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How to run a computer software program

Excel program boxAfter a computer program has been installed onto a computer, it can be opened at any time. Below are the steps on how you can open a computer software program on your computer in all operating systems.

Tip: When you want to "open" a program, you can refer to it as "open" or "run." However, if you are trying to "open" a file, see the how to open a file page.

Microsoft Windows
Windows command line (MS-DOS)
Apple computer
Apple iPad and iPhone
Android phone or tablet

Opening a program in Microsoft Windows

Run a program in Windows

In Windows, to run a program, double-click the executable file or double-click the shortcut icon pointing to the executable file. If you have a hard time double-clicking an icon, you can click the icon once to highlight it and then press the Enter key on the keyboard.

Tip: If you are having a hard time opening a program because you cannot find the icon in Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows 8, and Windows 10, click Start and type the name of the program you want to open. For example, you could type "notepad", "excel", or "word" and click the icon in the search results, or highlight the program icon and press Enter. If the program does not appear make sure the program has been installed.

Bonus Tip: In Windows 8 and Windows 10, you can also right-click the icon and choose the option pin to taskbar to add the program icon to your Taskbar for easier future access.

Note: If a program is in the Start Menu or Taskbar, it only requires you to click the icon once.

Note: If a program has not been installed in the computer it will not be able to be ran. For example, you can only run Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel if you have installed it on the computer.

Run a program on an Apple computer

In the Apple MacOS operating system, double-click the program icon to run the program. If you have a hard time double-clicking an icon, you can click the icon once to highlight it and then press the Return key on the keyboard.

Tip: If you are having a hard time opening a program because you cannot find the icon, you can use Spotlight to search for the name of the program. Once found, double-click the icon to open the program.

Bonus Tip: Once a program is running, you can right-click the icon in the Dock and click Options and Keep in Dock to add the program icon to the Dock for easier future access.

Note: If a program is in the Dock, it only requires you to click the icon once.

Run a program on an Apple iPad and iPhone

On the Apple iPad and iPhone, you can run a program by tapping with your finger once on the icon.

Tip: If you are having a hard time opening a program because you cannot find the icon, you can swipe down with your finger in the middle of any screen showing icons to start a search. In the search, type the name of the program you want to open and then click the icon.

Run a program on an Android phone or tablet

On all Android smartphones and tablets, you can run a program by tapping with your finger once on the icon.

Additional information