10 Fixes For Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe Error

Steam is currently one of the top names when it comes to online gaming platforms. It offers an amazing list of features and a huge collection of video games. But, lately, a lot of users have been complaining about the Windows cannot find Steam.exe error. It is usually witnessed when the user attempts to launch the Steam platform through the Steam desktop shortcut.

But, there also have been cases wherein users have had issues trying to open the Steam app from its original location. If you too are facing this error, then, keep reading to find out how to get rid of the Windows cannot find Steam.exe error message.

Causes Behind Windows Cannot Find Steam.Exe Error

It is natural to ponder the question “Why can’t my PC find Steam.exe” after getting the error. Now, that could be caused due to a variety of reasons. We have analyzed the case studies of several users who had encountered this error. In doing so, we have concluded that the following are the most common reasons why you get the Windows cannot find steam.exe error:

  1. Problem With Source Files
  2. Admin Permissions
  3. Registry Issue
  4. Virus Infection
  5. Antivirus Program
  6. Temporary Files
  7. Steam Installation
  8. Problem With Source Files

You might not be able to access the steam.exe file from its shortcut placed on your desktop. Now, the shortcut won’t function properly if the files in the origin folder are not corrupted and working fine.

If there has been a case of incomplete installation or virus infection, some of the original source data of Steam.exe might not be present. As a result, your Windows OS is unable to open the Steam app.

  • Admin Permissions

Using steam.exe without admin privileges might also be a reason behind the Windows can’t find Steam.exe error. Many users have the administrative privileges granted to Steam and that can trigger issues. So, you need to turn off those admin privileges.

  • Registry Issue

Sometimes, the registry entry for Steam could get corrupted or mixed up. In this case, you can get the Windows cannot find Steam.exe.

  • Virus Infection

In some cases, your computer might be corrupted by a virus or malware that somehow got downloaded into your system. Due to this reason, the Windows OS will have a problem identifying the real Steam application. So, if a virus or malware is disguising itself as Steam, the Windows OS won’t be able to identify it.

  • Antivirus Program

If your antivirus program malfunctions and raises a false alarm, that might lead to Steam being identified as a virus or malware. If that is the case, Steam might get blocked, and the “Windows cannot find Steam.exe” error will come up.

  • Temporary Files

Sometimes, some temporary files stored on your system could get corrupted and that might lead Steam to act up. As a result, you could get the Windows cannot find Steam.exe.

  • Steam Installation

If Steam hasn’t been installed properly on your system, that too can give you the Windows cannot find Steam.exe error. Other than that, if the Steam installation on your system is old or corrupted, some files might be missing and that can lead to the Windows cannot find Steam.exe error.

10 Methods To Fix The “Windows Cannot Find Steam.Exe” Error

  1. Check If The Steam Shortcut Is Broken
  2. Restart Your Computer
  3. Remove Admin Privileges From Steam
  4. Scan Your System For Viruses
  5. Add Steam to Exception List of Avast Antivirus
  6. Rename The .exe File
  7. Uninstall Third-Party Antivirus Software
  8. Delete The Associated Registry Key
  9. Using The SFC Scan And DISM Tool
  10. Reinstall Steam

Method #1. Check If The Steam Shortcut Is Broken

Perhaps, you get the Windows can’t find steam.exe because its desktop shortcut is broken. Making some alterations to this broken shortcut can remedy the issue. First, let’s check if the issue is due to a broken shortcut or not. Follow the steps given below to do so:

  1. Open the File Explorer and look for the Steam installation directory
  2. If the default location of Steam installation hasn’t been changed, go to the C: drive, then, click on Program Files (x86). Then, choose Steam.
  3. Now, enter the installation folder and run the Steam.exe file by double-clicking on it.

In case, the Steam client runs properly from the aforementioned file, then the problem lies with your Steam desktop shortcut.

Method #2. Restart Your Computer

Some Windows errors are temporary and can be caused due to some glitch. Usually, when you restart your Windows, the temporary files and cache data get cleared out and so, your system goes back to a default state. So, perhaps, your steam.exe file error was temporary and it will get removed when you restart your computer.

Method #3. Remove Admin Privileges From Steam

Sometimes, steam.exe can go missing because of admin privileges. And so, you get errors and steam.exe won’t run. Follow the steps given below to remove the admin permissions:

  • Right-click on the Steam icon on the desktop
  • From the dropdown menu, click on “Properties.”
click on properties from the dropdown menu
  • In the Steam Properties window, navigate to the Compatibility tab and look for Run this program as an administrator checkbox. Uncheck it if it is marked.
remove admin privileges from steam
  • Click on Apply and then on the OK button. This will remove the administrative privileges from Steam.exe.
click on apply and then on ok
  • Then, restart your computer and allow the changes to apply.

Method #4. Scan Your System For Viruses

If your system is infected with viruses, that too can prevent the Steam.exe from running. Windows might be having a hard time between a virus disguised as the Steam app and the actual Steam app.

So, you can scan your computer for viruses because that might be blocking Windows access to the Steam app. If you have any antivirus software installed on your computer like Avast, Malwarebytes, etc, you can scan your system using that software. Else, try using Windows Defender to prevent viruses.

Here are the steps you need to follow to scan your computer for viruses using Windows Defender:

  • Press the Windows + I keys to open the Windows Settings.
  • Click on Update & Security and go to the Windows Security tab in the left panel.
click on update and security option
click on windows security from the left panel
  • Click on “Virus & Threat Protection”
click on virus and threat protection option
  • Find the Scan Options located underneath the Quick Scan button from the settings.
  • Now, in the scan options, find “Full Scan” to scan your system for viruses and remove them.
click on full scan from scan options
  • Wait for the process to finish. Once the scan is done, you can quarantine or delete all the infected files.
scan your system for viruses
  • Restart your system and open the Steam app again to check if the problem was resolved or not.

