[Fix] “There was a Problem Sending the Command to the Program” Error Message in Windows

Since a few days I was facing this strange problem. I was trying to open a Microsoft Excel 2013 file (.xlsx) in Windows 8.1 but whenever I tried to open it, I received following error message:

There was a problem sending the command to the program.

There_Was_Problem_Sending_Command_To_Program.png

There was no problem in the file. Also the error message was coming only once. After clicking on the OK button and trying to open the file again, it opened without any problem. It was happening each time I started my computer.

I searched and found various solutions for this problem. So today in this tutorial, I'm going to share all possible solutions to fix this irritating issue. I hope it'll come handy for some people.

PROBLEM DESCRIPTION:

When you try to open a Microsoft Office file such as a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, Access database file, etc, you receive following error messages:

There was a problem sending the command to the program.

OR

Windows cannot find the file, Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again.

OR

Cannot find the file (or one of its components). Make sure the path and filename are correct and that all required libraries are available.

After getting the error message, following things might happen:

CASE 1: The error message is shown only once and you'll be able to open the file in second attempt.

CASE 2: The error message is shown each time you try to open the file.

PROBLEM REASON:

According to Microsoft KB article, this problem occurs due to Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) feature. DDE is a type of communication protocols which is used by Windows to open certain filetypes which require this protocol for communication between source and target programs.

DDE mechanism is used to prevent unnecessary opening of multiple instances of a program if one instance of that program is already running in background. So basically DDE helps Windows in saving computer resources so that you get better performance from your computer.

Now lets talk about our problem! The above mentioned error message appears when Windows sends DDE command to MS Office application but Windows fails to connect with the application, thus it shows the error message in return.

PROBLEM SOLUTION:

We talked about 2 cases above! If CASE 1 is applicable to you i.e. you receive the error message only once and then you are able to open the file, you can ignore this problem. Nothing bad is going to happen with your computer.

But if CASE 2 is applicable to you and you are not able to open the file, then you can try following solutions:

SOLUTION 1:

1. Open the Microsoft Office program and open its Options window. Click on Office ORB or FILE menu present in the ribbon and then click on Options.

2. Now go to Advanced tab and scroll down to bottom. You'll find "Ignore other applications that use Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE)" option present in General section.

Ignore_Dynamic_Data_Exchange_DDE_Option.png

3. Make sure its unchecked. If its enabled in your system, disable it by unchecking the checkbox.

4. Apply changes and restart Office program. It should fix the problem.

PS: If the option is not enabled, first enable the option and then restart the Office program. Now again disable the option and then again restart the Office program. It should fix the problem.

SOLUTION 2:

If the above mentioned solution doesn't work for you, try following method. Basically we are going to re-associate Office program as default application to open the filetype:

1. Right-click on the Office file and select "Open with" option.

Microsoft_Excel_Spreadsheet_Open_With_Option.png

2. If you are using Windows 7 or earlier Windows versions, click on Browse button.

If you are using Windows 8 or later, click on More Options link and then click on "Look for another app on this PC" option.

3. Now go to "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office..." folder in Browse dialog box and select the correct EXE file. For example, if you are trying to open .xlsx file, select EXCEL.EXE file. If you are trying to open .docx file, select WINWORD.EXE file.

Make sure "Always use this application for this file type" or similar option is enabled in Open with window.

4. That's it. It should fix the problem.

SOLUTION 3:

Sometimes this error message occurs when "Run as administrator" option is enabled for the program. You can fix it using following steps:

1. Open Start Menu or Start Screen and look for the Office program shortcut which is causing this problem such as Word, Excel, etc.

2. Once you find the shortcut, right-click on it and select Properties option.

PS: If you can't find the Properties option, first select "Open file location" option from the context menu. It'll open a new window. Now again right-click on the Office program shortcut present in the new window and now you'll get Properties option.

3. Now go to Compatibility tab and uncheck/disable all given options specially "Run this program as administrator".

Program_Shortcut_Compatibility_Settings.png

4. Apply changes and it should solve the problem.

SOLUTION 4:

You can also try to delete "Data" key from Registry to fix this issue. This key stores basic settings related to window size, position and toolbars. If you delete the key, it'll reappear as soon as you launch Office program. So there is no harm in deleting this key from Registry.

To delete the key, follow these simple steps:

1. Press WIN+R keys together to launch RUN dialog box. Now type regedit in RUN and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office

3. Under this key, you'll find sub-keys with the name 10.0, 11.0, 12.0, etc depending upon which Office suite version is installed in your computer.

Expand the 10.0 or other number key and you'll see keys with the name Word, Excel, Access, etc.

4. Expand the key associated to the program which is causing problems. For example, if Microsoft Word is causing problems, expand Word key and you'll see Data key under it.

5. Select Data key and press Delete key to delete it.

That's it. Re-launch Office program and now it should work without any problem.

