Fix Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe

March 4, 2020 By Harsh Clif
Fix Windows Cannot Find Steam .exe

Windows cannot find Steam.exe is an error message that appears when you try to open the Steam client through the desktop shortcut on Windows 10 or other versions of the OS. This error also appears if you try to open Steam using the .exe file in the installed folder. Your basic troubleshooting will reveal there is nothing wrong with the file, still, when you launch Steam the error persists.

Steam is an indispensable application for gamers using the PC, so naturally, this can hinder your gaming experience. Persistent problem can keep you away from gaming for weeks. Users who have the Avast antivirus installed on their system face this issue most often. So, what is causing the Steam error? Here are some of the causes that lead to Windows not being able to detect the .exe.

Causes of Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe Error

Two reasons primarily attribute to the Windows cannot find Steam .exe error – malware and the Avast antivirus program.

  1. Malware Infection: Malware is the most common cause users have found behind the Windows being unable to detect the Steam .exe. There are malware programs that hinder certain processes such as the ability of the OS to launch certain admin-level programs. To fix this issue, you can try removing the admin privilege to the Steam client, but that is a temporary solution. An antivirus scan to remove the malware is the most effective solution to fix the Steam client error if it’s caused due to malware infection.
  2. Avast Antivirus Software: Avast is known to be incompatible with Steam, although there is a wide range of issues when you have the two programs installed on your PC, the widespread error is the Windows cannot find Steam .exe. The easiest fix is to change your antivirus; however, you can also add an exception in Avast for Steam that resolves the error. Deleting certain registry entry has also worked for a lot of users.

Here are the solutions you can try.

Fix 1: Remove the Admin Permission to the Steam Client

Removing the admin permission is a temporary fix and recommended for users who are desperate to open the Steam client. However, it only works if a specific type of malware has infected your system that prevents programs with admin access from opening. To remove the admin privilege from Steam follow the below steps.

admin access to Steam
  1. Right-click on the Desktop shortcut of Steam and select Properties
  2. Click on the Compatibility tab and uncheck Run this program as an administrator
  3. Click Apply and OK.

Fix 2: Run a Virus Scan

If you encounter the Windows cannot find Steam .exe error, the first line of action is to conduct a virus scan. You may not suspect this, but most users reported that the problem was fixed once they performed a virus scan to remove the malware. Users are unsuspecting because they do not imagine that malware could only infect the Steam client.

To perform a virus scan first download an antivirus program online, you can select any of the reliable software available in the market. I personally rely on Kaspersky, but in the US this software might not be available. Some of the top antiviruses in the market include the Norton Security, Bitdefender, MacAfee, and Avast. However, since Avast is incompatible with Steam you might want to avoid it for this particular circumstance.

Once you have installed the software, perform a system scan. Most software does it automatically after the first install, so wait for the process to complete and try starting the Steam client.

Fix 3: Disable Avast

If you have Avast antivirus software installed on your PC, malware might not be the culprit but the Avast antivirus itself. Avast is pretty effective in eliminating any malware attacks, so malware infection is not a concern. Try disabling the Avast antivirus to check if Steam runs normally.

Fix 4: Set Exception on Avast Antivirus

Antivirus is an important software that keeps your computer safe from malicious people and software, so you cannot have the Avast disabled for long. If the Steam client works and the error Windows cannot find Steam .exe does not appear the problem is with the Avast antivirus. But you cannot have the software disabled for long. Don’t worry there is a workaround. You can set an exception that prevents Avast from blocking Steam client and fixes the issue hundred percent. Here are the steps you need to take to set an exception for Steam on Avast antivirus.

  • Open the Avast Antivirus and Click on Menu on the top right corner.
  • From the menu, go to Settings > General
  • Select Exceptions and click on ADD EXCEPTION
  • Click on Browse
  • Go to Local Disk C > Program Files (x86)
  • Locate and select the folder named Steam
  • Click Ok.

There you have it, this should work the magic and you should be able to access Steam.

Fix 5: Change the Antivirus Program

If the error is still not resolved you may want to consider uninstalling the Avast antivirus and using some other software. To uninstall the software follow the same process you would to uninstall any other software. Go to the Control Panel > Uninstall a program > Locate and right-click on Avast > Select Uninstall/Change > follow the on-screen instructions to uninstall the program. Now, try checking if the Windows cannot find Steam .exe error has been resolved.  

Fix 6: Delete a Registry Value

If none of the above steps have been effective in resolving the Windows cannot find Steam .exe error, you may want to delete a certain registry value associated with Avast to fix the issue. We recommend that you back up the registry before performing the steps. However, if you follow the steps exactly as instructed nothing bad will affect the stability of the system. Here are the steps to follow.

  1. Open the Run dialogue box by pressing Windows Key + I
  2. Type regedit and hit enter
  3. Confirm with Yes to open the Registry Editor
  4. Follow the below path
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options
  • In the Image File Execution Options, find the Steam.exe, right-click and select Delete.
  • Now exit the Registry Editor and try opening Steam, the Windows cannot find Steam .exe error should have disappeared.

The five fixes we have covered in this post has resolved the Steam error for most users. If you face other errors like the Steam Content File Locked or if you are having difficulty accessing the Steam Screenshot Folder, you can read our other blogs. Do let us know in comments, what fixes that worked for you are and what did not pan out.

TIP: If none of the methods have resolved the issue for you, we recommend using CCleaner which can reduce errors & crashes, besides speeding up the system.

We are always eager to hear from you and update our post including your recommendation citing your contribution.