[Fix] Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe

Windows cannot find steam.exe is the common error that every Steam user faced when double-clicking the Steam app on the desktop. You can also face this error while accessing the Steam.exe from the installation folder.

Certain factors contribute to the Windows cannot find steam.exe error. We have covered all the reasons for this error, and you can analyze the root cause and get your issue resolved.

Method #1. Revoking Admin Privileges

It is weird but sometimes Steam causes issues due to admin privileges. In this case, it gives errors, and you cannot run Steam.exe. To get this situation resolved, follow these easy steps

Go to the desktop or Steam installation folder and right-click on the Steam icon.

From the context menu, select “Properties” and click on it.

revoke admin privilege steam

Once it opens, go to the “Compatibility” tab and find “Run this program as an administrator,” and uncheck the box.

revoke admin privilege of steam

Now click OK to save the changes.

In this way, you have taken away the administrative rights from Steam.exe. Restart the computer to let the changes take effect. 

This method works for people having issues due to the admin rights. If you still see the “Windows cannot find steam.exe” error, you can proceed to the next step.

Related: [Fix] Steam Missing File Privileges Error?

Facing issues in opening steam on your PC? here is an easy fix for Steam not opening on PC.

Method #2. A Broken Shortcut File

It is not always a case with the Steam.exe not found, but a broken steam shortcut on the desktop can be a real culprit behind the error. It may not sound like an efficient solution, but specific changes to the Steam shortcut can cause this issue. 

To verify that you are getting the error because of a broken Steam shortcut, you need to access the Steam client through its installation folder. To do this, follow these steps.

  • Go to Windows Explorer and open the Steam installation directory.
  • If you have not changed the default installation location, you may find it in C: > Program Files (x86) > Steam.
  • Inside the installation folder, find the Steam.exe and run it.

If the Steam client runs from this file, there are issues with the Steam desktop shortcut, and probably it is broken. In case you still see “Windows cannot find steam.exe,” you can navigate to other methods listed here.

Related guides:

Method #3. Scan for Viruses

Computer viruses are well known for preventing the Steam application from running by blocking its access. To verify that viruses are causing the issues with the Steam app opening, you need to scan the computer for potential viruses.

You can use third-party antivirus programs like AVG, Malwarebytes, and Bitdefender. However, if you are running Windows 10, then Windows Defender is the best option that prevents you from viruses without additional costs.

We will discuss the virus removal by using Windows Defender in this guide.

To get started, open Windows Defender by searching from the Start menu or pressing the “Windows + I” combination to open “Windows Settings.” Then open “Update & Security” and navigate the “Windows Security” tab to the left side.

scan for viruses steam

Now click on “Virus & Threat Protection” to open the scanning utility.

scan for viruses in steam
  • In this window, look for the “Scan Options” under the Quick Scan button in the settings.
  • From the scan options, select “Full Scan” to eliminate all the possible viruses and threats prevailing in your computer. 
  • Depending on the hard disk size, it will take a while, so be patient and wait to detect and remove the potential viruses. 
  • After the detection, you can quarantine or delete the infected files to remove the root cause of the virus spread.
  • Once done with the cleaning, restart the computer and open Steam to check if the issue is resolved or not.

Related reads:

Method #4. Adding Exception to the Steam app in Avast

Third-party software, especially Antivirus, can interfere with the normal running of the Steam client. These security tools can detect Steam as a threat and stop it from launching and running.

Avast is one of the most renowned Antivirus to cause issues with the Steam app. If you are getting a Steam.exe missing error, then Avast or another antivirus program interferes with the app. 

You can prevent it by adding Steam to the list of exceptions in your antivirus program settings. To do it, follow these easy steps

Remember, this is a step-by-step guide only for Avast. Other third-party antivirus and security software procedures may vary.

  • Open the Avast antivirus application and go to its menu.
  • Now click on the “Settings” option.
  • Inside the settings. Open the “General” tab and proceed to the “Exceptions.”
  • Provide the Steam app or browser directory to the folder and add the Steam application to the exception list.
  • Now close Avast and restart the computer to let the changes take effect.

Method #5. Restart the Computer

restart computer steam

This may sound convincing for many people who previously ran into similar situations. Restarting the computer can resolve the issue of windows cannot find steam.exe because it resets the system to a default state and clears temporary files and cache from the computer. If this method does not work, then you can proceed to the next solution.

Method #6. Renaming the Steam.exe file

Renaming the Steam.exe file from the original installation location can resolve the issue of Steam.exe missing from the computer. The real reason behind this is still unknown. But we can use this method as long it works. To do this:

Right-click on the Steam.exe on the desktop, and from the context, menu select “Open file location.” If this method does not work for you, go directly to the Steam installation folder inside C:\ > Program File (x86) > Steam.

Locate the Steam.exe inside the installation folder and rename it.

Make sure to back up the file before renaming to avoid any issues. If it does not work, then we got you covered with other simple methods.

Method #7. Uninstalling the Antivirus

Most of the time, adding Steam to the exception list works fine. Still, sometimes it is not enough and requires a total uninstallation of the third-party antivirus service because Antivirus are notorious for flagging wrong programs on their malicious file list.

To get rid of the Windows cannot find Steam.exe issue, you need to uninstall the third-party Antivirus services. 

unistall antivirus steam

Go to Windows “Settings” and navigate to the “System.”

Open “Apps & Features” from the left panel and find your Antivirus, and uninstall it.

Once done with the uninstalling, restart the PC and observe if your issue got resolved or not.

Method #8. Playing with Registry Key

This is one of the risky methods as it involves modifying and deleting the registry key inside the Windows registry editor. However, this method should be used as the final solution because it can include complications, and you can mess with wrong registry files. To do it a lot more on the safer side, backup your registry before proceeding with this method.

You have to follow the exact steps to avoid any issues with your computer registry.

To open the Windows registry editor, press “Windows Key + R.”

regedit steam

Inside the dialogue box, type “Regedit” and press OK. It will open the Windows registry editor.

Now got to the exact path “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.”

regedit steam registry

Next, select “SOFTWARE” and proceed to the “Microsoft.”

Next open “Windows NT” and choose “CurrentVersion.”

Inside the current version, choose “Image File Execution Options.”

Now look for the Steam.exe inside the Image File Execution Options and delete it.

Once done with deletion, restart the computer.

Observe if the issues have been resolved or persist by opening Steam.exe.

Method #8. Using the DISM Tool

DISM tool is the last place to look for resolving the Steam.exe not found error. It involves running a bunch of commands inside the CMD to get the job done. For doing it

Press “Windows Key + R” to open the run dialogue for the windows.

Now type CMD inside the dialogue box and press OK.

You can press “Shift + Ctrl + Enter” to open it as administrator.

Once it is open one by one enter these commands and execute them.

sfc /scannow

dism tool for steam

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Scanhealth

dism tool for steam 1

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

dism tool for steam 2

DISM.exe /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup

dism tool for steam 3

Executing these commands with resolve the Steam.exe not found errors.


All the above methods work fine for dealing with the Steam.exe not found error. However, if you still are not getting your error resolved, the best solution is to uninstall the Steam from the computer and reinstall it. This will replace the old files with fresh ones and hopefully address the issue.

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Muhammad Kashif

M. Kashif is a published author at Gaming Expert.net. He is a tech enthusiast, a passionate gamer and loves to try new gadgets and writing about games and technology events.