SOLUTION 5:

You can also try to repair Microsoft Office suite with the help of following steps:

1. Open Control Panel and click on Programs and Features icon.

2. Now click on Microsoft Office entry present in the list and click on "Change" button.

3. Now select "Repair" option and click on "Continue" button.

It'll repair Microsoft Office files and settings and it should fix the problem.

SOLUTION 6:

A few readers have reported that a 3rd party software "AVG PC TuneUp" can also cause this issue. So if you are also facing this problem and you have "AVG PC TuneUp" software installed in your computer, try to uninstall it. It may also fix the issue.

According to our reader "David 963", AVG PC Tune-up disabled Microsoft Office from starting until the the program started and therefore would not open an individual worksheet or document until the actual program was opened. He didn't uninstall AVG PC TuneUp but he opened the program and went to the "Optimize" tab and clicked "Disable Programs" option. Then he enabled Microsoft Office suite.

According to our reader "NELU", disabling Defense+security level in Comodo Antivirus fixed this issue.

SOLUTION 7: (shared by Phil)

1. Press WIN+R keys together to launch RUN dialog box. Now type regedit in RUN and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following keys one by one:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Excel.Sheet.8\Shell\Open\Command
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Excel.Sheet.12\Shell\Open\Command

3. In right-side pane, the value of (Default) would be set to something like following:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\EXCEL.EXE /dde

You need to replace /dde present at the end of the string with /e "%1"

Close Registry Editor and it should fix the issue.

SOLUTION 8: (shared by Leslie)

1. Press WIN+R keys together to launch RUN dialog box. Now type regedit in RUN and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following keys one by one:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Word.Document.12\shell\Open\
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Word.DocumentMacroEnabled.12\shell\Open\

3. Under Open key, you'll find ddexec sub-key. Delete ddexec key.

Close Registry Editor and it should fix the issue.

SOLUTION 9: (shared by Peter)

1. Press WIN+R keys together to launch RUN dialog box. Now type regedit in RUN and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Options

NOTE: The 16.0 key name may be differ like 10.0, 11.0, 12.0, etc depending upon which Office suite version is installed in your computer.

3. In right-side pane, change the value of DDEAllowed to 1

Close Registry Editor and it should fix the issue.

SOLUTION 10: (shared by CMECb)

Disabling protected view may also fix this problem. Check out following tutorial to turn off protected view:

How to Disable Protected View in Microsoft Office While Opening Email Attachments or Downloaded Files?





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Posted in: Microsoft Office, Troubleshooting, Windows 7, Windows 8 / 8.1, Windows Vista, Windows XP


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Comments

  • I tried all of the above solutions and none worked. Eventuallly I found a solution that worked for me involving changing the registry values below. Thanks to the Microsoft IT pros.

    1. To begin, we go to the registry. Click START, and in the RUN command line type REGEDIT and hit ENTER or click OK. This will start the registry editor.

    2. Navigate to the following key: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Excel.Sheet.8\Shell\Open\Command

    3. Double click on the (Default) instance over to the right. Right now this probably says something like:

    If you have Office 2007 installed:

    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\EXCEL.EXE /dde

    Or, if you have Office 2010 installed

    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\EXCEL.EXE /dde

    Change this value to:

    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\EXCEL.EXE /e "%1"

    for Office 2007 and for Office 2010 change it to:

    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\EXCEL.EXE /e "%1"

    4. Navigate to the following key: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Excel.Sheet.12\Shell\Open\Command

    Again, double click the (Default) entry to the right and change

    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\EXCEL.EXE /dde

    to

    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\EXCEL.EXE /e "%1"

    When you exit the registry this should be all you need to do. Each time you double click on your Excel shortcut or type excel.exe in the command line a new instance of Excel is launched with the default spreadsheet.

  • My problem was with Word Document, everything else worked fine, but here is the easy fix - -

    Go to the Start Menu > go to Microsoft Word> Right Click> go to Properties > Compatibility> Uncheck 'Run as Administrator'> Click Apply ........ Done and it will work.

  • What worked for me. I'm running Office Pro 365.
    I removed the keys:
    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Word.Document.12\shell\Open\ddexec
    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Word.DocumentMacroEnabled.12\shell\Open\ddexec

  • SOLUTION 4 WORKING FOR ME.

    THAXXXXXXX SO MUCH

    GOD BLESS UUUU
    DEAR

  • Big thanks to you guyz, it really work for me.

  • Best Site with Many Solutions,

    Good Team Work..

    Keep it Up ....

    Raghava Vangala,
    Telangana.

  • Hi all!
    None of the solutions has worked for my MS Word, and I had no access to the MS Office install dvd to repair it =( Most files, opened from a browser link of from Total Commander kept causing the “There was a Problem Sending the Command to the Program” Error Message =\ - but strangely not all of the files!

