Learning About Application Compatibility Mode in Windows

Yesterday, I wrote about an old game that was a favourite of mine back in school, WinTrek as well as some nostalgia from that time of my life. Anyway, with games written for really old operating systems like Windows 3.11 or Windows 95 you might need to tweak things a little bit to get these sorts of application running on the likes of Windows Vista and Windows 7.

While Windows 7 is a lot better in automatically working out the right compatibility settings sometimes you need to manually adjust them yourself.

Basically, it involves you finding the specific application file on your drive after which you need to right click on it and then left click on “Properties”.  Across the top you will see a number of tabs and then one you are interested in is the “Compatibility” tab. You should then see something similar to this screen:

Application Properties (Compatibility Tab)

Application Properties (Compatibility Tab)

In order to enable compatibility mode, you’ll need to tick the box next to “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” which then activates the dropdown menu. Depending on your version of Windows, you may have some or all of the options shown in the next screenshot:

Application Properties (Compatibility Tab - Dropdown List)

Application Properties (Compatibility Tab - Dropdown List)

In the example of WinTrek from yesterday, you would want to choose the option for “Windows 95” (as that’s the closest thing to Windows 3.11). You might also want to tick “Run this program as an administrator” to properly recreate the default environment in which applications ran under Windows 3.11 and 95 (which didn’t really have a concept of limited account access due to their reliance upon a version of DOS underneath). Optionally, you can click on “Change settings for all users” to propagate these settings for all users on the machine before clicking “OK”.

You might not use this much but it’s worth knowing about just in case.


1 ping

    • Mark on August 2, 2011 at 16:16
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    If you are running Mac OS or Linux you could try DOSBox for all old games that run only on DOS.

    1. DOSBox is definitely good tip for those hardcore DOS gamers out there! In fact, some Steam games are delivered in a DOSBox container like Doom 2 🙂

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