Will an EXE file run on an iPad?

Written by david nield Google
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Will an EXE file run on an iPad?
Apple iPad devices can't handle EXE files. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Executable programs with the EXE file extension are built and designed to run on the Microsoft Windows computer operating system. The Apple iPad's iOS mobile operating system is configured to work with different hardware and therefore can't launch programs in the EXE format. Some software companies produce both Windows and Apple iOS versions of popular applications, so you might be able to find another way of installing a favourite Windows program on your iPad.

Software compiling

Software must be compiled before it can run on any platform. This process converts the source code put together by the programmer into a language that the end computer or device can understand. Developers compile applications in different ways to work on the platform for which they are intended. As Windows computers and iPads are very different devices in terms of internal architecture, hardware capabilities and possible input and output signals, you cannot run a program compiled for one platform on the other.

How EXE programs work

Files with the EXE extension are known as executables and they are designed to execute code on the computer's base operating system. Double-clicking an EXE file in Windows launches it, although administrator privileges might be required. Executable files are used to install programs and then run those programs, whether the application is a web browser, word processor, music player, video game or any other program type.

How iOS apps work

Unlike EXE files, iOS apps are designed to run on the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, and as a result they're compiled to work with the internal components, screen dimensions, the touchscreen keyboard and other device inputs. Developers store iOS apps in the IPA file format, a compressed archive that contains the app artwork and its executable code.

Finding alternatives

You cannot run EXE files on an iPad, but many software developers make desktop and mobile versions of the same programs. Google Chrome, Spotify, Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft SkyDrive are just a few of many applications available for both Windows and the iPad. If there is a particular Windows program you'd like to run on your Apple iPad tablet, check the developer's official website for details of any mobile equivalents. Even if an exact match isn't available, you should be able to find something similar for your iPad in the Apple App Store.

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