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What is an exe file?

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Files with the EXE extension are executable files that are used in operating systems such as Windows, MS-DOS, OpenVMS, and ReactOS to open software programs.

The name of the software installer is usually setup.exe or install.exe. But application files have their own names, often associated with software program names. Have you ever watched while downloading the Firefox web browser. The file name to install is usually Firefox Setup.exe. But once installed, it will open with the firefox.exe file, which is located in the program’s installation directory.

Some EXE files can be files that self-extract their contents to a specific folder when opened. Such as for quick decompression of a collection of files or for installing portable programs.

EXE files can be dangerous

Lots of malware bypasses EXE files, often in the background of seemingly safe programs. This infection occurs when a program that you think is authenticated launches a running computer code that is corrupted without your knowledge. In fact, these programs may be real but will contain viruses or completely fake software with a known and harmless name.

Therefore, as with any executable file extension, be careful when opening EXE files that you download from the Internet or receive via email. EXE files are so destructive that most email providers don’t allow them to be sent and some don’t even allow you to put files in a ZIP archive and send them. Just a reminder, make sure you trust the sender of the EXE file before opening it.

Another thing to remember about EXE files: they are only used for launching applications. So if you download a file that you think is a video file, for example, but has an .EXE file extension, you should delete it immediately. Videos that you download from the Internet are usually in MP4, MKV, or AVI file format, but never in EXE format. The same rules apply to images, documents, and all other file types. Each one uses its own set of file extensions.

An important step in minimizing any damage caused by a malicious EXE file is to keep your antivirus software up to date.

How to open an EXE file

EXE files don’t require a program to open because Windows knows how to handle them. However, EXE files sometimes become unusable due to registry errors or virus infection. If you experience an event like this, Windows is tricked into using another program. Like Notepad, to open EXE files, and of course this is not possible. The fix for this problem involves restoring the correct association from the registry to the EXE file.

Some EXE files are self-extracting archives. This EXE file can be automatically extracted to a specific location or even the same folder from which the EXE file is opened. Other files may ask where you want to extract content.

If you want to open a self-extracting EXE file without wasting the file, use a file extractor such as 7-Zip, PeaZip or jZip. For example, if you are using 7-Zip, just right-click on the EXE file and choose to open it with this program to view the EXE file as an archive.

Programs like 7-Zip can also create self-extracting archives in the EXE format. You can do this by selecting 7z as the archive format and enabling the Create SFX archive option.

How to open EXE files on Mac

The first thing you should do when you have a program you want to use on your Mac that is only available as an installer or an EXE program is to see if there is a regular Mac version of the program available.

Assuming a regular version isn’t available (this usually happens). Another popular option is to run Windows itself from within the macOS computer using an emulator or virtual machine.

This type of program mimics a Windows PC, allowing them to install Windows EXE-based programs. Some of the popular Windows emulators include Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion, or Apple’s Boot Camp.

The free WineBottler program is another way to solve this problem for Windows programs on Mac. With this tool, you won’t need an emulator or virtual machine anymore.

How to convert EXE files

EXE format files are created using a specific operating system. Compiling the files used in Windows creates a lot of files that are compatible with Windows only. So converting an EXE file to a format that makes it usable on other platforms like Mac would be a tedious job.

Instead of looking for an EXE converter, look for another version of the software available for the operating system you want to use. CCleaner is a sample program that you can download for Windows as an EXE or on Mac as a DMG file.

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