Problem: "windows cannot access the specified device, path or file. you may not have appropriate permissions to access the item." when I open almost any .exe file on my computer. Hey, I really need some help - I've already read a thread with the same title, but the solution to that person's problem was a virus, mine is not a virus. exceptions: - for some reason, shortcuts in my start menu don't work, neither do those on my desktop, but I have a few shortcuts in my taskbar and they all work, and run under my username. - applications run through task manager work - applications run through command prompt work steps I have already been through (and have failed) : - countless google searches - anti-virus scans with NOD32 and Panda - anti-spyware scans with ad-aware and ms defender - removed all programs that I don't NEED on the computer - system restore - CHKDSK - registry repair software - multiple "fix" registry files (none of the entries differed from my existing) - this problem also appears in safe mode. - I have tried replacing what I thought was the culprit (rundll32.exe) from a backup - it was not that. - tried fixing user permissions - I am the only administrator of this computer, and it was all working fine until recently, it came out of the blue. Please, Help me! :'( new discovery: when I place a shortcut to any file that won't open in my start menu, it lets the program run! this is a work around, but a major inconvenience!