How to Convert EXE to Code

by Kevin Walker
Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

A software program is typically written in a high-level programming language such as C or Visual Basic. This native code is then compiled into machine code that can be run on a computer. The compiled code results in an EXE file; the resulting file is said to be executable, meaning it can be executed on a computer. Reversing the process and converting an EXE file back to source code in its native language is a process known as "decompiling." Decompilers can be a powerful tool for developers needing to modify applications whose original source code has long been lost.

Step 1

Open RecStudio Decompiler, which can be downloaded for free from the link cited in the Resources section below.

Step 2

Click "File" and "New Project." Use the file dialog to select an EXE file on your system that you would like to decompile and click "OK." The decompiler will proceed and may take from a few seconds to a few minutes to complete, depending on the complexity of the EXE file and the speed of your computer.

Click the button that looks like an arrow pointing to a "C" to view the code as C source code.


  • Many commercial software programs go through a process known as "obfuscation" in order to make it difficult for rival companies or hackers to decompile the source code in order to discover trade secrets or program flaws. If an EXE application has been obfuscated, the decompiled source code will likely be as difficult for a human to interpret as the machine code contained in the EXE file.
  • Even without obfuscation, decompilation is an imperfect and immature process. It will take a skilled developer to understand the decompiled C code produced. Some of the code, such as variable and function names, generally will not be preserved.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

About the Author

Kevin Walker is a computer programmer who decided to take a few years out from the corporate life and see the world. He spent a total of six years living abroad and teaching English in China, Korea and Mexico before returning to his home in Texas. He uses his programming and teaching experience to write easy-to-understand computer tutorials.

More Articles