How to Run Old Apps on Windows 11

Have old games or programs you’d like to run but don’t work on Windows 11? Use compatibility mode to get started. This guide explains how.

Windows 11 continues to grab a foothold on PC user machines. The improved operating system comes with new features and possible challenges for your older programs and apps.

If you need a “must have” app or game that runs fine on Windows 7, for example, it might not be compatible with Windows 11. However, you might experience problems where the app doesn’t work or display correctly, or worse; it can’t run at all.

The good news is you can run old software on Windows 11 using the built-in compatibility mode feature. If you want to run old apps on Windows 11, follow the steps below.

How to Run Old Apps on Windows 11 with Compatibility Mode

There are a few different ways you can use compatibility mode and make it run automatically or manually enable it and its settings. In addition to getting the old software to run, it has options for DPI, color, and screen resolutions, so it displays well on your new Windows 11 PC.

To manually enable compatibility mode for a program or app on Windows 11:

  1. Press the Windows key and search for the app you need to run.
  2. Select the Open file location option from the menu that appears.Run Old Apps on Windows 11
  3. Right-click on the app’s executable in File Explorer and select Properties from the context menu.Run Old Apps on Windows 11
  4. Click the Compatibility tab at the top.
  5. Under the Compatibility mode section, check the Run this program in compatibility mode for option.
  6. Click the dropdown menu and choose the version of Windows that your old application supports.
    Note: You can choose from Windows 8 back to Windows 95 (for old programs).
  7. Click Apply and OK and run the legacy app to see if it will work.

Other Compatibility Mode Settings

It’s also worth noting other Compatibility mode options you can set. These settings can help if you are trying to get an ancient application to run.

Run Old Apps on Windows 11

These settings include:

  • Reduce color mode: Change the bit color to 8 or 16-bit based on the software’s requirements.
  • Run in 640×480 screen resolution: Also, for old software that doesn’t support the high resolutions of modern displays.
  • Disable fullscreen optimizations: Use this for old programs that cannot run in full-screen mode.
  • Run this program as administrator: For software programs that require admin rights to run correctly. You should only need to choose the option once.
  • Use legacy display ICC color management: Uses International Color Consortium (ICC) color settings to display colors accurately.
  • Change high DPI settings: Click this button to access DPI issues with a particular program. You can use Program DPI settings to fix scaling problems or behavior.

Note that you may need to apply each of the settings above one at a time until you achieve the desired results for your old app.

How to Run Compatibility Mode Troubleshooter on Windows 11

Having trouble running an app in compatibility mode? You can use the compatibility mode troubleshooter to help run the software without issues.

To run the compatibility mode troubleshooter on Windows 11:

  1. Open the Start menu and search for the problematic app.
  2. Next, right-click the app’s shortcut and click Open file location.Run Old Apps on Windows 11
  3. Right-click the app’s executable file in File Explorer and choose Properties.Run Old Apps on Windows 11
  4. Select the Compatibility tab at the top and click the Run compatibility troubleshooter button.
  5. The troubleshooter will run – click the Try recommended settings option.Run Old Apps on Windows 11
  6. Click the Test the program button to see if the compatibility mode settings fix the problem with the app.
  7. If the program works, click Next and continue the on-screen instructions from the troubleshooting wizard.
  8. Click Yes, save these settings for this program.

If your old app doesn’t work, select the No, try again using a different settings option until the problem is resolved. If the troubleshooting wizard doesn’t get it running, manually change the compatibility mode settings one at a time until it runs.

Running Older Apps on Windows 11

If you run into a problem where an old program doesn’t run with Windows 11’s native settings, compatibility mode is there to help you to get it working. Just follow the steps above—you should be running your older program in no time.

Now, if you have an ancient MS-DOS program or game that you want to run, check out the free and open-source DOSBox emulator as a solution. It allows you to run those programs in a virtual environment on top of Windows 11.

For more on managing apps on Windows 11, check out how to force close an unresponsive app. Or learn about using the Archive Apps feature. In addition, you might want to know about blocking internet access to apps or how to uninstall apps on Windows 11.

To improve boot time, you can disable startup apps and set Windows 11 to install Microsoft Store apps only if you are the administrator. And a new feature you’ll want to check out is how to install Android apps on Windows 11. And, if you aren’t on Windows 11 yet, no worries. You can use Compatibility mode on Windows 10 too.

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