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Windows 7 tips and tweaks

Run old programs in compatibility mode

Windows 7 is pretty good at running old software and it doesn't have many problems with programs written for previous versions of Windows like Vista and XP. If you do come across a program that doesn't work, you should try two things. First, try running it in administrator more and second, try running it in compatibility mode.

Both of these options are available in the same dialog box and what you should do is to right click the program on the Start menu and select Properties from the context menu that is displayed. Select the Compatibility tab in the dialog that appears.

Right down at the bottom of the dialog is an option to run the program as an administrator. This has nothing to do with whether you are logged on to Windows with an administrator account.

Windows compatibility modeAlthough you might be logged on as an administrator, programs are not run in administrator mode unless you specifically specify it and they are run as a standard user. (It's a security feature.)

Tick the administrator box and try the program again. If it now works, then the problem is solved, but if the program is still not running right in Windows 7 you can try one of the compatibility modes.

Tick the box at the top of the dialog: Run this program in compatibility mode for, and then select the most recent version of Windows that the program is fully compatible with.

If it was designed for XP, then choose Windows XP (Service Pack 3), or if it's a Vista program then choose Windows Vista (original, Service Pack 1 and Service Pack 2 are available).

Compatibility mode actually goes as far back as Windows 95, but it doesn't seem likely that you'll have any 15-year-old programs lying around. Anyway, the option is there if you do.

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