windows 10 using a variety of methods, including booting and reinstalling manually.
About the author
(28 published articles)
Arjun is a trained accountant and loves researching technology. He likes to use technology to make everyday tasks easier and often a lot more fun.
By Arjun Ruparelia
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