Turn Off Compatibility Mode for Steam

Sometimes when Steam crashes or there is a problem with it (or a game running from it) Windows 7 thinks that Steam needs to run in compatibility mode. This is a problem, because Steam doesn’t need to be in compatibility mode and shouldn’t be. Compatibility mode can cause issues with some games.

Screenshot of Windows 7 compatibility warning when starting steam.exe

Steam displays a warning when it is set to run in compatibility mode.

Unfortunately turning this off isn’t as simple as right-clicking on the Steam shortcut (or even the steam.exe file), viewing the Compatibility tab, and unchecking the Run this program in compatibility mode for option.

Screenshot of steam.exe Compatibility tab.

The Compatibility tab for steam.exe will not fix the issue.

Fortunately I found this quick fix using a simple registry edit:

  1. Go to the Start menu and type “regedit” into the search box and press Enter. If you have UAC enabled you’ll need to click Yes to continue.
  2. Browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers and delete the entry for the steam.exefile.
    Screenshot of the steam.exe registry entry that enables compatibility mode.

    Browse to the steam.exe registry entry that enables compatibility mode.

    Screenshot of the context menu for the registry entry with the delete option selected.

    Right-click on the registry entry and delete it.

    Screenshot of the confirmation warning to delete the registry entry.

    Confirm that you want to delete the registry entry.

  3. You should also see if there is an entry in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE in the same location and delete it as well. Failing that, check in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Compatibility Assistant\Persisted.
  4. Restart your computer. Steam should no longer run in compatibility mode.

I think it’s unfortunate that Windows 7 automatically applies compatibility mode without your consent and without a user-friendly way of turning it off, but at least it’s relatively easy to fix. If you’ve encountered this problem and have another solution or more information let me know in comments!

46 thoughts on “Turn Off Compatibility Mode for Steam

  1. this was a wonderful walk through on how to fix this issue. i say this because i just had this problem. or so i thought. for other users who might be having this problem i have some thing to say on top of what you just said. i did exactly what you said to do, only instead of having a steam.exe file to delete, i didnt have any thing at all. so what i did was right click on steam, clicked properties, clicked compatibility, checked “run this program in compatibility mode for:” clicked “apply” then immediately un checked the ” run this program in compatibility mode for:” and then clicked apply once more and exited out. then i clicked on my steam icon and it is now working. so thank you for you time and help. i hope this helps any one who might need it. :)

  2. My question is how did steam all of a sudden start running in compatibility mode? I have never had this issue and it randomly showed up this morning

  3. Thank you, i just ran into this problem and found your well documented solution which is easy to apply and solves this issue. I wonder why Windows 7 put Steam into compatibility mode anyway. But i guess that will always stay a secret of Microsoft.

  4. When i got to “Layers” in regedit the only thing there was “(Default)”, so i dk what to do. Please Help!

  5. Hey Josh,
    when i am at this point: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags, it only says compatibility assistant. PLEASE help me!

    • Hi Theo,

      Your issue may be caused by something besides the registry. Unfortunately I haven’t had to troubleshoot this issue beyond the solution I wrote about, so my advice would be to post to the Steam forums for more help.

    • Sorry found layers under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE but here is the kicker, there is no steam.exe, mind=blown. Help?

        • I am having the same “issue” (if you will) as Kirby, and I did what you said in the reply. However, I do not have Persisted or steam.exe. Please help.

  6. Dude, Thanks a lot. I did it on windows XP and ran just fine.If you have time, please make one for XP because im not sure if this is all safe for the pc. THANKS AGAIN :D

  7. Unfortunately, this didn’t really help me. ]= My big issue is that when I got to the compatibility tab to turn it off, my computer has the box to uncheck shaded that no-clicking-milky-white so that I can’t click it. I’ve tried Registry edit and the basics, but I can’t really fix it. Steam still continues to think it’s running in compatibility mode.

  8. I was so irritated with Windows 7’s behavior on this that I built a .reg file in case it happens again. If you want to use it, feel free: Just create a new text document on your desktop, paste in the following and save it, then rename the file to have a .reg extension instead of .txt. Worked wonders for me, thanks for the info Josh.

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers]
    "C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Steam\\Steam.exe"=-
    
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers]
    "C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Steam\\Steam.exe"=-
    
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Compatibility Assistant\Persisted]
    "C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Steam\\Steam.exe"=-
    • Sorry for the double post, but it appears that the website may have automatically formatted the quotes to “smart quotes” (notice how they lean toward each other around those two words). If you create this .reg file you’ll have to remove and re-enter the quotes inside of Notepad so that they are the right format.

  9. Hi Guys
    I have downloaded a game and installed it. When I try to run it or to play the game there appears an error message ” FAILED TO INITIALIZE STEAM”. How do I fix this so that I can play the game??

  10. I don’t wanna do this wrong I just want to check if i doing this right my Layers is in HKEY LOCAL and when i got to it it says that the data is VISTARTM is that normal

    • If you see Steam.exe in there, you need to delete it. If you look at my comment on April 26th you can create a file which will do everything for you automatically, though if you’re more comfortable doing it manually more power to you. :)

  11. Even though I followed the instructions on this webpage to the letter this still doesn’t work for me. I’m not playing the game that requires the compatibility anymore and I was wondering if there was any way I would be able to recover the compatibility files, without having to re-download steam and all of the games I have on there.

  12. @coco123 – There are three different potential locations listed in the article. Make sure to look for them all, or scroll up a bit and find the contents for a .reg file I posted which may solve the problem for you. Note that this article only helps if you are seeing that exact “Running Steam in Windows compatibility mode is not recommended” message.

  13. So I had the same problem, and your fix worked great! Unfortunately Steam no longer starts when I boot-up my PC, and when I try to run TexMod (modding program) or FNC4GB (a program that enables Fallout New Vegas to use 4GB of memory for heavy modding) I get an error that says steam is not currently running or it simply fails to initialize. Any ideas on how to fix this? The error when starting Big Picture was annoying, but at least everything still worked properly.

  14. doesn’T help me with RIPD – The Game, minidump.dmp error, just can’t start the game, crashes during loading screen

    • You’re correct, it doesn’t. This post is only regarding the error in the first screenshot at the top. If you need help getting a Steam game to run I recommend the Steam forums.

  15. I looked in both maps for a steam exe file. None found! I only find a steam exe file is in the Store. Can I delete it from there or is there annything I don’t see?

  16. If you are running in windows 8, put the RelicCoH2.exe with compatibility mode for Windows 8. The game will work fine.

  17. I couldn’t find steam.exe folder in any of those files. As i did more searching i found that there was a Program File (x86)/steam/ steam.exe file under the “store” folder. Here is the file location.
    Computer/HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Compatibility Assistant\Store

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