How Windows plays “let’s pretend”…

By | March 7, 2016
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I’ve had a couple of questions come up recently that I thought were worth including in here – one of them was something I was able to help with because I knew about it and the other was something I hadn’t heard of – but managed to find out about. So I got to learn something new too!

First of all, the thing I knew about:

Compatibility mode – useful for programs that won’t work properly
Sometimes, when you switch to a newer version to Windows, or even when you get an automatic update, you can find that a program you had that worked before now won’t work.

It’s frustrating because it used to be fine… and then suddenly it’s not.

A lot of the time it’s because it’s not compatible with the newer version of Windows. This has happened to quite a few people when they upgraded to Windows 10.

Luckily, there’s a way around it. You can get Windows to pretend it’s an older version – just for this particular program. And a lot of the time, that’ll get the program working again.

Compatibility mode is built into all the modern versions of Windows, so if you do have programs that won’t run, this is worth trying.

What you do is right click on the shortcut you use to run the program – eg in the start menu or on the desktop (but not the taskbar across the bottom of the screen).

Select properties from the little pop-up menu that appears. Then click on the “compatibility” tab. Then you can click to turn on compatibility mode and choose what version of Windows you want it to pretend to be. (If you’re not sure, you can try different options and see if any of them help.)

Then try clicking / double clicking on the icon as normal and see if it’ll now run.

You can also try clicking on the “run as administrator” box there, too. Some older programs run better with that ticked.

I’m not saying it always works, but it often does – definitely worth trying if you’re having trouble with a program.

Printing graph paper
I also had a question about some HP printers. They used to include a feature where it could automatically print out blank graph paper, so you don’t have to go to the shop to buy it. It could be handy not only for supplies for a young one’s homework, but for things like planning the layout of a room or thinking about where to put an extension… or even planning a garden.

Unfortunately, although HP still have this feature in some of their printers, they’ve made it harder to use – you have to sign up to some other program to access it.

But while I was looking into it, I found this website. It lets you choose what size graph paper you want and print it out – no matter what type of printer you have.

Could be handy if you ever want to plan out a room or anything similar.

Oh, and the videos about using your tablets I’ve been mentioning lately should be in stock later this week – if you haven’t ordered them and are thinking about it, you can read more about them here.  (And no, the photo isn’t me!)

4 thoughts on “How Windows plays “let’s pretend”…


    is there a way to load a program that worked well in XP, & 7, also well in compatible mode on windows 8.1 but can not load in windows 10, so therefore can not click onto properties ?

    1. Tim Post author

      Do you mean you can’t even install it, so never get to the point where you’re trying to actually run it? If so, you can use similar compatibility options to try to let the installation program run.
      When you pop the CD in, if it asks if you want to run it, don’t.
      Instead start up you need to go into FIle explorer – the one on the taskbar that looks like a pale yellow folder.
      Then go intot he CD and find the program it’s running – usually called something like “setup”. Right click on it and you can choose the compatibility mode as above.

      This may help with installing it – but once it’s done, you’ll need to also set compatibility mode to actually run the program, like in the article.

      Hope that helps.

  2. John Nettleton

    Your tip on compatibility justifies your existence. Changing to Windows 7 I lost my ability to put fancy borders round the birthday cards I made for everyone for which I was justly famous. You have remedied the situation and I am back on my old and much better version of Serif Page Plus 8. You have made an old man very happy!!

    1. Tim Post author

      Thanks for the kind comments!
      It’s one of those little tricks that is a bit hidden away because most of the time, you don’t need it – but when you do need it, it can make a big difference!


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