Method #5. Add Steam to Exception List of Avast Antivirus

Sometimes, third-party software might affect the running of the Steam.exe file. This is all the more likely if the third-party software is an antivirus software like Avast.

Users have often reported that Avast causes problems with the running of your Steam app. Hence, the Steam.exe file may be missing an error is showing because a third-party program is interfering with it.

Don’t worry because this is preventable by adding Steam.exe to your antivirus software’s list of exceptions. This way you can run both these apps on your computer. Follow the steps given below to do so:

  • Open your Avast antivirus app and visit the Menu section.
click on menu in the Avast window
  • Select the Settings option from the menu
click on settings from the avast menu
  • Go to the General tab and click on Exceptions
go to the general tab
click on exceptions from the dropdown menu
  • Click on Add Exception
click on add exception
  • Click on Browse and select the Steam.exe file. Then, click on OK.
click on the browse button
scroll down and select steam
  • Click on Add Exception. This will add the Steam app to the Exceptions list of Avast
add steam to the exception list of avast
  • Close the Avast window and restart your system to allow the changes to apply.

Method #6. Rename The .exe File

Many users have claimed that they have fixed the issue by renaming the steam.exe file. To execute this, go through the steps given below:

  1. Right-click on the Steam icon on your desktop.
  2. From the dropdown context menu, click on “Open file location.”
  3. If the above step doesn’t work, visit the Steam installation folder: C: > Program Files (x86) > Steam
  4. Look for the Steam.exe file in the installation folder and make a backup of it.
  5. Right-click on the steam.exe file and click on rename to rename it.

Method #7. Uninstall Third-Party Antivirus Software

As mentioned before, you can work around the “Windows cannot find steam.exe” error by adding it to the Exceptions list of your third-party antivirus software.

But, if that’s not working, you might need to uninstall the antivirus software. The reason is that third-party antivirus software like Avast is known for flagging the wrong files and it’s better if you uninstall it.

To uninstall your Avast antivirus software or any other third-party antivirus software, follow the steps given below:

  1. Open the Windows “Settings” and go to the “System.”
  2. Open the “Apps & Features” section from the left side.
  3. Look for your antivirus software and uninstall it.
uninstall third party antivirus software
  1. Once you have uninstalled the antivirus, restart your system and check if the problem got fixed or not.

Method #8. Delete The Associated Registry Key

Messing with Windows Registry is always a bit risky. So, you can go for this fix as one of the last resort. Also, be very cautious because if you alter the wrong registry files, it can lead to more issues. As a precautionary measure, backup your registry before you start with the solution. Follow the steps given below to avoid causing issues:

  1. Press the Windows + R keys to open the Run utility
  2. Type in “regedit” from here and click on OK. This opens the Windows Registry Editor
  3. Visit the exact path now, “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.”
  4. Click on “SOFTWARE” and then, select Microsoft
  5. Then, go to Windows NT and select CurrentVersion
  6. From the current version, click on Image File Execution Options
  7. Find the Steam.exe file in the Image File Execution Options and then, delete it
  8. Once done, restart your PC and check if you can open Steam.exe now.

Method #9. Using The SFC Scan And DISM Tool

This is yet another final resort you could try. The DISM tool is capable of fixing a lot of problems. Follow the given steps to do so:

  1. Press the Windows + R keys to open the Run utility
  2. Type in cmd in the dialogue box and click on OK.
  3. Press the Shift + Ctrl + Enter keys to open the command prompt with admin privileges.
  4. Enter the following commands and press the Enter key after each of these:
sfc /scannow,
DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Scanhealth
DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
DISM.exe /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup
  1. Restart the computer once you are done executing the commands and check if the Windows cannot find steam.exe issue is gone or not.

Method #10. Reinstall Steam

  1. Navigate to the following location and create a copy of the steamapps folder as a backup:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam

  1. Press the Windows + R keys to open the Run utility and type in “appwiz.cpl.” Click on OK.
Run wizard
  1. Right-click on Steam and click on Uninstall. A prompt will come up, click on Uninstall.
Uninstall steam
Install steam
  1. Wait for the uninstallation to finish and then, reboot your computer.
  2. Go to the official Steam website and download the Steam desktop client app.
download steam client
  1. Double-click on the downloaded Steam file and follow the on-screen instructions to install Steam on your computer.
  2. Once the Steam client gets installed, copy steamapps folder that was created earlier. Paste the folder in your Steam directory. In doing so, the backup of steamapps replaces the new steamapps folder.
  3. Now, check if Windows cannot find Steam. Exe error is gone or not.


Hopefully, the above solutions have helped you get rid of the Windows cannot find Steam.exe error. If most of the solutions given in this article didn’t help solve the error, you can try reinstalling Steam from the scratch.

This will freshly reinstall the Steam app, its files, and fix the Windows can’t find steam.exe error too. Also, make sure you follow the uninstallation process carefully so that you don’t delete any game-related files. 


How do I fix the “Steam application not found” error?

You can try closing all Steam.exe related processes from the Taskbar, clearing the Steam cache, and then, uninstalling and reinstalling Steam.

How do I fix Steam not opening on Windows 10?

Some of the solutions to try out, in this case, include restarting your computer, restarting the Steam client, running Steam with admin privileges, etc. Other than that, you can also try updating date and time settings and run troubleshooting tools.