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How to Quickly Locate a Program’s EXE file on Windows 10

Windows 10 Logo Hero - Version 3

If you’re doing advanced troubleshooting or configuration of a Windows 10 application and need to locate the program’s EXE file in File Explorer, there’s a quick way to do it if you have access to a shortcut. Here’s how.

First, locate a shortcut that points to the application whose EXE you need to find, because you will need to open its properties window. If the shortcut is on your desktop, right-click it and select “Properties.”

In Windows 10, right-click a desktop shortcut and select "Properties."

If the shortcut is pinned to your taskbar, right-click it, then right-click its name again in the menu that pops up just above it. In the menu that appears, click “Properties.”

In Windows 10, right-click the taskbar icon then right-click the shortcut and select "Properties."

If the shortcut is in your “Start” menu, you have more hoops to jump through (and this method only works with traditional Windows Desktop Apps and not UWP apps). Right-click the “Start” menu shortcut for the application, and select More > Open file location.

Finding an application's shortcut location using the Start Menu in Windows 10

This will open a File Explorer window that points to the actual application shortcut file. Right click on that shortcut, and select “Properties.”

No matter how you located the shortcut, a properties window will appear. Make sure you’re on the “Shortcut” tab, then click “Open File Location.”

To find an application's EXE file, right-click a shortcut and click "Open File Location" in the Properties window on Windows 10.

You’ll be taken directly to the EXE’s location in File Explorer.

Locating an application's EXE file in File Explorer on Windows 10.

What you do next depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Just be careful in there—modifying or moving a program’s files can make it not work properly.

If You Can’t Find a Shortcut to Use

If a shortcut to the program whose EXE you want to find isn’t easily available, you can browse  C:\Program Files or C:\Program Files (x86) on your machine to find the application’s main program folder. Look for a folder with a name similar to the publisher of the program, or the name of the application itself. Open it, and you might find the EXE you’re looking for inside. Good luck!

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a Staff Writer for How-To Geek. For over 14 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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