EXE File: How to Edit?

Here’s how to edit an .exe file:

To edit an .exe file, simply open it with an editing tool and make whatever changes you like.

You might first need to take ownership of the file before you will be allowed to do this.

To successfully edit an .exe file, master computer programming so that you can make subtle changes without breaking the file.

So if you want to learn how to edit an .exe file exactly, then this article is for you.

Let’s get right into it!

EXE File: How to Edit? (All You Need to Know)

What Is an .Exe File?

What even is an .exe file?

It’s probably important to answer that question before we jump into the more difficult topics of successfully editing such a file.

So, here’s the overview.

The designation, .exe, stands for “executable.”

This is a Windows designation, so you need to be using Windows to run such a file.

The point of denoting files as .exe is to let you know that these are the types of files that can actually carry out actions on a computer.

Compare it to a .jpeg file, which is a picture you can view. An .exe file, when run, will execute tasks.

In generic terms, you can think of an .exe file as a program. It’s what runs things on the computer to whatever effect is desired.

What Do These .Exe Files Do?

In fact, this might seem more clear when we go over what .exe files are capable of doing anything.

On a Windows machine, they can carry out virtually any task.

One of the most common uses of .exe files is to run software installers.

So, if you download a shiny new program from the internet, you’ll probably end up with an .exe file in your downloads folder.

In fact, it will probably even be named an installer.

When you open that .exe installation file, a box opens up and walks you through the installation process.

You’ll see a bunch of different progress bars along the way, and when it’s done, your new program is installed.

The .exe installer file essentially carried out the task of installing your program for you, and that’s the point of executable files.

Now, the program you installed is probably a lot more complex.

It probably uses a lot of different executable files, along with many other things, in order to run properly. 

But, outside of installers, .exe files are integral to the function of Windows and everything on it.

Such files can run small programs independently.

They can also contain malicious software, which is why many tech experts will exercise some amount of caution.

Don’t open an .exe file unless you already know what it does.

Otherwise, you could be unleashing malicious software, and you’ll be left to face the consequences.

If it does turn out to be malicious, you won’t be having a good time.

How Do You Edit an .Exe File? (4 Steps)

Knowing what an .exe file is, why would you want to edit one?

There are really two reasons.

The first is that you might want to change the file’s permissions.

If you have a business computer with specialized software that you don’t want people to be able to access, then you can lock the .exe file.

That prevents unauthorized use, and it can protect the business and associated files.

The other reason is to change how the .exe file operates.

In this case, we’re talking about relatively deep computer programming.

Even simple .exe files often have a lot of lines of code, and they carry out very specific functions.

If you want to change one, then that means you’re planning on adjusting the file at a raw programming level.

For some people, that’s fun. For others, it’s a day job.

Regardless of the motivation, if you’re looking to do more than change permissions, I’ll still show you the essential steps.

But, I don’t have the time and space here to teach you how to program an .exe file. It takes a lot of knowledge.

If you’re jumping into this blind, then you’re very likely to break the .exe file simply by trying to change a few characters, much less entire lines of code.

Please take the warning.

Do not follow the steps in this blog post unless you are already familiar with programming.

If, however, you’re just looking for an overview of how to access .exe editing, I have you covered.

We’re going to break it down into four fairly easy steps.

#1 Obtain Permission

Before you can edit an .exe file, you need permission.

This step can control who has permission to open the file at all. 

If you’re in that camp that just wants to keep unauthorized users away, you’re in the right place.

Even if you’re planning to edit the raw functionality of the file, obtaining permission is the first step.

The way you take permission of a file depends on your operating system.

Technically, you can edit an .exe file while you’re not using Windows.

But, since this is a Windows-specific kind of thing, I’m going to provide the steps to do this in Windows.

If you’re using Linux or something else, you’ll want to look up the steps to take control of a file.

With that covered, here are your steps: 

  • Find the file
  • Right-click on it
  • Select “properties”
  • Click “advanced”
  • Click “change” next to “Owner”
  • Pick who should own the file
  • Click “Ok”
  • Check the box that says “Replace owner in subcontainers and objects”
  • Click “Ok”
  • Click “yes”

That will do it. You now have permission to do what you want with the file, and depending on your choices, you have just locked other users out of the file.

I’m going to give you one last round of disclaimers.

These files are typically locked on purpose.

The idea is to prevent accidental changes to the .exe file contents.

You have now removed that safeguard, and you very much can damage or completely ruin the file by tampering with it.

#2 Use an Editing Tool

Now that you have permission, you can edit the tool, but it’s not that simple.

You can’t just open the file with the Text Editor and make it do new things.

Instead, you need an appropriate tool for changing .exe files.

There are a ton of options out there, but some of the most well-known include Resource Hacker, Kala EXE Lock, and ExeScope.

Feel free to look any of those up and install them.

When you do pick your editing tool, you can use it to open your .exe file.

Essentially, you’ll launch the editing tool.

From that window, you can pick whatever file you want to edit.

The tool will have the mechanisms that enable you to view the .exe code and make alterations as you see fit.

Before you do that, read the next section on saving and follow the advice there.

You’re caught up? You really did save a new copy of the .exe file you want to edit?


So, at this point, open up the new version of the .exe file.

Browse it with your editor, and change it as you see fit.

If you have specific ideas in mind, try them out.

If you’re exploring this as a learning exercise, you will quickly see how easy it is to break an executable.

Either way, you took my advice and made a backup, so you should be fine.

#3 Save the Changes

Did you jump straight here from the “editor” section?

Let’s get down to business.

Your editor tool should have a function that allows you to save the file.

In fact, it should have a “save as” feature.

This allows you to save your changes in a brand new .exe file.

Before you actually change anything about the file, first use that “save as” feature.

You’re creating a second copy of the .exe file that you will use in the editor.

You’re going to leave the original alone.

So, you can name the new file whatever you want and save it wherever you want. Just keep track of it.

Once you save the new file, close the original and open the new one in your editor.

This way, no matter what might go wrong, you still have the pristine original, and it should work fine.

You can go back to the previous section now.

Alright, if you’re catching back up to this at the end, then I have a simple bit of advice for you.

Don’t forget to save any changes you make.

A lot of editors are a little simple on the user controls.

They might not automatically save your changes, so do that manually from time to time.

#4 Execute

You’re actually done at this point.

You have opened and edited the .exe file.

You saved your changes.

The only thing left to do is try it out.

Go to your edited file and try to run it.

If this is your first time, you’re going to see how easy it is to break an .exe file.

If you’re a seasoned pro at this, you’re going to be reminded for the umpteenth time how easy it is to break an .exe file.

Jokes aside, test your work.

If it functions, good job.

If not, you know how to keep editing, and you still have an original backup.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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