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Disable Program Compatibility Assistant in Windows 7 and Vista

If you’re an administrator and trying to get work done quickly, having the Program Compatibility Assistant popping up constantly can be annoying. Today we take a look at how to disable this feature if you are tired of seeing the nagging messages.

While configuring workstations on a domain or even on your local machine, it can be quite handy to turn this annoyance off to save time.

Note: PCA monitors programs for known compatibility issues and can be very beneficial for end users. This tip is aimed at power users and administrators. 

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Turn Program Compatibility Assistant off on a Local Machine 

You may want to turn it off on local machine. For example when testing software and setting up different scenarios for our articles, it saves us a lot of time having it turned off.

Click on Start and type services.msc into the search box and hit enter.

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Now scroll down to the Program Compatibility Assistant Service and click Stop.

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You will get the following Service Control screen briefly while it is shutdown. Then to turn it back on just repeat the same process.

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If you’re doing multiple reboots you might want to completely disable it.

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Disable Program Compatibility Assistant Using Local Group Policy Editor 

Enter gpedit.msc into the start menu and hit Enter.

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Now navigate to User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Application Compatibility. Then on the left side under Setting double click on Turn off Compatibility Assistant.

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Now click on Enabled then click on Apply and OK then close out of Local Group Policy Editor.

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Again we don’t recommend the average home user disable PCA as it can cause conflicts and system instability. However, for power PC users and administrators, having PCA turned off can save a lot of time and frustration.

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 09/23/09

Comments (18)

  1. MiCHi

    i think the you should tick “Enable” to turn the assistent off, don’t you think? it’s called “Turn off” so it has to be enabled to turn it off.

    i got no comment as you do, but the help says “if you enable it, the PCA will turn off” on my system

  2. Firas

    very good Mysticgeek

    thanks :-)

  3. Anders Jensen

    Have you tried this solution for application with hard block? (without option to “run anyway”)
    It doesn’t seem to work. Try downloading Microsofts release of the DigitalPersona software for Microsoft Fingerprint Reader. PCA denies the installer to run at all. I tried these tips, but no change.
    Using Win7 Ultimate Retail.

  4. safaa

    i think the you should tick “Enable” to turn the assistent off, don’t you think? it’s called “Turn off” so it has to be enabled to turn it off.

    very good hint

  5. Andreas

    Nice. What I have understood. PCA is instead off choosing to run a game in ie. Compatibility mode for XP or am I wrong?

  6. Jaitsu

    Hey, do you know the registry equivalents of that GPEdit change? I’m stuck on Windows 7 Home Premium and I’m stuck with no gpedit.msc.

  7. Infuzibil

    Nice tip! PCA can be realy, realy annoying. I had a small program, Vista Shutdown Timer, and PCA did’t allow it to run. Now is all fine!

  8. OGRastamon

    I’ve disabled the PCA so why is it still blocking my programs?

  9. Adam Orama

    Even if you disable it, soft and hard blocks will appear. Here is that real soloution. This is how to stop PCA COMPLETELY. EVEN FROM HARDBLOCKS
    Well Dude,

    It is very simple. There is no way you can Disable PCA without it popping up. But if you want to stop that permanently, you have to delete PCA from your computer. Here are the steps to delete PCA from your Computer.

    1. Go to start and click computer.

    2. Now click the search bar and type in “PCAUI”.

    3. Now you should see a whole bunch of files.

    4. Now first Right Click any-file inside the search results.

    5. Click properties.

    6. Go to Security.

    7. Click the advanced button below the permissions box.

    8. Now click the Owner tab.

    9. Now click Edit

    10. Select Administrator

    11. Click Apply

    12. Click ok again

    13. now where we first began, in the properties windows click security again

    14. CLick edit

    15. Allow FULL CONTROL to everybody

    16. DENY FULL CONTROL TO TRUSTED INSTALLER

    17. Now click ok

    18. Repeat steps 3-17 again with all the files

    19. When you are done, select all the files in the folder

    20. Click on your keyboardm SHIFT+delete

    21. Click YES

    22. Now you should not have anymore problems

  10. sixor

    thanks, worked

  11. sean

    i have game thats worked on windows vista now i got windows 7 Ultimate game is not working i did Compatibility still not working i disable the Compatibility still not working help please

  12. velcro

    great idea..thank lots..there’s no more problem to play such a any game

  13. Jeff

    I foolishly let the compatibility assistant put Steam into compatibility mode, and now I can’t get it out. I have been to Properties for both the exe file and the shortcut, and there are no checkmarks on the compatibility tab. What now? I’m using Win7 Home Premium. Thanks.

  14. Rob

    To the original writer, your steps do not work. Compatibility assistant still appears. I will go as far as to say, please do your research, and double check your steps before posting. The directions make the entire howtogeek site look bad.

  15. Aqua

    Thank you so much for the help!! Hopefully previous comments were wrong and these steps do work, because I’m having a mental breakdown here- Steam is stupid not to fix this, I’ve seen complaints elsewhere as well. I’ve been working to get a game (Civ 5) to work for 48 hours. SO not worth it. Thanks again.

  16. hosein

    thanks

  17. Bryce

    For the Steam problem, go to

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers

    in the registry and delete the key for steam in order to remove any compatibility settings for it.

  18. Stu

    This article should probably be edited. The gpedit goof is pretty unforgivable considering it even says in the description what to do:

    “If you enable this policy setting, the PCA will be turned off.”
    “If you disable or do not configure this policy setting, the PCA will be turned on.”

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