Fix the error of not being able to install software on Windows 10

Wondering why you can’t install any apps on Windows 10? It will be annoying when the software cannot be installed on Windows 10, the software installer does not run, an error code appears, or sometimes the software works normally but then does not work.

Here are the ways to fix errors worth trying to fix the error of not installing software in Windows.

Restart the computer

This is a common troubleshooting step, but it’s important for a reason. The reason that the software is not being installed on your computer could be due to a temporary glitch. Before moving on to episode fixes, you should reboot to get back to steady state.

If you still can’t install software after the reboot, continue troubleshooting with the next steps.

Check App Installer Settings in Windows

Windows 10 lets you install both traditional desktop apps and apps from the Microsoft Store. Certain settings will restrict you from installing only Store apps, so it’s a good idea to check those out first.

To do this, go to Settings > Apps > Apps & features. At the top you will see the section Choose where to get apps. If the drop-down menu is set to The Microsoft Store only (recommended) then you won’t be able to install apps from anywhere else. This prevents you from installing traditional Windows desktop software.

Change this setting to Anywhere (or Anywhere, but let me know if there’s a comparable app in the Microsoft Store if you like) and Windows will no longer block you from installing software.

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If you are using an older version of Windows 10, you should also check the same setting in settings > Update & Security > For developers. Here, under the Use developer features, make sure you have selected Sideload apps. Choose Sideload apps may cause problems with normal software installation.

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On modern versions of Windows 10, you won’t see these three options. Instead, you’ll see a Developer Mode slider. This feature is not required to install apps on Windows 10, so you can leave it disabled. Enabling the feature while you’re troubleshooting doesn’t make any difference, but you can turn it off again once everything is up and running.

Finally, if you’re in Windows 10 S Mode, you can only install apps from the Microsoft Store. You can also easily exit S Mode in Windows 10 at no cost.

See the instructions How to enter Safe Mode on Windows 10

Run the Installer using Run as administrator

Thanks to User Account Control (UAC) in Windows, your account only uses administrative privileges when necessary. Since most software requires administrator rights to install, you will often see a UAC prompt when trying to install a new application.

If you only install one app for your existing account, you may not need administrator permissions. But installing software that is available to all users will require administrator approval. Make sure that you have not disabled UAC, or the prompt for administrator permissions may not appear.

Sometimes UAC prompt approval won’t work properly. You may get an error that the installer cannot write to a certain directory or may refuse to run. In these cases, you should run the installer as administrator manually.
To do this, close the installer dialog box if it is open, then right-click the installer file and select Run as administrator. After granting admin rights, try the installer again and see if it succeeds.

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Check your app’s 64-bit compatibility

A lot of software offers both 32-bit and 64-bit options. 64-bit software is only compatible with 64-bit versions of Windows. However, 32-bit applications will run on both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows, because 64-bit Windows is backward compatible.

Most of the cases, the software will automatically choose the right version to install on your system, or will just install as 32-bit if that’s the only option available. If you have a modern computer, it’s probably 64-bit, meaning this shouldn’t be an issue. But if you are not sure about this, you should find out if your computer has 64-bit Windows.

Once you know exactly which version of Windows you have, follow the software download pages and make sure to download the version that is compatible with your system. x86 refers to 32-bit, while x64 means 64-bit. It is absolutely not recommended to download 64-bit software on a 32-bit system, because it will certainly not run.

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Run Troubleshooters

Windows 10 includes a number of built-in troubleshooting tools to try to detect and fix common problems. The tools don’t always work well, but they are worth a try when the software can’t be installed on Windows 10 for some reason.

To access the program installation-related troubleshooter, go to Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot and click Additional troubleshooters. Here, let’s run Program Compatibility Troubleshooter and see if it fixes any issues.

You can also run the Windows Store Apps tool if you’re having trouble installing Store Apps.

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Uninstall old versions of software

Most of the time, installing an app update (even if it’s a new major version) goes smoothly. But sometimes, installing an old version of a program can cause problems when you try to install the latest version.

If you still cannot install software properly on Windows, go to Settings > Apps > Apps & features and uninstall the current version of the software. This won’t delete any data you’ve saved in the app, but you may want to back up any settings or other important information first just in case.

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Review your antivirus settings

Sometimes, anti-virus software or anti-malware software can prevent the software from installing on Windows. These software can be helpful or cause the software to fail to install on Windows 10 depending on the case.

In some cases, you may be trying to install a program that is actually malware. When anti-virus software detects this, it will block you from installing that application. But if you have turned off notifications from your anti-virus software, you may not see this warning. Try opening your security suite and check the recent alerts to find out if that’s the case.

If you suspect that a program you want to install contains malware, you should scan it with an online virus scanner. Of course, avoid installing anything infected with viruses. If it’s a tool you used to trust, it’s possible the app has been hijacked or you downloaded a bad copy from a shady website.

However, your anti-virus software can also cause problems. It can prevent legitimate programs from accessing the necessary folders when they try to install (Malwarebytes Premium already does this). If that’s the case, you’ll need to temporarily disable your anti-virus software for the installation to complete.

Check program compatibility with Windows version

Some programs are simply not compatible with modern versions of Windows. For example, apps created for Windows 7 that were outdated many years ago may never be updated to work on Windows 10. In this case, Windows has several compatibility tools to help you out. run such applications, but they still may not function properly afterwards.

You should first check the application vendor’s website to see if the software supports your version of Windows. Most of the time, you’ll see this on the download or support page. Even if it’s not compatible, you can download the installer file and try to install it anyway, but knowing the officially supported platforms will be very helpful.

If the application installs properly, perform the steps below on the application’s executable file after it is installed. You can find it by searching for it in the Start menu, then right-clicking it and selecting Open file location to jump to that app in windows File Explorer. If the installer doesn’t run, try this same procedure on the installer executable.

Right-click the executable and select Properties. In the window that appears, go to tab Compatibility. Here you can choose Run this program in compatibility mode for and select an older version of Windows. This is worth a try if you know the app ran correctly on an older version.

Otherwise, there are more options in Settings, mainly related to the screen. These aren’t necessary in most cases, but you can try them out to see if they make any difference.

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So you know how to fix the error of not being able to install software on Windows 10, hope this article gives you a lot of useful knowledge, good luck!


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