Fix Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe error

Running into an error message that says “Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe” when you’re trying to launch Steam can be quite a bummer, especially if you were all set to dive into your favorite game. This error usually pops up because your computer is having trouble locating the Steam application file needed to open the program. It might sound complicated, but don’t worry!

There are several reasons why this might happen, like issues with shortcuts, Steam updates not installing correctly, or even antivirus software getting a bit too protective. In this article, we’ll walk you through some simple steps to troubleshoot and fix the “Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe” error. Let’s get your gaming plans back on track with some easy solutions!

Fix Windows Cannot Find Steam

How to Fix Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe error

Why can’t my Windows find Steam.exe?

Your PC’s inability to find Steam could be caused by various reasons. One of the top reasons for this issue is the absence of proper source files. Shortcuts only function properly if all the files in their origin folder are in order. Incomplete installations and malware can eat up some of Steam’s original file data, resulting in this bizarre error. Additionally, even some antivirus programs, especially Avast, seem to have a lot of trouble accepting Steam as a safe application and therefore keep preventing the app from running. Regardless of the nature of the issue, the Windows cannot find Steam.exe error can be fixed by following the methods mentioned below.

Method 1: Open Steam from its Original Location

Despite a ton of new security features on Windows, defective shortcuts are still a big menace. These shortcuts could give you the illusion that the app exists, but in reality, hold no ties to the original software. To make sure that Steam opens properly, try opening the app from its source file.

1. Most of the time, the installation folder of Steam is located in the C drive.

2. Here, open the folder that reads Program Files (x86).

Here open program files x86 | Fix Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe

3. This will open the source files of all the applications installed on your PC. Scroll down to find and open the Steam folder.

Open Steam folder

4. Within this folder, find the ‘Steam’ application and run it. If it still does not open, try renaming the app to something else and run it again. This seems like an unlikely tip, but once renamed, the app is overlooked by many threatening applications on your PC and the ‘Windows cannot find Steam.exe’ error should be fixed.

In the folder, open the Steam source application

Also Read: 12 Ways to Fix Steam Won’t Open Issue

Method 2: Scan for Potential Malware

Malware and viruses could prevent your Windows from recognizing the Steam app and opening it. If you have a dedicated antivirus, run it to see if you can discover any threats. Additionally, you can use the Windows security feature to solve the issue.

1. In the Settings application of your PC, open the Update & Security.

In settings, click on update and security | Fix Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe

2. On the panel on the left side, click on Windows Security.

On the panel on the left side, click on Windows security

3. Under the section titled, Protection Areas, click on Virus and threat protection.

Under protection areas, click on Virus and threat protection

4. Scroll down to the Current threat section and under the Quick scan button, click on Scan options.

Under current threats, click on scan options | Fix Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe

5. Under scan options, select the Full Scan option and click on Scan Now.

Select the full scan option and run it

6. Your entire system will be scanned and any potential threats will be eliminated. Reboot and start Steam again to see if Windows is able to find Steam.exe.

Note: If you aren’t satisfied with the performance of Windows security, you can use Malwarebytes, an app aimed specifically at removing threatening malware from your PC.

Method 3: Create an Exception in Avast Antivirus

Avast is one of the few antivirus applications that has caused severe troubles for Steam. The reason for the feud is unknown, but for Avast, Steam appears to be a corruptible virus that will potentially wreck the system. Here’s how you can create an exception for Steam and ensure that Avast does not prevent Windows from finding the executable file.

1. Open the application and on the top left corner, click on Menu.

In avast, click on menu in top right corner | Fix Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe

2. From the options that appear, click on ‘Settings.’

Here, click on Settings

3. Under the General category in Settings, select Exceptions and click on Add exception.

In the general category, select exceptions and click on add exceptions

4. A small window will appear, asking you to specify the location of the folder you want to add as an exception. Here, click on Browse and find the Steam folder in the C drive under Program Files (x86).

In the add exception window, browse for the steam folder and add it | Fix Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe

5. Steam should be added as an exception and the Windows cannot find Steam.exe error should be fixed.

Method 4: Delete Steam Value from Windows Registry

Deleting a registry value is a serious process, but if done correctly, it has proven to be the most successful method of all. Due to the complications caused by malware and antivirus applications; Steam could end up appearing on a list it is not supposed to. Therefore, deleting the registry value, in this case, is a safe and valid option.

1. On the Windows search bar, look for the Registry Editor application and open it.

On windows search menu, look for registry editor

2. Open the application and in the small address bar, below the options, paste the following address:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options

3. A bunch of files will be displayed under the Image File Execution Options. Look for the folder titled Steam.exe and right-click on it.

Type in the following address to open Image File Execution options | Fix Windows Cannot Find Steam.exe

4. From the options that appear, click on ‘Delete’ to remove the folder from the list.

5. Once the folder is deleted, reboot the PC and run the Steam application again. Chances are the Windows cannot find Steam.exe error will be fixed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How do I get Steam.exe?

Another way to get the Steam.exe app is to look for it in its original location. Open the C Drive on your PC and go to Program Files (x86) > Steam. Here, you will find the Steam.exe application. Right-click on it to copy and paste the shortcut on the desktop based on your convenience.

Q2. How do I fix missing EXE in Steam?

The ‘Windows cannot find Steam.exe’ error is caused usually caused by malware and viruses affecting your PC. Use your antivirus software to remove any potential threats. If you use Avast, try creating an exception for Steam, so that it can function smoothly.


Steam has had its fair share of errors and the ‘Cannot find Steam.exe’ just adds to the list. However, with the steps mentioned above, you should be able to get rid of the issue with ease and resume gaming on the world’s leading video game manager.

We hope that this guide was helpful and you were able to fix Windows cannot find Steam.exe error on your PC. If you find yourself struggling during the process, reach out to us through the comments and we will help you out.

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