Program files

Updated: 08/16/2021 by Computer Hope

Program files may refer to any of the following:

1. When used as a singular noun, an application file or program file describes a file which stores the code to run a program. This type of file is commonly referred to as an executable file. When referring to more than one file, program files are all of the different files that allow a software program to run on your computer. Most programs have different types of files (e.g., DLL files, data files, etc.) used in conjunction with the executable file.

Program files

2. Program Files is a folder first found in Microsoft Windows 95 and included in all later versions of Microsoft Windows that stores the software programs installed on the computer.

How to open Program Files folder

By default, the Program Files folder is found on the root directory of the primary hard drive, with the C:\Program Files path. To open this folder on your computer, follow the steps below.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Select This PC or Computer.
  3. Open the C: drive.
  4. Open the Program Files or Program Files (x86) folder.

What programs should be in the Program Files folder?

The Program Files folder and Program Files (x86) folders should contain the folders of the software programs that are installed on the computer.

Can I delete Program Files or Program Files (x86)?

No. While it may be possible to delete these folders they are both part of Windows and default locations where Windows installs your program files. If you delete either of these folders, all installed programs contained in the folder are also deleted.


If you want to delete these folders to recover hard drive space, we suggest uninstalling programs and not deleting these folders. For help with uninstalling programs, see: How to uninstall software in Windows.

What is the progra~1 directory?

With early versions of MS-DOS and Windows that only supported the 8.3 file naming format, the "Program Files" directory was too long. For backward compatibility, the "Programs Files" directory would appear as "progra~1" (a maximum of eight characters). Today, because all operating systems support long files this directory name is rarely seen.

Program Files translations

If you're using a version of Windows that isn't English, this directory may be translated into a different name, as shown in the examples below.

Danish = Programmer
French = Programmes
German = Programme
Italian = Programmi
Norwegian = Programfiler
Portuguese = Arquivo de Programas
Spanish = Archivos de programa
Swedish = Program

Application, File, Folder, Operating system terms, Program