    The reason turned out to be an issue with PROTECTED VIEW! So if I opened a file from internet/email or from a browser cash folder (where the file is actually downloaded when you click "Open" in a browser) - the Protected View worked somehow incorrectly with this error.
    So I just switched it off and try not to open any suspicious files ;)

    Instructions:

    Go to Word -> Options -> Trust Center -> Trust Center Settings button, find there the "Protected View" tab and uncheck the options.

  • Really Nice Solution.
    Thank you Very much.

  • The re-associate office programs solution worked for me!

  • This is very very very imp and useful information
    thanks a lot i am wondering just here n there but no result at the end i saw this article and got it perfectly working

    thanks in ton once again

  • thanks, your solution 1 fixed the problem

  • For me it was Comodo Antivirus. I had to disable Defence+security level

  • Wow...I should have went to solution #6 right away! I was able to open the file on my laptop...which does not have AVG on it. I uninstalled the AVG tune-up and my file opened just as it should. I've nothing but problems since I actually bought the paid version. I think I'll uninstall the paid AVG and go back to the free version. It doesn't work for my emails and the only reason I bought it!

    Thanks,

  • First solution worked to resolve the issue with opening excel files - OS Windows 10. Thanks!

  • Thank you
    Issue 2
    Solution 1 worked for me be pestering me for year now and finally decided to dig around and fix it. Great concise work keep it up please.

  • Solution #3 did it: I have mine enabled to "Run this program in compatibility mode for XP service pack 3", uncheck everything and viola! Thanks btw! Have a great day ahead pal..

  • g8...Thanks a lot.. problem solved in minutes....
    problem no.2 - solution no.1.

  • Hi,

    Currently I using Microsoft Excel 2017 and facing CASE 2 problem "The error message is shown each time you try to open the file". After I use the "Solution 1", the problem solved.

    Thank you.

    Regards
    Kelvin

  • The information was very useful. Worked powerfully like a magic!!!
    Thanks a lot.

  • Solution 6 worked for me. Like David 963 said, I too didn't uninstall AVG PC TuneUp but he opened the program and went to the "Optimize" tab and clicked "Disable Programs" option. Then he enabled Microsoft Office suite. Poof, worked like a champ. Thank you very much!!!

  • I was having issues with opening an excel file straight from Google Drive, and the first solution worked for me.

    This was such a helpful article, I wish every troubleshooting article out there was like this: direct, specific, and provides an instant and easy fix.

    Thank you so much!

  • Thanks... Just to let you know we had several computers with Office 16 and Windows 10 with the same problem. Tried every other solution without success until editing the Registry (solution 4). It worked!

  • Uh... Regretfully solution nr 4 just worked once. The next time a Word doc was opened the same problem with the strange mesage reapeared... Uf!

  • Thank you so much. Solution number 1 (2) fixed the issue :) :)

  • I tried many of the solutions, it was that Darn AVG tuneup causing the issue, I simply uninstalled it.
    Thank you

  • Thank you. Excellent job: Solution number 3 solved the issue with my Win 7 & Office 2007

  • Thanks Leslie, for me worked your solution

    What worked for me. I'm running Office Pro 365.
    I removed the keys:
    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Word.Document.12\shell\Open\ddexec
    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Word.DocumentMacroEnabled.12\shell\Open\ddexec

  • hi
    non of the solutions helped me!!!!!! so wierd

  • solution 1 solved the issue with my Win 7 & Office 2010

  • Thanks for all the possible solutions. Unclicking Run as Administrator worked for me.

  • Many thanks! Your "Solution 3" solved this problem--Windows 10, Word 2002.

  • Thank you so much "solution 1" resolved my issue! Windows 7

  • Thanks #3 did the trick Win 7 - Office #12

  • I had this issue with only Excel, solution 5 worked for me !!

  • solution one fixed my issue. thank you.

  • I had the same issue. What finally fixed it for me was:
    regedit
    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Options (your 16.0 will vary depending on version)

    Change the value for DDEAllowed to 1

  • None of them worked for me. Right now I can't open any MS file. Excel keeps prompting me with "There is a problem sending this command to the program". MS Word Office Professional 2010 won't open or do a thing. Outlook opens but don't allow me to open some of my emails. It keeps making me enter my pw which I do but nothing happens from that. Just don't understand what is happening. Need my files to get work done. I think between excel and word I was trying to open them both one right behind the other and somehow they got tangled up. This is the only thing I can think of that happen just before they quit working on me. Does anyone have a solution I can try that is different! Lost and confused and running out of time to reach my deadline on files I need to open.

  • SOLUTION 7 +++ worked

    follow his instructions, go to BOTH:

    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Excel.Sheet.8\Shell\Open\Command
    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Excel.Sheet.12\Shell\Open\Command

    see "Default" on the right... click right button on it

    change what is there to : C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\EXCEL.EXE /e "%1"

    do BOTH, close regedit and rerun excell..

  • thanks My problem is solved

  • SOLUTION 1 WORKED FOR ME.

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