The “Windows cannot find steam.exe error” has been a fairly common problem for Steam users. It usually occurs when you try to launch the service directly from its desktop shortcut. However, there have been reports of users encountering the same issue when launching the app from the steam installation files.
We’ve compiled a list of potential solutions that you can use to resolve the error you’re seeing below.
Getting to the Root of the Issue
Why do you believe the error exists despite the presence of the associated files on your computer? We discovered that the following factors could cause the problem:
Registry problem: When you have a corrupted registry key, the error will appear.
Corrupted Files: Although this is a very common problem, it is likely the cause of your inability to launch Steam.
Virus or Malware: If none of the above are the cause of the problem, you most likely see the error resulting from unwanted malware or virus infecting your computer.
Antivirus: Certain applications are flagged by antivirus software, which may compel the user to allow the application to run on a computer by adding it to exceptions. This could also be true in this case. Antivirus software, specifically Avast, has been known to flag steam.exe.
Incomplete Download: If you are a new steam user who has recently downloaded steam, you may be experiencing this issue due to an error during the initial download/installation process.
How do I fix the “Windows cannot find steam.exe” error?
There are a variety of solutions available, ranging from the most basic to the most advanced processes. We will, however, prioritize simple and long-lasting fixes over complex ones.
1- Determine whether you are simply using a Broken shortcut
Okay, so this may not appear to be an effective solution compared to the others on this list, but trust us on this one. If you haven’t already done so, try opening the steam application from its file explorer to ensure the error is caused by the steam application and not a broken shortcut.
To do so, simply follow these steps:
- Navigate to your File Explorer.
- Go to the disc where your steam files are located, which is most likely “C: Drive,” and open up “Program Files (x86),” then find and open the Steam Folder.
- Locate and run the steam.exe file. If the steam begins without error, your shortcut is broken. If the steam directory file still displays the “Windows cannot find steam.exe” error, please proceed to the next solution.
2: Restart the computer
This may be one of the most apparent fixes available, but trust us when we say that it resolves the majority of errors encountered by users.
Restarting your computer restores your system and all of its programs to their original state, removes all cache, and allows your computer to rest.
3: Run a virus scan on your computer
Viruses may be preventing access to your Steam application, preventing it from running. You must scan your computer to see if this is the case. You can use Windows Defender or any free antivirus program, such as Malwarebytes or AVG.
In this guide, we will concentrate on the Windows Defender.
- Launch Windows Defender. (To do so, press “Windows + I and navigate to “Update & Security,” then click the Windows Security tab on the left side.)
- Select Update and Security.
- Then, from the left, select the “Windows Security” (1) tab, followed by the “Open Windows Security” (2) button.
- Select “Virus and Threat Protection.”
- Next window, click on the “Scan Options” button, which is located directly below the Quick Scan button.
- Select “Full Scan” to remove all malware and viruses that may be causing problems in your system.
- Please wait for the scan to complete before going through the potential viruses in Protection History and either deleting or quarantining them.
- Restart Steam to see if the problem has been resolved.
4: Add your Steam app to Avast Antivirus’s “Exceptions” list.
If none of the solutions above worked, it’s possible that your third-party security software is interfering with the Steam app and preventing it from launching.
Avast is well-known among antivirus programs for being incompatible with Steam. So, if you have Avast or any other third-party antivirus software, you may want to add steam to the list of exceptions in the applications mentioned above’ settings. Follow the steps below to accomplish this:
Disclaimer: This procedure is most commonly used in Avast. Other software might or might not follow the same process.
- Navigate to the menu in the avast application.
- Select Settings.
- Go to the “General” tab and then to the “Exceptions” section.
- Click the Add an Exception button.
- In the bar, enter the path to your Steam folder. Alternatively, you can manually select it by clicking on Browse. Then select “Add Exception.”
Start your computer again. Hopefully, this will fix the problem.
5: Change the name of the.exe file.
One of the most common Windows cannot find fixes.
The .exe error occurs when the original EXE file is renamed and moved from its original location. To do this for steam, simply follow these steps:
- Navigate to the folder containing your Steam application. (By default, this is C: Program Files (x86) Steam)
- Locate and rename the main steam.exe file.
6: Uninstall any third-party antivirus software.
If adding your Steam folder to exceptions does not work, you may need to uninstall your antivirus and look for a replacement that does not flag your Steam service.
Check to see if your steam application is now operational after uninstalling and restarting the computer. If not, you may need to remove a registry key.
Deleting a registry key should always be done with caution and only in the direst of circumstances. If you made a mistake and deleted a registry that you should not have, the consequences could be irreversible. To be on the safe side, back up your registry before proceeding with this step.
If all of the preceding steps have failed and you have decided to delete or modify the registry key, carefully follow the steps below:
- Press “Windows + R”
- In the Run dialogue box, type Regedit and press okay. The registry editor on your computer will launch.
Navigate to “HKEY LOCAL MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsNTCurrentVersionImage File Execution Options”.
- If you find “Steam.exe” in the Image File Execution Options, delete it.
- Start the computer again.
Restart Steam if necessary. There’s a good chance that this solution did the trick.
If, after attempting all of the solutions listed above, trying to launch Steam still results in the same “Windows cannot find steam.exe” error. You can give it one more shot by reinstalling Steam from scratch.
This will restore all of your Steam applications and files and most likely fix the error. You must be cautious when uninstalling Steam; follow the uninstallation instructions on Steam Support to avoid losing essential game files.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.